By David Denson
Former Fourth District Council member Carolyn D. Rogers is being remembered as someone who exhibited professionalism and compassion. Rogers, who represented the Fourth District from 1999-2019, passed away on Friday, July 10. She was 63.
As the flag at City Hall flies at half-mast in honor of her legacy, friends and colleagues recount her dedication to her constituents.
Karen Lane served as Rogers’ legislative assistant for most of her tenure on the council. “She cared about her community and her constituents over and beyond what was required of a council member,” said Lane.
Lane recalled the time Rogers would spend in the council office returning calls from constituents and working to address their concerns. “She was hands on when it came to helping people in her district. The care for her community and her district really stood out,” said Lane.
Poised and professional is how City Council Office Manager Vanessa Williams remembers Rogers. “She was a woman of high integrity; she will be missed.”
Councilman Ron Brewer viewed Rogers as someone with integrity. Brewer is an at-large member of the City Council and served four terms as the body’s president. “One thing I could say about Carolyn was if she supported you, she was with you and if she didn’t support you, she would tell you. She became one of my key supporters when I sought the presidency on the City Council. Just being able to work with her on projects that benefited the city was a great honor. Echoing Williams’ sentiment, he too noted, “she will be missed,” said Brewer.
Fifth District Councilwoman Linda Barnes-Caldwell, who served on the council for five years, says that Rogers was extremely devoted to the Fourth District and its constituents. “She had the energy to work to improve her district and the city. I had the pleasure of serving with her for five years and was able to witness her level of dedication,” said Barnes-Caldwell.
One of the major projects Rogers was able to get done during her tenure on the council was the demolition of the Bear Brand Hosiery Co. building that was located at 205 E. 21st Ave. One of her last officials acts on the City Council was to attend the dedication of a park where the factory once stood.
Tai Adkins replaced Rogers as Councilwoman of the Fourth District. Adkins says she is aware of the legacy of service that Rogers put forth and she is committed to continue that pursuit.
“Councilwoman Rogers dedicated 20 years of her life to not just serving the city of Gary but also in Lake County government. She was a woman of class and a woman of servant leadership. I pray for her family and pray for her daughter. Her quest to make sure the Fourth District was a part of the redevelopment and reconstruction of the city was a goal of hers, and I am honored to take the reigns and make sure we charge forward. Keeping all of what she did for those 20 years in mind I will work to push us forward,” said Adkins.
Lillian James served as Rogers’ campaign manager in Rogers’ first run for the City Council. The two met when they were students at IUN and became friends. “I remember when Carolyn became a precinct committeeman and how she felt the need to do more for the community. Carolyn loved a challenge and the more she was told she couldn’t do something the more she was determined to do it,” said James.
Funeral arrangements for Rogers have not been announced.