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In memory of Dee Jai Martin Rogers, 1973-2004

Dee Jai’s life was far too short, but she made the most of the time she had – she believed in living life to the fullest and in trying anything new, in spending time (both quality and quantity) with people she loved, and in our country and the uniform.  More than any of that, she believed in God.  She was an amazing testimony of treating everyone she met with kindness, dignity and grace.  Even in the face of terrible pain in the hospital being poked and tested all through the night, the love she had for people would come flooding out and she would tell the med techs, nurses, doctors, and janitors thank you and what a great job they were doing.  But long before she was sick she was that way – befriending those who maybe weren’t as popular, seeing the good in everyone, and building people up.

Dee Jai at Glacier Bay, Iceland
Dee Jai at Glacier Bay, Iceland

A patriot through and through, she was a distinguished graduate from ROTC at Colorado State and received a regular commission in the USAF in 1995.  She served in Alabama, Colorado, and Iceland and had the privilege of serving alongside a multitude of wonderful people in our extended Air Force family, many of whom still “take care” of me today.   Her favorite job was whatever one she was doing – but she liked her time as the 310th Space Group (now Wing) Executive Officer the most.  She relished the management of information, making processes work more smoothly and getting people recognized for the good stuff they did.

at Redwood National Park, California
at Redwood National Park, California

After five years of friendship and then dating in college, we were married for eight wonderful years.  Her father, a chaplain in the Army, married us, and I’m fortunate to still have a great relationship with her family – her parents and all the aunts and uncles are awesome!  We liked hiking (to include CO 14-ers), traveling, road trips, and National Parks the most.  She was big into movies and was really good at telling you what actor was who and recognizing what other films they’d been in.  She loved her kimchi!  She had a deal going with one of the guys that worked security in her building – she’d fill a Tupperware with candy bars and it would come back in a few days full of homemade kimchi from his wife.  She would sit on the couch with her Tupperware of the spicy stuff, pop a movie in, and go to town till it was all gone, face all red and sweat starting to bead on her forehead.  Sometimes I really miss that smell.

Dee Jai loved God, and she acted like it!  Her faith, prior to and during her illness, was powerful to the end.  She wasn't perfect, of course, but she constantly sought God’s guidance in her life, believed in prayer, and had absolutely no fear.  The way she faced her own mortality was nothing short of awe inspiring.  Her only sadness, she told me, was in leaving me behind.

She succumbed to stomach cancer on Sep 4, 2004, four weeks and one day after her initial (stage 4) cancer diagnosis.  Stomach cancer is that way; it sneaks up on you with symptoms like indigestion or other routine ailments, and about the time you really think you ought to be going to the doctor it’s getting beyond what can medically be done.  It moves quickly and quietly:  We ran the Bolder Boulder 10k together the previous May, and in June she did a team triathlon with two friends.  No one even imagined at that point that she’d be gone in three months. 

Her friends and family and I will always remember her as the beautiful child of God that she was, and I am tremendously thankful for their love and support.  I have no doubt that the kimchi is especially good in heaven.

A bench in her memory in Cheyenne Canyon city park
memorial bench in the park
Thanks to Daniel Oh.