Suddenly on September 14th Irma V. Rogers-Jackson went home to be with the Lord.
IRMA VIRGINIA ROGERS was the sixth of eight children born to the late James L. (Lutz) and Florence A. (Gussie) Rogers at 1846 Eagle St. in Southwest Baltimore. Along with the siblings she dearly loved, she was raised at 1834 Eagle St and thrived through the days of segregation and the “great depression.”
Irma was educated in the Baltimore City Public Schools System and attended a one-room school on Sharp St. in South Baltimore, Joseph H. Lockerman Elementary (#100), Booker T. Washington, Jr. (#130) and Douglass High Schools (#450). Her favorite subjects were reading and geography. She had a beautiful penmanship. In the third grade, she was featured in an article in the “Carroll Times” for her great performance in a play at School #100. As a child she loved to play jacks, shoot marbles with her brothers, play dodge ball and with her dolls.
She enjoyed dancing the lindy-hop, jitterbug and the black-bottom. On August 11th, at her 95th birthday luncheon, she danced the huck-a-buck! During WWII she frequently danced with the soldiers at the USO Clubs. Watching her brother (Mouse- a.k.a. Chief) and Leon Day play baseball for the Elite Giants, in the Negro League was one of her favorite past times.
She was the mother of an only child, (the late) Russell (Boopie) R. Rogers. Irma met and married Stoney Jackson; the marriage ended in divorce. There were no children from this union.
Irma was employed in her young adult years at restaurants and bakeries. She was recognized for her pound cakes and her famous cookies – sugar, peanut butter and chocolate chip. For decades she made these cookies during the Christmas season for her family, friends, co-workers, patients, etc. She even sent cookies to her nephews during their military deployments overseas.
For a brief period during WWII she worked as a solder- one of “Rosie the Riveter.” Her main career was a nurse’s aide in the Psychiatric Department of University Hospital. She retired circa 1983 with nearly 30 years of service. Her awards include Certificates of Service from the State Department of Maryland in the years 1969, 1974 and 1979; Certificate of Appreciation from the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City in 1974, Certificate of Commendation – Afro Mrs. Santa Program, 1974 and a Resolution from the City Council of Baltimore, 1995.
She traveled all across the United States and even Puerto Rico. Atlantic City, N.J. was her favorite place to “hang out.” Irma collected salt and pepper shakers from various tourist attractions and was also a doll collector. In her “hey days” Irma was a street skater and used to skate to and from school, a roller skater and for many years bowled duckpins at Lafayette Bowling Lanes. She enjoyed attending bull roasts, fairs and cultural festivals with her family, friends and co-workers.
At age ten she was taken by a neighbor to fellowship at a small church in South Baltimore. Unexpectedly, it was there that Irma gave her life to Christ and was baptized. For 83 years she has been a respected member of Evergreen A.M.E. Church. There she sang on the choir, participated on committees and in events, as well as supported and/or contributed to all fundraisers. She was given a Certificate of Appreciation in 1996 for 37 years of unbroken service to the Gospel Choir. She was the last living member of the church women’s “Personality Six Club, which existed for decades. Irma hosted memorable annual Christmas parties at her home, that were attended by her club, family members, friends and co-workers.
In her early twenties, Irma’s life-long calling/purpose was revealed to her - to care for and/or minister to the sick and the shut-in. She not only cared for sick relatives, friends, co-workers and patients, but mere strangers, too. She was known as “Miss Lady” to the residents to whom (on a weekly basis) she brought fruit and slices of homemade cake, in nursing homes on N. Eutaw and S. Charles Streets.
Circa 1983, she was nominated for her missionary work and service to others, by her niece, Monica, and was a recipient of the WJZ-TV Channel 13 Gold Salute (presented by Richard Scher and taped outside of Irma’s then Bolton Street dwelling).
Aunt Irma was sassy, jazzy, classy and a snazzy dresser. She always wore a hat or a tam (cocked to the side) on her head. With plenty of spunk and sometimes feisty, she lived life, life didn’t live her. Because of her beautiful “gams” (legs and her identifiable regal/royal strut), in the late 60’s she was affectionately nicknamed “Duchess” by her sister, Lula. Aunt Irma gave family members nicknames, too. She named Eagle St. “Tombstone Territory.”
Duchess was a giver of her time, talents, finances and prayers. Whatever she did for and/or gave you, know that it was from her heart. She had a memory like an elephant. She always sent cards and/or hand written notes to her family members for birthdays and other occasions. She signed them, “Fondly, Aunt Irma.”
In April, Aunt Irma was interviewed and questioned by her great-great niece, Michayla Webb, whose 5th grade Social Studies project was entitled – “The Matriarch of Your Family.” She asked, “Do you have any regrets?” Aunt Irma’s response was her only regrets in life were that she never bought a car and not going to visit Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Told that she had legs like the girls in Ipanema – she wanted to see and make the comparison for herself. When asked, “How would you like to be remembered?” Aunt Irma replied, “As a person who tried “to help somebody as I traveled along the way, then my living shall not be in vain.”
… And this was Her story. Her life was her song. Irma’s now praising her Savior, all the day long.
She leaves to celebrate her life and cherish the memories: grandson, Russell R. Rogers (Chucky), Jr., great granddaughter, Tamika S. Rogers, great-great grandson, Russell R. Rogers, III (CJ) and great-great-great granddaughter, Nevaeh A. Rogers; nieces- Janis Mims, Linda Smith, Monica Pinkett, Shellery Washington, Priscilla McCraw and Gladys Fields; nephews- Roger Brock, Wayne Brock, Noel Rozzell, Russell R. Rogers, Jr. (Bunky) and Leslie Drummond; great nieces and nephews include, but are not limited to: Andre Minor, Norma Melvin and Michael Jenson, as well as a host of great-great nieces and nephews, other relatives, several friends, former co-workers and the congregation of Evergreen A.M.E. Church.
The Rev. Dr. Samuel Ray, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church delivered the eulogy at the Sept. 20 services. The Rev. Michael D. Jenson officiated.