Eugene L. Rodgers Sr., 86, of Philadelphia, a eucharistic minister and produce industry worker, died Wednesday, Nov. 23, of pneumonia at Methodist Hospital.
Born in Philadelphia, he was the son of Louis Nathaniel Rodgers and Edna Lockman. His mother died when he was 6 months old, so his grandmother Anna Lockman stepped in to rear him.
Known as "Junie," Mr. Rodgers attended New Central Baptist Church in Philadelphia with his grandmother, but at age 14 he converted to Catholicism.
He joined St. Charles Borromeo Church in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of Center City, and remained a member throughout his life.
Mr. Rodgers graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in 1949. Afterward, he attended Edward W. Bok Vocational High School to learn carpentry.
In 1951, he married Julia Askew, with whom he had eight children. All grew up as part of the St. Charles Borromeo Church community.
A loving husband and father, Mr. Rodgers also was committed to volunteer work in the community. From 1963 to 1994, he was Boy Scout master of Troop 433, a group based at the church.
"He served as a mentor, father figure, and example for many young men in the community who were scouts" but may not have had a father at home, his family said.
An active church worker, Mr. Rodgers was a lector for 55 years, and served as a eucharistic minister, or one who assists the priest in administering Holy Communion.
He also sold tickets for the weekly 50/50 raffle, delivered food to shut-ins, and was a member of the church's Over Fifty Club.
In addition, he served as a 19-year member of the Knights of St. Peter Claver's Council 346. The weekend before he died, Mr. Rodgers was given the Body of Christ Award, an honor bestowed on a Catholic who embodies what it means to be a follower of Christ, his family said.
For 40 years ending in 1993, Mr. Rodgers was a handler and packer in the produce industry and a proud member of Teamsters Local 929. He got up at 3 a.m. each day to get to work on time.
After he retired, Mr. Rodgers missed working, so he took a job in security. He worked until 2014, when he retired reluctantly for good, at age 84.
"We made him; it was too much," said granddaughter Jasmine A. Miller.
Besides his wife and granddaughter, he is survived by children Eugene Jr., Diane Alexander, Louis, Monique Thompson, Felice, Angelique Miller-Sabree, Veronica Pickens, and Julia Dicupe; 14 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; a sister; and nieces and nephews. Others whom he regarded as children were Jackie Reid, nephew Rudy Askew, and Charles Majors, whom he closely mentored.
A viewing starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, will be followed by a 10:30 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 902 S. 20th St. Burial is in Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Chester.