St. Joe’s (ME) assistant Ryan Rogers passes away


It is with broken hearts that we announce the passing from this life to the next of Ryan Conner Rogers, surrounded by his adoring family and girlfriend in the comfort of his childhood home in Falmouth. Ry left this world to be with The Lord on April 23, 2021 at the age of 28 after a fierce battle with glioblastoma. He was born in Portland, Maine on July 16, 1992, the oldest of four children born to Christopher and Novaleigh Rogers.

Chris and Nova moved to Falmouth in 1997 so Ryan could start kindergarten there. It was one of the best decisions they ever made as the lives that Ryan and his siblings enjoyed growing up in Falmouth were packed with fond and precious memories. The family also joined The Woodlands Club in Falmouth the year Ryan was born. That facility would also become a very big part of Ryan’s and his family’s lives. Ry was a gifted athlete excelling early on in soccer and basketball, but golf would become his great passion as he became a single-digit handicap. Ry’s childhood featured a steady dose of pickup games, riding bikes and scooters, and catching frogs in the neighborhood with his siblings and friends. He and his siblings were blessed to have all of his grandparents and two great grandparents live nearby and they were all deeply involved in his life. He and his siblings relished in the family traditions surrounding holidays, especially Easter egg hunts, Christmas Eve family gatherings, and Christmas Day treasure hunts. He loved sports camp at The Woodlands and growing up playing golf there. His favorite sports memory came his senior year at Falmouth High School when he was co-captain of the basketball team, among the leading scorers in the conference, and culminating with a gold ball by winning the Class B State Championship game in a double overtime thriller over Camden Hills.

Following his graduation from Falmouth High in 2010 Ryan completed a post-graduate year at Bridgton Academy that was a very formative year as he was only 17 when he graduated from high school. He earned academic honors and played soccer there as well as basketball in the competitive NEPSAC league that would feature several players from around the conference that would go on to play in the NBA. From there Ryan went on to pursue his undergraduate degree at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI. His college experience was interrupted in his last year by his first diagnosis of a brain tumor in 2015. Ry battled through surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy from September 2015 until June of 2016. During that span he picked out a new golden retriever puppy that he named Calypso. Calypso became the beloved best friend to the entire family, but she always knew she was “Ry Ry’s dog.” In the spring of 2016 The Woodlands Golf Course serendipitously opened in March for the only time in the 24 years the family belonged there and it became a true sanctuary for Ry as he battled through his chemo regimen. Ry honed his golf skills by patiently and incessantly practicing, so as his white counts dropped, so did his handicap. In June of 2016 he was given a clean bill of health. Just a week later he participated in his favorite event of the year, The Rogers Memorial Golf Tournament (benefitting Maine Children’s Cancer Program) at Poland Spring. As fate would have it, his team (alongside his best friends and favorite golf buddies Bubba, Al, and Bruce) would win the tournament in storybook fashion. Ry resumed his studies shortly thereafter with a renewed vigor and level of commitment and earned his BA degree in Sports Marketing and Management from Salve in May of 2017. During that span he also met Grace Dancoes in December of 2016, and their relationship carried to the present day. In Grace’s words: “Ryan and I hoped for a lifetime of memories that would fill a book, but got only a chapter. However, in the short time we had together, we shared wonderful laughs, private jokes, and tender, tranquil moments at the lake. He was a quiet teacher, and I learned from him many valuable life lessons – most importantly, to live in the moment, enjoy the simple things in life, not dwell on things I cannot change, cherish my family, and enjoy the person sitting in front of me.”

In the spring of 2017 Ryan was hired as a volunteer assistant on the St. Joseph’s College of Maine’s (SJC) Men’s Basketball Team. He fell in love with the school, the coaches, and the players. In the spring of 2018 he was hired as a graduate assistant to continue his coaching and to pursue his graduate degree there. In the spring of 2020 he earned his Master’s Degree with honors in Business Leadership and was subsequently hired in the St. Joe’s Admissions Office as an admissions officer. During his time at SJC Ry became part of a family that wrapped itself tightly around him when his illness would return. Ry developed deeply impactful relationships with the players on the team. During his battle they took the time to send him personal videos encouraging him in his fight, they wrote down favorite memories and experiences for him to reflect upon, and they signed a team basketball to give to him as a motivational souvenir. Ry also coached AAU basketball from 2017 through 2019 and demonstrated professionalism and character as a positive role model for the young men that played for him.

