BURTON ROGERS 2007 Memorial and Funeral

Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections
Biography Series 09
Burton Rogers [1909-2007]
Counselor, Teacher 1942 – 1945
Counselor, Teacher, Principal 1947 – 1949

Director 1949 – 1973
Director Emeritus 

Burton Rogers [May 3, 1909 -1999]. [X_100_workers_2603_mod.jpg]

TAGS: Burton Rogers (1901-1999), Director, Administrator, Counselor, Social Studies instruction, educator, American Friends Service Committee, Yale University, Sherman, Conn.,  Yale in China Program, Yali Union Middle School, Changsha, WWII, Japanese invasion of China, European travel, Masters in Education, Berlin German language training, Mary Blagden Rogers, India, Pendle Hill AFS training, American Friends Service in India, Christopher Rogers, Peter Rogers, Quaker Circle, Lexington, KY


Burton Rogers had one of the longest association any governing staff at the settlement school. His tenure was spread throughout numerous administrative assignments including teacher, counselor, School Principal, and Director.  But, it is without a doubt that his years as a constant advocate for the larger Pine  Mountain community was his most constant concern and late in a life well-lived, it was his reward.

A small note found among his papers labeled “1991 Burton’s Angels”  provides a list of women and their phone numbers. It was the individuals on this list that formed a core support system to be called upon by Burton in his last years. It is reflective of the deep connections he made with individuals who worked at the School in some capacity or who were nearby and could be called upon to assist him and the School where needed. The women who provided support to Burton and to the School is a visual lesson in “community”  and service. While the list is exclusively women, it is certain that many men in the community also provided assistance on an “on-call” basis for Burton and for the School when and where needed during his last years on the campus.  Pine Mountain thanks these faithful “Angels.”


Kathy Napier Rhoda Couch
Denise Napier Myrtle TurnerCora Creech
Cumile Lewis Ava Witt
Bonnie Huff DeEtta Stevenson
Debra Cornett           YOUNG ONES
Judy Lewis Deanna Callahan
Trudy Morgan Melody Hawkins
Debra Callahan April Napier
Geneva Jackson Julia Huff

As he aged and as his medical needs became too great, Burton, re-located to Lexington where he could be close to his son Peter and daughter-in-law, Phyllis and to his Quaker Circle of Friends. It proved to be a wise move and one that expanded the his circle of angels.

When Burton Rogers died in April of 1999 there were two memorials for the fondly remembered Friend and the former Pine Mountain worker. The Quaker Friends Meeting House in Lexington was the location of the first celebration and the second was held at Pine Mountain Settlement where Burton spent the bulk of his career as an educator. The Pine Mountain memorial was officiated by the Rev. Titus Boggs, son of the Rev. Alvin Boggs, who succeeded Burton as Director of Pine Mountain Settlement on his retirement in 1973.


Burton Rogers. Funeral.


The brief life history provided by Burton Roger’s family, 05.01/1999.

May 3, 1909.

    • Born in Maplemont at Sherman, Conn. to John Theodore and Ruth Brush Rogers.

Fall 1915 – Spring 1922.

    • Attend New Milford High School in New Milford, Conn.

Sept 1926 – Spring 1930.

    • Attended Yale college (the academic undergraduate school of Yale University) in New have, Conn. BA (major in American History)

Summer 1930 – Summer 1934.

    • By train to San Francisco; by ship, via Honolulu, Hawai to Yokohama, Japan; visit Peking; by freighter to Shanghai; by steamer up the river to Changsha.
    • Two-year “bachelor” program with Yale-in-China teaching English at Yali Union Middle School in Changsha, China
    • Stay on at Yali as head of English Department when Frank Hutchins recalled to New  Haven for fundraising.
    • By train from Changsha to Hankow, Peking, Mukden, Harbin; joined by Winifred Galbraith on trans-Siberia, Moscow, Berlin, Paris (arriving on Bastille Day); visit Northern France; join parents at Le Havre and travel with them by boat to Hamburg; by train through Leipzig Nuremberg, Dikelsbuhl [umlaut], Munich Passion Play at Oberammergau, Florence Pisa Venice Interlaken, Switzerland, Rhine Valley, Holland, to London: through Southern England by car; by boat to New York; return to Sherman [Conn].

Fall 1934 – Spring 1935.

  • Graduate School at Yale for Masters in Education.

Summer 1935.

  • Berlin “tutor” exchange (austauschdienst) to learn German; Munich for summer school.

Fall 1935 – Fall 1936.

    • Graduate studies i linguistics & phonetics at University of London.
    • Meet Mary Blagden [Rogers], a student at Institute of Education University of London.
    • Driving tour through Germany & Belgium with Eva & Mary Blagden and Hubert Pocock.

Spring 1937.

    • Return to Sherman to write thesis on the teaching of English in China.
    • MA in Education from Yale.

