In honor of both Black History Month and National Engineers Week (Feb. 17 – 23), we offer this profile of Robert Lee Rogers. According to a Sept. 23, 1963 article in The Courier-Journal, Louisville Water hired Rogers as the company’s first African-American employee "in a professional status."
Horace S. Estey, company president at the time, said Rogers was "exceptionally well qualified" to be an engineering draftsman.
Rogers was a 1947 graduate of Kentucky State College and also had studied at the University of Louisville, Northeastern University in Boston, and Hampton Institute in Virginia. Before joining Louisville Water, he worked for six years at Peleske Engineering Company.
The Courier-Journal also noted that Rogers, who was 40 in 1963, was a World War II veteran and a member of the Fraternal Order of Masons. He and his wife had two sons and a daughter.
Roger’s hiring at Louisville Water also made national news: It was noted in the Oct. 10, 1963 edition of Jet magazine.
Jay Ferguson, Louisville Water Museum Specialist, did some research on Rogers and found that he was a native of Hopkinsville. His children’s names were Robert, Gregory and Joshlyn. He had two grandchildren when he passed away in 1979.
The photo of Rogers above was taken from The Courier-Journal from 1963.