Last updated on May 5th, 2017 at 03:52 pm
Mr. T. Gary Rogers, former longtime chairman and CEO of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, passed away May 2. He was 74. He died doing what he loved, playing tennis at his home in Oakland, California, according to his obituary.
Mr. Rogers was the chairman and CEO of Oakland-based Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream for 30 years. He also served as a former chairman of Safeway Inc., the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Levi Strauss & Co.
Mr. Rogers was born in Stockton, California, in 1942 and spent his youth in Marin County. A distinguished Eagle Scout, he attributed much of his personal character to his experiences as a Boy Scout, as an oarsman on the crew at UC Berkeley and his family’s deeply-held values of integrity and honor.
In 1963, he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He was named UC Berkeley All University Athlete that same year and rowed in the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials.
In the summer of 1964, Mr. Rogers married Kathleen “Cab” Tuck, whom he met while working on staff at the UC Berkeley Alumni Association Tahoe Alumni Center.
Mr. Rogers spent the mid-’60s serving a two-year term in the Army as a lieutenant in the Air Defense Artillery based on Mount Tamalpais.
In 1968, he earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and was honored as a George F. Baker Scholar.
At 34, Mr. Rogers and his business partner, William F. “Rick” Cronk, purchased Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, a small regional ice cream company. For the next three decades years, Mr. Rogers led the company and, together with Cronk, built Dreyer’s into the best-selling ice cream company in the U.S.
Mr. Rogers often said the building of the Dreyer’s corporate culture was “the best thing we ever did at the company.” It was a culture based on empowerment; respecting and trusting in the abilities of each individual. Every person felt a personal responsibility to “make a difference.” It made Dreyer’s a coveted place to work. In 2002, Dreyer’s was sold to Nestlé.
Mr. Rogers also was a director of Shorenstein Properties, Stanislaus Food Products and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. He founded and chaired the Oakland Dialogue, a group of East Bay political, educational and business leaders.
Mr. Rogers was inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame, was named Harvard Business School Business Leader of the Year and received the Wharton Business School Joseph Wharton Award. He also received the University of California Bear of the Year Award.
Mr. Rogers was the primary benefactor of the University of California Cal Crew Forever Endowment Fund, the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center and the California Rowing Club for elite post-graduate oarsmen. He also was a member of the High Performance Olympic Committee of U.S. Rowing.
He held numerous public service leadership positions and was the benefactor of the Rogers Family Foundation, which supports the University of California, education and activities for youth in Oakland and the East Bay, Bay Area hospitals, and bioscience research and innovation organizations.
Mr. Rogers lived “The Spirit of Adventure,” according to his obituary. His passion for travel took him all over the world—to both the North and South Poles, the plains of the Serengeti and the Amazon jungle. He sought out challenges and fought fiercely to overcome them, living by the motto, “There is no such thing as can’t; there is only won’t.”
Mr. Rogers loved and took great joy in his family. He and his wife were married for 52 years and they watched their four sons, Andy, Matt, Brian and John, marry and have children of their own. His 11 grandchildren will dearly miss their Bwana, the name they called him that means “headman” in Swahili. Mr. Rogers also is survived by his 102-year-old mother, Virginia, and brothers, Don and Jim.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that Mr. Rogers’ legacy be recognized through donation to these organizations:
• T. Gary Rogers Endowment Fund for the UC Berkeley Men’s Crew
Rogers Family Office
10 Clay Street, Suite 200
Oakland, CA 94607
• Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, California
Lighthouse Community Charter School
Attn: Jenna Stauffer
444 Hegenberger Road
Oakland, CA 94621
An outdoor memorial service will be held at the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center in Oakland at 11 a.m. Monday, May 15.