Comment Of The Day
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Tuesday, July 7, 1998

Roy Rogers

Roy Rogers
(Leonard Franklin Slye)
1911 to 1998

Well, if you had read any national or regional newspaper today, you could have known that this would be our subject today. His "Happy Trails" encouraged all of us babyboomers to strive harder, and he gave us a little wisdom in his reluctance to hurt (he always aimed to knock the gun out of the hands of his adversaries, rather than kill them). His was faithful to his wife. Dale Evans for over 50 years. He also, endearingly, loved his famous horse, Trigger, to a distraction stating that Trigger was, "the best thing that ever happened to me." And his sidekick, Gabby Hayes, considered him one of the greatest men he ever knew.

Roy was also the victim of tragedy: losing a child and his first wife, a down syndrome child who he and Dale loved dearly, and he was a generous benefactor adopting three troubled children and raising them to productive lives over the years. And all of this is in addition to his own son, Dusty, who is now curator of the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Institute.

Roy starred in almost 100 films (his favorite, predictably, was always "My Pal Trigger"). His long-running television series is an ineluctible part of television history, and he ultimately became the entrepreneurial founder of a fast-food chain that still survives today.

He out-cowboyed Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) and even the stellar Gene Autry. And his popular fame eclipsed even Franklin Roosevelt and even , if you can believe it, Abraham Lincoln in surveys during Roy's heyday. His singing of Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In," is still considered a classic and one of the best-selling songs in the history of music.

And there is a lot more: his activities in charities and work with the handicapped, the products licensed to his name, the 2.5 billion boxes of cereal with his picture on them, the wonderful books written by Dale, the signature song "Happy Trails To You," the parades, the international friendships (including Ronald Reagan in his heyday), his native American Heritage (Choctaw), and his famous Double-R-Bar ranch where he lived out his sunset years.

Yes, he was a cliche. Yes, many would now consider him anachronistic and out of date. But, Roy Roger's song and life are irresistible, and always -- fight it if you will -- reassuring and affirming. His was a life that was worth living and, for us, worth remembering. So, Roy: Happy Trails. You deserve it.

See you next time.

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