9/11 Remembrance: Jean D. Rogér - MASSGOLF

Longmeadow CC, Community Members Cherish Memories of Ever Beloved Jeanie Rogér, Flight Attendant on American Airlines Flight 11

By Steve Derderian

As we approach another solemn anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, we pause to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost on that fateful day. Among them was a young Longmeadow Country Club member named Jean D. Rogér, who had a future as bright as her talents. Rogér was 24 and about a year into her early career as a flight attendant when she filled in last second for a shift aboard American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston. Tragically, that aircraft was the first to be hijacked, and it eventually struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

While every community across the country has been touched in some way by the events of that day, the Rogér family has taken a leading role in memorializing those lost, while also pursuing many changes to improve the safety of air travel. And with the help of the community, both from Longmeadow Country Club and the town it resides in, Jeanie’s life is honored in so many ways. Golf was just one of her long list of talents. Those who knew her — and it’d be a foolish task to try to count — appreciated what she brought into this world: an immense passion for people and the world around her. Even as the years pass, those closest to her often think of a Jeanie story and smile — just as she did so often. 

Learn more about how Jeanie’s memory lives on today. 

Ellien ‘Punky’ Rogér makes an annual trek every June back to her former home of Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Part of this trip is to present an annual scholarship to a high school student soon to graduate. It also includes catching up with friends at Longmeadow Country Club. It’s a poignant yet stirring reminder of the life of her daughter Jeanie D. Rogér, a gregarious individual who never ceased living life to the fullest.

She keeps showing up for Jeanie without fail because, well, she remembers her daughter always being there for others.

“She was an outgoing person, and that included everybody,” Punky Rogér said. “She would take a wallflower and put her into the middle of the group. She was comfortable with my grandmother’s friends as much as her own friends. Even though she was a bit of a rascal, her smile, from the get-go, came naturally.”

Jeanie D. Rogér is best described as a people person, and lived life with the utmost passion. (Contributed)

In her obituary, Jeanie Rogér was simply described by those who knew her best as a people person. True, she was a glowing presence who could light up any room she walked into and leave a positive mark on everybody. But what set her apart was her wonderment with everything, whether athletics, music, cooking, the natural world, travel, or just about any sort of antics she’d get into. One might consider her a Renaissance woman.

While other people would swat away geese, she embraced their presence and that of other wildlife. Rogér loved sunsets, especially those over Lake Erie. She attended Penn State University and initially studied environmental science. “She was going to save dolphins or something,” her mother recalled. But she was a free spirit, and becoming a flight attendant allowed her to mix her enthusiasm for travel and people.

Tom Rogér, Jeanie’s father, grew up in Florida, while Punky was originally from Pittsburgh, where she had played golf at nearby esteemed Oakmont Country Club. The family moved to Longmeadow when Jeanie was still an infant and originally took up tennis. By age 10, Jeanie started golf lessons and kept going.

Though she was a state champion in swimming, she played golf with a “classic, flowy swing” and was able to share this game with friends and family. Jeanie didn’t play golf in high school, but, “She was willing to play golf with anybody, but lots of the young boys wouldn’t include her because she’d beat them,” Punky said with a chuckle.

From left, Roberta Bolduc, her mother Grace, Punky Rogér and Jeanie Rogér pose for a photo at Longmeadow Country Club. (Contributed)

The Rogér family was particularly close with longtime member Roberta Bolduc Mrs. B-duc, as Jeanie called her. In addition to her 14 club championships, Bolduc played in 10 USGA Championships and spent decades as a Rules Official, both on the local and national level. The Bolduc and Rogér families played often, including in the club Mother-Daughter championship, and Jeanie learned a lot from her.

Bolduc was there in the good times, and moments that weren’t so much. On September 11, Bolduc was coincidentally flying home from Pittsburgh, Punky’s hometown, after being eliminated from the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur at Allegheny Country Club. Bolduc’s plane landed in Hartford, Connecticut, at 9:25 a.m., mere minutes before a complete ground stoppage was ordered across the country. She later found out the news about Jeanie, as did other community members dismayed by the day’s events.

“Hundreds of townspeople spontaneously gathered at the Rogér family house and grieved for Jeannie, her family, and really all of us well into the night,” recalled Milton Reach III, a third-generation Longmeadow Country Club member and club historian. “Jeannie was beloved by the town of Longmeadow. In a strange way, Jeannie being a 9/11 victim, provided real-life perspective to what a senseless tragedy this was.”

In the ensuing days, Bolduc took a walk with Punky on the golf course and the two couldn’t help but notice one thing in particular. “It was a very foggy morning and we walked down the third hole at Longmeadow CC. Out of the heavy fog, a beautiful great blue heron flew along the fairway next to us and then disappeared into the fog again. It was a stunning moment.”

“It was a way of saying she’s with us,” Punky added. “I can’t walk out there without smiling. I didn’t used to.”

When you walk through the sprawling property at Longmeadow Country Club, it’s hard to miss all the tributes to Jeanie. There’s a bench, a memorial plaque, as well as a signed flag by some of golf greats Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Arnold Palmer. Longmeadow hosted the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship in 1995 the USGA’s centennial year and this commemorative flag was provided for the tournament auction benefiting the Jeanie Rogér 9/11 Memorial and presented to the Rogér family.

The club’s women’s most improved award is also named after Jeanie.

This commemorative pin flag is signed by Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus. (Contributed)

After September 11, Tom Rogér became a founder of Families of September 11 Inc., which among it’s stated goals are:

  • To support families and children by offering updated information on issues of interest, access to resources, relevant articles, and advocacy to raise awareness about the effects of terrorism and public trauma.
  • To champion domestic and international policies that respond to the threat of terrorism including support for the 9/11 Commission Recommendations, and to reach out to victims of terror worldwide.

In addition to getting policies implemented like locking all cockpits on aircraft, the non-profit organization helped design the memorial at Ground Zero, one that has Jeanie’s name forever inscribed on it along with the nearly 3,000 victims that day.

“They did a fabulous job. It’s potent yet user-friendly,” Punky said.

Jeanie’s name is inscribed in bronze on the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. (Contributed)

The swimming pool at Longmeadow High School is also named after Jeanie, and among the most recent scholarship recipients is a young woman who competed for the school’s swimming and diving team.

Punky is continuously moved by the notes from kids who apply for the scholarship in Jeanie’s name, not only because they know her story but live life in a similar manner to her.

“We award people who would most exemplify her personality rascals who carried on in her way.”

“Our Favorite Things About Jeanie: Her winning and ready smile. Her beautiful golf swing. Her renditions of ‘Sweet Caroline’. Her risotto. Her giggle. The fact that Jeannie got more out of life in 24 years than most people do in a lifetime.”  (Excerpt from ‘We Remember’, a book in memory of all Massachusetts victims of September 11.)


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