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Traveling businessman embraced all cultures

Richard Douglas Rogers was a young naval officer from Ohio when in 1961 he arrived in Honolulu to oversee a squadron of nuclear submarines at Pearl Harbor.

Wanting to settle in Hawaii with his wife and children, Rogers left the Navy for a manufacturing manager position with Dole Co. But the company sent him abroad, launching his career as an international businessman.

Later in life he followed his wife, Penny, who had joined the State Department, to her diplomatic posts in numerous cities on five continents while he worked as a financial adviser at the different embassies.

Despite their life around the globe, the couple always returned home to Hawaii.

Rogers died June 19 in Honolulu of pancreatic cancer at age 81.

Penny Rogers said her husband’s legacy lies in his embracing different cultures and languages, “a man who could talk to everyone, even if he didn’t speak their language,” and got along with everyone.

He also loved diversity, even in his own family, with one son-in-law conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and the other a Rastafarian from St. Kitts and Nevis, she said.

Richard Rogers’ first job abroad was in the Philippines, where he oversaw a Dole pineapple plantation for three years. He next moved his family to Brazil, where he set up a pharmaceutical company for a Brazilian consortium. Then he worked three years in Rio de Janeiro for Richardson Merrell Pharmaceuticals, now Dow Chemical.

After he served as adviser to the prime minister of Jamaica on agriculture, the Rogerses chose a round-the-world adventure living out of carry-ons with their two younger children.

“We didn’t wait for retirement to get to our bucket list,” Penny Rogers said.

Born Oct. 13, 1935, in Ohio, Richard Rogers graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. He married Penny, a Massachusetts native, at a church in Longmeadow, Mass., where he will be buried.

Among his activities in retirement, the Kahala resident volunteered with the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, Hanauma Bay, the Honolulu Boy Choir and the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy.

He willed his body to the medical school, which will hold a farewell celebration.

Rogers is also survived by sons Richard Jr. and Jonathan, daughters Wendy ­Hazel and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, and seven grandchildren.

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