Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel
Mary Cook Rogers, Staff

MARY COOK ROGERS Staff – Dietician, December 1946 – September 1947

TAGS: Mary Cook Rogers, Mary E. Cook Rogers, Mrs. Richard J. Rogers, dietician, H.R.S. Benjamin, contract, Margaret Motter, application blank, recommendations from references, PMSS worker

Mary Cook Rogers, PMSS Dietician, December 1946 – September 1947, [rogers_mary_cook_bio_025.jpg]

The offer Mary Cook Rogers received from PMSS Director H.R.S. Benjamin must have been just what Mary needed at the time. And Mr. Benjamin felt that her acceptance of that offer was a sign that “our prayers are answered in a marvelous manner.” However, this perfect match was not to be made as quickly as each had hoped.


Mary Cook Rogers, who lived in Braddock Heights, Maine, had heard about an opening for a dietician at the Pine Mountain Settlement School from Margaret Motter. Miss Motter was a longtime teacher and principal at the School and also a field representative for the School’s publicity program from 1946 through 1949. It is possible that Mary had heard of the School when attending one of Miss Motter’s slide talks on one of her promotional trips to the northeast. In any case, it was Margaret Motter who introduced Rogers to PMSS and the job opportunity.

When Margaret Motter returned to PMSS from Maryland, she informed Mr. Benjamin of Mary’s interest. He then wrote to Mary on October 14, 1946, telling her that “[t]his comes to us as a great relief” and describing details about living at PMSS, the contract (for 12 months with a one-month vacation, one day off a week) and the duties of a second supervisory assistant dietician:

“…having charge of building, food preparation in cooperation with the present dietician. Under you…will be two cooks with girls from the home economics department receiving their practical training in the morning and afternoon. … We are happy to hear that you are a graduate nurse as there may be an opportunity to fill in this capacity in our small ten-bed hospital.”

Letter to Mary Cook Rogers from H.R.S. Benjamin, PMSS Director, October 14, 1946. [rogers_mary_cook_002.jpg]

Mr. Benjamin also informed Mary that the salary will be $80 per month cash with maintenance (room, light, heat, laundry and food equal to $55-60 per month). He enclosed an application blank and stated that Rogers should arrive on November first. In closing, he suggested that Rogers visit the campus before signing the contract and sent condolences for Rogers’ loss.

In return, Mary expressed her appreciation for the offer of a position and also for his words of sympathy. She wrote that she was interested in a dietician’s position — or “to fill in in any capacity for which I am suited…” and enclosed a completed application blank.

In her application, Mary E. Cook Rogers, age 56, listed her education as having graduated from the Georgian Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1914; from the University of Maryland in Home Economics Education with a B.S. in 1929; and Summer School at the University of Maine in 1941. She indicated that, due to her husband’s ill health, she had held only one position, that of a dietician of school lunches for the State Department of Education in Augusta, Maine, from 1941 to 1942. Regardless, she wrote that “[M]y experience as a dietician is limited to one school year in the schools of Maine but managing a home and preparing meals for thirty years gives one experience.”

Mary’s references had high praise for her character. Her dean at the University of Maryland wrote that she “graduated from our university with honors. She has unusual ability in art but is very modest as to her abilities.” A former employer, the State Director of Home Economics Education, wrote that “Mrs. Rogers worked on a special nutrition project for about six months on a State level….very successful…conscientious…. [has] good judgment…would work well with others.” Her neighbor, a businessman, stated that “I believe her to be cultured, refined, and capable.” Pine Mountain was indeed pursuing the right person for the School.

MARY COOK ROGERS: A Delay in Accepting the Position

A few days later, on October 22, 1946, Mr.Benjamin received a Western Union telegram from Mary, followed by her letter explaining that she must decline Mr. Benjamin’s offer because she had a slight heart attack and her doctor ordered her to rest for a while. “The strain of the last eight years is now beginning to be felt. With rest and care at this stage, I hope to be well again after Christmas.” At that time she had recently lost her husband, Richard J. Rogers, whom she had been caring for during his eight years of illness. Mr. Benjamin also received a letter from Mary’s doctor who wrote at Mary’s request to confirm that,

 “I do not believe that Mrs. Rogers’ physical or nervous condition will permit her to undertake her duties at Pine Mountain Settlement School at this time. She has not recovered from the shock caused by the recent death of her husband, and in addition, she has a heart condition….”

Excerpt from letter written by Dr. Edwin B. Jarrett, Baltimore, MD, to PMSS Director, H.R.S. Benjamin, October 22, 1946. [rogers_mary_cook_009.jpg]


However, Mr. Benjamin had a better idea. After receiving approval from Mary’s doctor, he invited Mary to Pine Mountain for an extended stay to rest and have a “new atmosphere … as a guest of the paying type (and that is not a heavy expenditure according to our standards) and when your strength returns we might find some work for you that would in time lead to the thing we have in mind.”

There was yet another delay before Mary came to Pine Mountain while she experienced a “week’s siege with influenza,” but she finally did travel to the School in December 1946 and stayed until September 1947. Her records in the PMSS Collections end there, but the PMSS Workers 1913 – 2000s Guide lists her as “dietician” for that span of time. Evidently, she recovered and became a Pine Mountain “worker,” realizing the hope that both she and Mr. Benjamin had when she applied.

Mrs. Mary E. Cook Rogers was born in 1890. She died at age 98 on February 20, 1988, at the Vindobona Nursing Home in Braddock Heights, Maryland. Formerly of Frederick, Maryland, she was the wife of the late Richard J. Rogers.

See Also MARY COOK ROGERS Correspondence, 1942-1947
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Mary Cook Rogers

Alt. Title

Mary E. Cook Rogers ; Mrs. Richard J. Rogers ; Mary C. Rogers ; 




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Mary Cook Rogers ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Mary E. Cook Rogers ; Mrs. Richard J. Rogers ; dietician, H.R.S. Benjamin, contract, Margaret Motter, application blank, recommendations from references, PMSS worker, University of Maryland

Subject LCSH

Rogers, Mary Cook, — 1890 – 1988.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Education — Kentucky — Harlan County.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.


2020-09-27 aae


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of documents and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet


Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel.

Coverage Temporal

1890 – 1988

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ; Braddock Heights, ME ; College Park, MD ; Baltimore, MD ; Frederick, MD ; Atlanta, GA ; Augusta, ME ; Orono, ME ; 


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers of Mary Cook Rogers ; clippings, photographs, books by or about Mary Cook Rogers ;




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated




Mary Cook Rogers Correspondence,” Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Internet resource.

The News, Frederick, MD, Newspaper Archives, Feb. 26, 1988, page 8. Internet resource.

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