“I’ve always had a fond place in my heart for UK. We are so proud to be able to give back.”
Don Rogers ‘65 ‘67 and Penney Rogers ‘66 have created more than 50 years of memories and stories. Many of the sweetest are intertwined with the University of Kentucky.
A Chance Meeting
Penney and Don followed different paths to reach the University of Kentucky. For Penney, it was a matter of family tradition. Penney’s grandfather, father, and other family members attended UK—not to mention the countless other family members who are huge Kentucky sports fans.
For Don, a New Jersey native and golfer, the warmer Kentucky weather was the draw. “I just wanted to go south to school. I didn’t realize, though, that Kentucky is not that far in the south. I remember my freshman year it was twenty-two below zero.” Don did not let that first chilly winter deter him and went on to play golf for the university throughout his undergraduate years.
The couple met in fall of 1962 during a blind date orchestrated by Don and Penney’s roommates. Don and Penney attended an off-campus party, where they danced and talked all night, and by the end of the date, they were smitten. They dated the rest of the way through school and married, just before their graduation in 1965. Don received his B.S. in Marketing and Penney her B.S. in Microbiology. After welcoming their first child, Don went on to receive his MBA in 1967.
“I don’t know what we had in common to start with, but we’ve sure got a lot in common now.”
Since their romance began, the couple have shared more than 56 years together. Those years have brought three daughters, five grandchildren, and fulfilling careers in the energy sector.
Building a Legacy
Don and Penney co-founded and chaired Rogers Petroleum Inc., based in Morristown, Tenn. “When we started the business, it was just the two of us, two trucks, and two drivers.” Don served as the businesses’ sole salesperson and Penney the sole accountant.
Under the Rogers’ leadership, the company grew from a small rural distributorship into one of the largest conventional and renewable fuels, lubricants, and convenience store companies in the Southeast.
Now retired, the couple has no intention of slowing down. Instead, they have shifted their attention to supporting their community, family, and finding ways to make things better for other people. (And, in Don’s case, also making more time to cheer on the Wildcats and golf).
Giving a Gift that Can’t be Taken
The Rogers have generously given real estate to the University to pay forward the gift described by Penney’s grandfather as the one that can’t be taken.
“My grandfather really valued education. He said, ‘getting an education is the most important thing anyone can do,’ and ‘your education is the one thing that can’t be taken.’ This is one of the reasons we give.” The seed of giving real estate was planted when Don learned how gifts to the UK Real Estate Foundation support the Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign.
Gifts to the UK Real Estate Foundation play a critical role in creating scholarships and expanding healthcare and research at UK. Real estate given to the Foundation can be sold, and the sales proceeds used to benefit the college, department, or program the donor wants to support at UK. Giving an appreciated asset such as this can create significant tax advantages in addition to transitioning a property that often requires maintenance and management into an endowment that will provide generations of impact. This process was particularly interesting to Don. “We had this property that we hadn’t developed. I asked Penney, ‘how about the possibility of giving it to the university?’ and she agreed.”
The Rogers’ leveraged their undeveloped property into a sustainable gift supporting scholarships in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Gatton College of Business and Economics. The gift exemplifies the Rogers’ commitment to helping people obtain a quality education.
“Your opportunities are frequently based upon the education that you’ve received and both of us feel grateful that we got that from the University of Kentucky. We wanted to give that same opportunity to others.”
“The Rogers’ gift helps expand access to education at the University of Kentucky to talented students.” said Gatton College of Business Dean Simon Sheather, "Don and Penney's decision to invest in the University of Kentucky will have an invaluable impact on the lives of the scholarship recipients.”
“Don and Penney’s philanthropy will leave a legacy and provide opportunities for students at the University of Kentucky for generations. We thank Don and Penney for their generosity," said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Christian Brady.
The Rogers’ story began at the University of Kentucky, and the Rogers’ gift marks the beginning in the stories of countless other UK students.
The university is grateful to Don and Penney Rogers for their foresight and generosity. If you would like to create your own legacy at UK for future Wildcats, contact Gift and Estate Planning at (859) 257-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.