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Albuquerque attorney Pat Rogers was a strong supporter of First Amendment rights, an advocate of public access to government records, and an influential force in Republican politics at the state and national level.
But his wife, Julie, remembers him most for his sense of humor. She met him at a surprise birthday party he threw for himself.
“I was unmarried and a friend took me to the party,” she said. “I loved that he had a party like that. Humor was a big part of his life.”
Rogers, 66, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, died Saturday at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center.
Survivors include his wife; son, Nathan, and wife Lindsay; and his son, Jack. Benefits are pending.
Calm and determined
Rogers was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, but moved with his family from the Air Force to Clovis when he was a teenager. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico in 1977 and earned his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, in 1982.
Prior to beginning his law practice in New Mexico, he worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt, RN.M.
Rogers was a member of the New Mexico Republican National Committee from 2008 to 2016 and also represented the New Mexico Republican Party for many years. He was a former board member of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and had been a partner and vice president of the Albuquerque law firm Modrall Sperling. In recent years, he had his own law firm, Patrick J. Rogers, LLC.
In a statement released Monday, FOG remembers Rogers as a man whose dedication to open government had lasting effects.
“In the early 1990s, he played a key role in passing favorable amendments to the Public Records Inspection Act and provided advice to FOG’s founding Executive Director, Bob Johnson,” the statement read. .
Albuquerque attorney Charles Peifer, who represents the Journal and is a member of the FOG board, met Rogers in the late 1980s.
“Pat was passionate about free speech and public access to government records,” Peifer said. “He would lobby for free in the Legislative Assembly for FOG. He was very active in the Republican Party, particularly on electoral and redistricting issues.
Peifer said Rogers was a calm but determined attorney with a wonderful, dry sense of humor.
“He was a friend to everyone he met, especially when they had a common interest,” Peifer said. “He loved practicing law. He was not a loud guy, although he was involved in high profile cases and many controversial cases. What drew customers to him was that he was a very steady hand.
Rogers represented The Gallup Independent newspaper for many years.
Freelance publisher Robert “Bob” Zollinger said the news of Rogers’ death left him devastated with sadness.
“I thought Pat had a lot of integrity and was really, really smart,” Zollinger said. “He gave me good advice and his legal knowledge was excellent.”
Former Gov. Susana Martinez recalled that Rogers would send pies to the governor’s office on the last night of the state legislative session.
“He was just a really kind soul,” she said. “I never saw him angry or upset about anything.”
In 2012, Rogers’ career suffered a setback when he sent an email to Martinez staffers that appeared to suggest the governor’s attendance at a summit with the state’s Native American tribal leaders disgraced George Armstrong Custer. , a U.S. Army cavalry officer much hated by many Indian peoples.
Rogers called the email a “poor attempt at humor”, but the backlash prompted his resignation from law firm Modrall Sperling and the FOG board.
Pat and Julie Rogers would have celebrated their 36th birthday this week.
Julie said life with Pat was filled with sports, in addition to comedy, law and politics.
“Basketball was a big thing for him,” she said. “Most of the time we were married, he played almost every weekend with guys his own age. He ran, he swam, he participated in many marathons and triathlons. Rogers coached basketball children’s club and his son Jack’s elementary school soccer team, and he encouraged Jack and Nathan’s efforts in competitive swimming.
“He loved Lobo Sports and the Dallas Cowboys,” Julie said.
But it was always his sense of humor and positive outlook that stood out.
Ex-Governor Martinez said she had to cancel dinner plans with Rogers and his wife, and when she called him, he answered at the hospital. She said that despite his declining health, he retained his dry sense of humor.
“He was positive even during that call,” Martinez said, noting that they had planned to reschedule dinner.
The Journal’s Capital Bureau Chief Dan Boyd contributed to this report.