Local accident victim mourned
MILFORD – At her memorial service last week, family and friends of Debess Rogers tried to summon her spirit of compassion while mourning the loss of a woman they said "had a hearty love of the gifts life has to offer."
Rogers was struck and killed by a truck as she walked up Center Road in the early morning hours of July 15 after the car she and her husband were riding in broke down not far from their house. They were on their way back from a concert in Massachusetts.
State police say a Lyndeborough teenager driving a 2013 blue Dodge Ram crossed over the road and hit Rogers, 60. They have declined to name the 17-year-old driver, citing her age.
On Monday, Trooper Michael Pelletier said in an email that no charges have been filed and the accident is still under investigation.
Rogers’ husband of 43 years, Guntis Grabazs, told the standing-room-only gathering at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation that he was struggling to deal with his sorrow and pain without giving in to anger.
"I feel very sorry for the 17-year-old who carelessly killed her," he said. "Our love will pull us through."
Trying to maintain his composure, Grabazs talked about how all three of their children were born in their Lyndeboroughhome and how his wife’s spirit has already visited him and the children.
As photos appeared on screens showing Rogers’ wide grin as she played with her family, her children described her as loving, caring and full of fun.
Their daughter, Lara, who had been bicycling in Europe with her husband when she got the terrible news, talked about how people called her mother "Saint Debess" and how, on the day she died, Rogers sent her a message saying how happy she was that her daughter was on a great adventure.
Rogers wasn’t judgmental or critical, she said. She believed in "live and let live."
"My mom loved the Earth, she loved to develop her intellect," she said, and was an inspiration to many people when she went back to school at age 58 and changed her career path.
Rogers also loved peace and justice, Lara said, and knew how to weave singing and dancing into work and leisure.
Rogers was an active member of the church. Jeanne Nieuwejaar, minister emerita, remembered when she first came to the church with her two young children. She was a happy woman, happy "in a very deep way, with a goodness and affirmation of life that touched everyone," she said.
Friends she made years ago at Digital Equipment Corp. or through her love for the Grateful Dead also talked about Rogers’ goodness and the fun they had with her.
"Easily one of the best people I’ve ever known," one said. "We wondered if it possible to have so much fun."
Early in the service, the church’s minister, the Rev. Barbara McKusick Liscord, noted there was "so much love in this room" for someone who died so "suddenly and shockingly … who led a life full of love and connection, and who was consistently kind."
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.