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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
On last February 27, Henry Rogers, '62, Harvard's oldest living graduate for many years, told reporters covering his peaceful 98th birthday celebration: "My job is to keep any of the other fellows from ever becoming the oldest living Harvard graduate." But yesterday morning, Mr. Rogers died, concluding a long career, stable and energetic to the end, which sets a notable example to those who will succeed him in years to come as the oldest representative of the oldest University in America.
His creed was simple and was taken from a fourteenth century philosopher: "He who lives moderately, lives sanely. He who lives sanely, lives for a long time." This creed Mr. Rogers practiced in daily life. Born in Boston in 1839, he was the oldest member of the Boston Bar Association, continuing his law office at 10 Postoffice Square when well past his 98th year. He passed his bar examination in 1868, six years after graduation from college. Four of the intervening years were taken up with naval service in the Civil War. An outspoken critic of the New Deal, he reiterated his stand on his last birthday by blaming the Roosevelt administration for "the greatest demoralization in our history". He was also one of the major donors of the Harvard Theatre Collection, considered one of the finest in the country.
With the passing of Mr. Rogers, a colorful figure departs from the gala Harvard commencement picture. He attended practically every graduation exercises, except when in ill health, and his cane and white beard were familiar June sights as he proudly led the alumni procession on such occasions. Only by a scant day did he outlive John T. Morse, '60, aged 97, second oldest alumnus, who died Saturday at his home in Needham. Thus the honor position in the procession now passes to John Kittredge Browne, '69, of Chicago. But moderate Mr. Rogers will not soon be forgotten as typifying the Harvard of generation now past.
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