Summer 1937 – Spring 1941

    • German liner, Europa, to Southhampton; driven by Eva Blagden to visit in Yately (Mary was off teaching at Hayes Court School in Kent; then on to Londo; by train through Germany (hike 75 mi. through Black Forest from Baden-Baden to Freiberg with friends), to Genoa; German liner through Suez, Colombo, Singapore, Manila, Hong King; by the new train to Changsha.
    • Teach English (as head of English department) in Yali Union Middle School.
    • The first Japanese bombing of Changsha came on Thanksgiving Day, 1937.
    • Move school inland to Yuanling in September 1938 due to Japanese advance
    • Yuanling was largely destroyed August 18, 1939 by Japanese bombers but the school area spared.
    • US Counsel and British authorities recommended in Feb. 1941 that trans-Pacific travelers start leaving China as soon as possible
    • May 1941, by boat to Changsha, boat and train to Guilin, plane by night over Japanese occupied territory to Hong Kong; Norwegian freighter via Phillippines to San Pedro, California; by train to Seattle; then to New York; to Sherman, [Conn].

Summer 1940

    • By truck to Kunming; by plane to Lashio and Rangoon; by boat to Calcutta; by train to Ranchi to visit Mary Blagden; Trips in Northern India
    • Engaged to Mary Blagden at Ranchi Lake on July 29 1940. Married Aug. 20, 1940 at Murhu.
    • Return to Chia via Calcutta, boat to Rangoon; train to Mandalay, Lashio; plane to Kunming; busses to Guiyang; then by Red Cross truck to Yuanling

Spring 1942

    • Enroll in Yale Divinity School in religious education.
    • Christopher ‘Kit’ born Jan 16 n New Haven.

June 30, 1942 – Spring 1947

    • Pendle Hill; training sessions with American Friends Service Committee
    • Sail from New York via Egypt, British troop boat to Bombay, to train to Calcutta and by truck to Contai (100 miles south).
    • Closing AFSC [American Friends Service Committee] relief programs (after ’42 floods & ’43 famine) and inspecting weaving co-ops.
    • After MR [Mary] and Kit arrive from visit ib England over to Calcutta as finance officer and interpreter for relief teams during riots.
    • From Bombay by ship to London; about a month at Yately; sail on America troop transport arriving in New York on July 3.
    • Return to Pine Mountain July 13.

Fall 1947 – Spring 1994

    • Teach English and Social Studies.
    • Nov. 7, 1947; Peter born in the Infirmary (Hill House).
    • 1949: Pine Mountain closes boarding school and invites county to consolidate local one-room elementary schools on PMSS campus, BBR [Burton]appointed Director of PMSS (and also as Principal of the county school until 1952).
    • 1971: county moves school to Green Hills and PMSS starts Environmental Education program.
    • 1973: Retire as Director of PMSS. Named Director, Emeritus. (MR [Mary] continues on staff of environmental education program).

Spring 1994

Lexington, KY.



‘Burton was such an important figure n the development of Pine Mountain Settlement School’s programs and history that his death records the passing of an era not only at Pine Mountain but also in 20th century Appalachia. May we all celebrate his long and meaningful life, even as we mourn our loss.”

Larry Shiinn, President Berea College


At the April Memorial for Burton Rogers, there were many who spoke to the many achievements and friendships that Burton fostered over his lifetime. The remarks of linguist and historian Anita Puckett, as recorded here in the transcript of her remarks [June 22, 2007], aptly summarize the legacy that Burton left to the community and to those he instructed and to those who worked with him.

As we get older we often learn that we have to compromise our visions, aspirations, and goals. Not so for the man, we commemorate here today. IU first learned about Burton Rogers in 1968 when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky o a fieldtrip to learn about “Appalachia.” We had come to Pine Mountain Settlement Schoo o an outing. He was not here, but Bill Hayes was, and he told us about his and Mary’s vision of turning the School into an environmental learning center, a place where students of all ages could come to experience and learn about the way of the mountains. I was impressed ad hoped that their vision could come to pass.

I then met Mr. Rogers again n 1985 when I was able to live here for over a year. He was still strong and vital involved and caring, and above all certain in his vision and hopes for the School’s future. These were tough times for Pine Mountain, but Burton and Mary were always stalwart and optimistic. They were also most kind and truly interested in others. They had earned the goodwill and respect of not only those at the School but also those in the community around them.

My work at the time kept me from spending much time with him, but he was nevertheless a constant, always present if not in person, then in his presence in how teachers and staff did their jobs and thought about the future. e knew what would sustain the School and he did everything in his power to ae it happen.

Perhaps one [of] his most enduring legacies for all of us will be listening to him play the organ in the Chapel and his central role in getting the Christmas to be a joy to us all every year, every year. He loved it so much.

Burton Rogers took Pine Mountain Settlement School from its latter days of being a county school to becoming a regional force in environmental education. And did it with goodwill, good heart, and strong faith. We were all privileged to be part of his life, no matter how much or how brief. I was honored to know him; I am honored to be able to share my thoughts with you today, although I cannot be here in person.

Anita Puckett
June 22, 2007