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Remembering Jim Rogers: Stern face hid sense of humor

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Updated: 6/23 9:44 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Jim Rogers’ face was stern when he scolded government and business leaders for not giving enough to education. He also could fire off a Twitter tirade that instantly stirred discussion on social media.

So Nevadans might be surprised to know that the private Rogers was a jokester who could laugh at himself. He never lost his sense of humor, even in the midst of intense business battles.

Recalling one such situation, Rogers said his friend and business partner, Lou Wiener Jr., called and said: “’you have a problem. Your other 16 board members hate you and say you’re a lunatic and don’t know what you’re doing.’”

“I said, ‘Okay, Lou, here’s what we’ll do. You come on board; we’ll get rid of the other 16. You work with me for six months,’ Rogers said. ‘If at the end of that time you agree that I’m a lunatic or don’t know what I’m doing, I’ll quit.’ He came on board; we got rid of the others.”

While Rogers was able to convince Wiener he was not a lunatic, he did possess a crazy side when it came to practical jokes.

The first example comes from Rogers’ penchant for cleanliness. As a boy, one of his favorite toys was an unusual choice for a toddler.

“Oh, I love vacuum cleaners,” Rogers said. “Who, what, why that would be, I don’t know, but that's one of my many neuroses. You know how I am.”

He suggested that “if you have a cluttered desk, they're going to think that the entire organization is a cluttered mess. If you have an organized desk, they tend to believe that you know what you're doing.”

Lisa Howfield, president and COO of Rogers’ television company, recalled one of his practical jokes that came to known as “the booty story.”

One day, Rogers called all the KSNV department heads to a meeting and told them of his new cleanliness policy, which required all employees to wear white booties over their shoes while in the building.

Supervisors told their staffs that Rogers was “sick and tired of having to clean the carpets, so we’re going to have to wear them.” Howfield said. “Complete chaos broke out” as some employees called their attorneys to see if their civil rights were being violated.

“Jim really believed the secret to a great prank like that was to see how long you could hold out before you told them,” she said. In this case, it was not until the end of the day.
Howfield also remembered the time Rogers had the personal restroom of one of his top executives converted into a broom closet while he was away. “So when he went to use his restroom there were brooms in there.”

Rogers enjoyed collecting classic automobiles and Western movie memorabilia. Over the past 15 years, he and Mike Pratt, who runs his car collection, restored 300 cars, taking them from rusted-out shells to showroom-quality beauties.

Rogers’ collection of old Western movie items – costumes, guns, hats and massive posters – grew so large and so fast, that he and his wife financed the “Beverly and Jim Rogers Line Pine Film History Museum” to display some of the memorabilia in the small California town where as many as 600 westerns were filmed.

Asked recently by KSNV anchor Jeff Gillan why he had such an affinity for cowboy movies, Rogers said: “Well, we grew up with those things. Right was right and wrong was wrong. That’s what they were all designed to do. There was only one script in every Western movie that was ever made. They taught my generation in the 40’s and 50’s the moral compass they should take. They were really simple and they were really funny.”

Continuing the Western theme, KSNV anchor Jim Snyder concluded his five-part televised series on the life of Jim Rogers with these words: “And now, after a lifetime of showdowns in board rooms and roundups of TV stations – always armed with a quick-draw wit, never afraid to stand up and fight – Jim Rogers rides off into the sunset, leaving a trail worn by his determination to leave the world a better place than he found it.”

“It’s a trail he hoped others will follow.”

READ PART 4: Remembering Jim Rogers: Partner Lou Wiener inspired his philanthropy
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