B. H. "Johnny" Rogers

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Bernard H. "Johnny" Rogers​

Louisiana State Senator
for Caddo and DeSoto parishes​
In office
1952​ – 1968​
Preceded by Riemer Calhoun​

Charles Emery Tooke, Jr.​

Succeeded by Bryan A. Poston​

Louisiana State Representative
for DeSoto Parish​
In office
1950​ – 1952​
Preceded by R. Shirley Williams​
Succeeded by Sam C. Murray​

Born October 5, 1905​
Grand Cane, DeSoto Parish, Louisiana​
Died April 23, 1977 (aged 71)
Resting place Grand Cane Cemetery ​
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Josephine Augusta Mann Rogers
Children JoAnn Rogers

Martha Jean Rogers​

Residence Grand Cane, Louisiana​
Alma mater Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (New York City)
Occupation Businessman; Professor

Farmer; Cattleman

Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Lieutenant colonel
Battles/wars World War II

Bernard H. Rogers, known as B. H. "Johnny" Rogers (October 5, 1905 – April 23, 1977),[1] was a conservative Democrat and "good government" activist from rural Grand Cane in DeSoto Parish, south of Shreveport, who was a member of both houses of the Louisiana legislature. ​

From 1950 to 1952, Rogers filled an unexpired term in the Louisiana House of Representatives upon the death of Representative R. Shirley Williams.[2] From 1952 to 1968, he served in the state Senate, alongside fellow |conservative Jackson Beauregard Davis (1918-2016), an attorney from Shreveport.[3]

==Background==​ Over his lifetime, Rogers constantly changed careers. A graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, he left a professorship at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge over disgust with political encroachment on his teaching duties.[4] He entered the United States Army Air Forces in World War II and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.[1] He operated a chain of gasoline stations, garages, and parking lots, but he yearned to return to his hometown of Grand Cane and engage in farming, as had earlier generations of his family dating back to an 1836 land grant.[4] Grand Cane was incorporated as a village in 1899, six years before Rogers was born.​

While in Baton Rouge, Rogers met his wife, the former Josephine Augusta Mann (1918-1987), while she was visiting a former college roommate. Mrs. Rogers graduated from Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts. Her middle name is the same as the capital city, Augusta, of her native state of Maine. His candidacy for and subsequent election to the state House of Representatives came through encouragement of a group of friends in DeSoto Parish, many being fellow square dancers of Johnny and Josephine Rogers.[4]

In search of good government

Outspoken in his conservative political views, Rogers constantly questioned the state of politics in Louisiana:​
For years I have discussed good government from all over. It's a strange thing. Everyone is in favor of it. And yet, we haven't had good government in Louisiana in my lifetime. I wondered about this. I wondered why we couldn't have good government if everyone wants it. ... I haven't found a governor yet who is ready to back good government. Kennon wasn't. Long wasn't. And Jimmie Davis isn't. ... I made a mistake in endorsing Davis for governor in 1959. Davis fought everything that had good business behind it. ...[4]

Rogers also questioned certain policies of Louisiana Education Superintendent Shelby M. Jackson, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor in the 1963 primary election. He concluded that the voters are themselves partly the impediment to "good government" because of the formation of both organized and unorganized interest groups with the expectation of capturing part of the public treasury.[4]

In 1959, Rogers carried the editorial support of The Shreveport Times, a formerly conservative newspaper, the conservative Shreveport Journal (shut down 1991), and The Mansfield Enterprise.[5]

Rogers acquired for a time a statewide reputation. He lobbied for a Code of Ethics for state officials, which was eventually signed into law by Governor John J. McKeithen, the winner of the 1963-1964 gubernatorial election. He also failed in his bill to ban "deadheads", persons who perform few if any visible duties but are placed on the state payroll by legislators who reward key supporters with a tie to the state treasury. Rogers became known as afighter against political corruption and a leader in conservative and good government ranks.[4]

In a speech in Farmerville in Union Parish north of Ruston, Rogers claimed that "pork barrel money that Louisiana governors have had to hand out freely to campaign contributors in the past just may not be available any longer." He urged businesspeople: "Do not contribute your hard-earned cash to any political candidate expecting to double, triple, or quadruple your money in state business."[6] Rogers said he would not run for a statewide office or endorse personalities in the 1963 gubernatorial election but would continue his focus on good government principles.[6]

One of Rogers's legislative allies, Harold Montgomery of rural Doyline in southwestern Webster Parish, said the Louisiana legislature is independent only when a two-thirds vote is required for select issues; otherwise the governor's program is adopted. "The way Louisiana is governed is by the man we elect governor of this state. With a bad governor we'll fail," Montgomery said at a meeting in Shreveport in May 1966. Rogers agreed: "The government of Louisiana cannot be any better than the governor of Louisiana."[7] Rogers urged citizens interested in good government to come to committee hearings in Baton Rouge. In such cases, their mere presence will impress legislators, he added.[7]

In 1962, though he declined to seek the governorship himself the following year, Rogers called for the election of "a governor who is big enough, generous enough and honest to the point that he will sacrifice the dictatorial powers now held by the governor and return that power to the people and to the legislature where it so desperately needs to be ..."[8]

Later years

On March 24, 1973, five years after leaving the state Senate, Rogers was among three Democrats elected to the Grand Cane Village Council. The election drew a court challenge because of a dispute raised by a defeated candidate, Sidney Wells Platt (1915-1996), over a second filing period called by the party executive committee. Rogers was out of the parish during the second period and did not re-file. The committee filed for him, against the contention of Platt. The court ruled, however, that the second filing period was illegal.[9]

Rogers and his wife are interred at Grand Cane Cemetery.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Bernard H. Rogers (1905-1977). findagrave.com. Retrieved on June 24, 2020.
  2. Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2024: DeSoto Parish. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on June 24, 2020.
  3. Senate Directory, 1880 - Present. Louisiana State Senate. Retrieved on June 24, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Senator Embarks on 'Holy Crusade'. Lake Charles American-Press (August 21, 1962). Retrieved on June 24, 2020.
  5. Rogers advertisement, The Shreveport Times, December 4, 1959, p. 6-A.
  6. 6.0 6.1 State Solon Sees End to 'Pork Barrel'. Lake Charles American-Press (October 11, 1962). Retrieved on June 24, 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Harry Taylor "Legislators support med bonds, Shreveport Journal, May 1966 (day of month not available.
  8. To fhe Rescue, Men! (editorial). Lake Charles American-Press (November 13, 1962). Retrieved on June 24, 2020.
  9. Platt v. Municipal Democratic Executive Committee, Village of Grand Cane, Louisiana. leagle.com (June 12, 1973). Retrieved on June 24, 2020.

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