Fans attending the Roy Rogers Festival in Portsmouth, Ohio last week remember Roy Rogers and Dale Evans for many things, including their many western films and great music. The iconic couple is also remembered for their love of children and devotion to family. As a little girl, my wife, Amy, met Roy at his California museum in the early 1980s when he posed for a picture with her and her sister! While I never had the pleasure to personally meet Roy or Dale, I have experienced the joy of meeting some of their children and their spouses. Several years ago in Branson, Missouri, Amy and I had a chance to meet Dusty Rogers and snap a photo of him posing with our own children. Last week, we had the pleasure to again meet and speak with Roy and Dale’s daughter, Dodie, who was a guest at the Festival along with her husband, Jon. We also had the opportunity to meet Roy and Dale’s granddaughter, Julie Fox Pomilia, and her husband. In my experiences, Roy and Dale would certainly be able to be proud of the way their children now represent their family legacy.
In some respects, the entire Festival had a bit of a “family reunion” atmosphere. The special guests from Little House on the Prairie (Alison Arngrim and Rachel Lindsay Greenbush) seemed like old friends, even though we were meeting them for the first time. Paul Petersen (from The Donna Reed Show) was a familiar face who took time to converse with anyone who wanted to chat. Familiar faces in the dealer room – both among vendors and attendees – added to the feeling of a family gathering. (I especially enjoyed watching a two-year-old boy who for two straight days would swing by to stare lovingly and longingly at the western toys on the dealer table adjacent to my table.) The evenings were filled with casual gatherings for music, food, and relaxed fellowship with fellow fans of Roy and Dale, further adding to the extended-family-gathering atmosphere.
If the only legacy left by Roy and Dale was that of the emphasis on family and family values, it would be worthy of celebration. Roy’s legacy includes many aspects of his remarkable career, and his place in Portsmouth history is noted in various ways in Portsmouth. We are fortunate to have so very much of Roy and Dale’s work preserved in recorded music, films, and books, as well as countless merchandise items. But on a personal level, there is also that part of Roy’s legacy that lives in the hearts and minds of those attending each year, and the stories from those who met or knew him.
A legacy worth celebrating, stories worth remembering.