Ry loved playing video games with his siblings and friends. He had a great sense of humor and cherished funny shows and movies and was renowned for quoting famous lines verbatim off the top of his head. He loved music and his tastes ranged from modern country to classic rock ‘n roll. Ry established himself as a very savvy investor and loved to engage with his Dad in regular “stock talks.” He was passionate about the Boston Celtics and loved attending games. He was a long time Michigan State basketball fan, and a friend of the family recently got Coach Tom Izzo to send a personal video directly to Ry encouraging him to keep fighting. He enjoyed rooting for the New York Football Giants and the Boston Red Sox. His Uncle Matt got former Red Sox players Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Josh Reddick to also send personal videos directly to Ry and those kind gestures really touched him. He loved to watch golf on TV every weekend throughout the season. His favorite personal golf memories included the annual Rogers Memorial Golf Tournament, annual trips to Sugarloaf with Bubba, Al, and Bruce, the annual SJC Golf Tournament at Spring Meadows, recurrent golf trips to Florida with his Dad and brothers, and playing as a member at Point Sebago in 2019 and 2020. As true testaments to his commitment to practicing, he created a practice chipping area at the family retreat on Sebago Lake and always had practice putting mats set up in Falmouth as well as at Sebago. Ry loved family gatherings at their vacation home in Florida, where his time spent in the hot tub was legendary. His favorite golf courses there included Celebration, Championsgate, Disney Palm and Magnolia, and Falcon’s Fire. Ry was most at peace living on Sebago Lake, swimming, boating, dominating in cornhole, and chilling.

When his brain tumor came back in September of 2020 in the most aggressive form, Ryan handled it with the same grace and courage as he did when it first appeared in 2015. He never complained or asked “why me?” He simply rolled up his sleeves and committed fully to the fight. Ry firmly embraced his faith as a Christian, and this inner strength became infectious to everybody around him. What emanated from his magnetic charm and faith-centered life was what his family affectionately labeled his Prayer Army. What started with dozens grew to hundreds and then to thousands. A centerpiece of Ry’s lasting legacy will be how he drew many people to their faith one person at a time. The personal testimonies abound and include people who confessed they never prayed in their life until Ryan’s illness but were suddenly praying regularly now; people who had strayed from the faith but found themselves back on the path because of Ry; and people who felt they were always steadfast in their faith who experienced a whole new level of commitment praying and pulling for Ry. There were hundreds of random acts of kindness that family and friends showered upon Ry and his family during this trying time that will never be forgotten. One that was particularly meaningful for Ry was a fundraiser that his dear friend Jess DiPhilippo set up in Ry’s honor to raise money for Dana-Farber (#TEAMRYROG). To date it has raised over $45,000 as people have poured out their generosity to support Ry. Jess also used connections to get Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens to do a personal video directly to Ry encouraging him to carry on the fight. That led to a second personal video where Coach got the whole team to shout out “Ryan Rogers” in the team locker room gathering before a recent game in Milwaukee. These two gestures by Coach Stevens and Ry’s beloved Celtics were deeply meaningful to him and to his family. The Holy Spirit of God has been stirred up and will remain busy at work in the lives of countless people because of Ryan’s commitment to his faith, his indomitable spirit, and his courage.

When the family received the diagnosis on St. Patrick’s Day that Ry had maybe a week left, they endeavored to live in the moment and cherish each and every day they had left with him. Through the grace of God and Ry’s inner strength and resolve, one week turned into five. The family will be forever thankful for that extra time with Ry. There were many wonderful moments during that span where Ry’s incredible sense of humor had family and friends laughing, and his positivity and resolve gave everyone strength despite the gravity and reality of the circumstances. The steady stream of family and friends visiting was a testament to the positive impact Ry had and will always have on all the people around him. And the genuine love and loyalty that Aaron, Justin, and Kaitlin demonstrated, along with Grace, dropping everything in their lives to stand firmly by their brother’s side, was a perfect reflection of the selfless love and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Ryan was predeceased by his great grandparents Heuler and Edith Marden; and his grandparents Hon. Edward and Joyce Rogers. He is survived by his parents Chris and Nova Rogers; his siblings Aaron, Justin, and Kaitlin Rogers; his grandparents Grampy Brian Marden and Grammy Hope, and Gramma Linda Marden; 19 aunts and uncles; and 30 first cousins. Ry’s cousin EJ and he were separated by just 2 days, and the symbiotic relationship that they shared since birth is beautiful and rare. He leaves behind the love of his life for the last 4 1/2 years, Grace Dancoes, and her wonderful family. He also leaves behind many, many good friends, but none truer than Al, Bruce, and his very best friend in the world, Mitchell Beaulieu (aka Bubba).

Visiting hours will be on Monday, May 3rd from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm at Jones, Rich & Barnes Funeral Home located at 199 Woodford Street in Portland. A private funeral service will be held on Tuesday, May 4th at 10 am. Ryan’s funeral service will be livestreamed. Charitable donations in Ryan’s memory can be sent to Maine Children’s Cancer Program, 22 Bramhall St, Portland, ME 04102 to the attention of Ashton Hunter-Sildve.

MEMORIAL SERVICE LIVESTREAM (Tuesday, May 4, 10:00 – 11:00 AM)

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