It was an emotional day for Grand River Area YMCA Executive Director Dave Rogers and it became evident near the end of his comments to those attending the program in Browning Gymnasium at the Chillicothe Y Saturday evening.

It was an emotional day for Grand River Area YMCA Executive Director Dave Rogers and it became evident near the end of his comments to those attending the program in Browning Gymnasium at the Chillicothe Y Saturday evening.
Rogers was one of five speakers at the Saturday program and he took the opportunity to thank his staff; his board; and the people for a great 23½ years at the Chillicothe YMCA. Rogers followed Matt Jones, who becomes the new executive director this week along with original board member Ed Douglas; former long-time volunteer and board member Lucy Murphy, and Mayor Chuck Haney to the speaking area at center court of the Browning gymnasium.
Mrs. Murphy made the surprise trip here for the event from her home in Iowa City, Iowa thanks to Stephanie, 29, and Chris, 25, Rogers, children of Dave and Marty and graduates of Chillicothe High School. Stephanie and Chris now reside in Minnesota and went to Iowa City to get Mrs. Murphy and bring her to Chillicothe for the weekend and returned her to Iowa City.
Rogers spoke of what the people and his board meant to him when he first came to Chillicothe. He also took time to thank all of those who had been so good to him, his wife Marty and children from the moment they arrived here as a family.
He went back to the beginning and his first weekend in Chillicothe after being hired as the Grand River Area YMCA’s first and only director until his recent retirement and the announcement of current Program Director Matt Jones as his replacement.
There was no Y building and only a small office on Washington Street when it all started back in the early 1990s when the fund-raising campaign began. He echoed what a couple of the other speakers said when the YMCA national office told them that Chillicothe was too small for a YMCA and they would probably never raise the money.
Rogers backed off of the fact that he had a lot to do with the YMCA from the very beginning and said he wanted to give the credit of the Y’s success to the people, the board of directors and the hard-working and dedicated employees.
He concluded his remarks with a story about a conversation last week with a young lady who is a senior member of the 2014 Chillicothe High School graduating class. He had to be pretty tight with the senior he later identified and pointed to as she sat about five rows up in the middle of the bleachers.
Rogers told of the time that Maggie Graves had spent in the gym shooting buckets recently and her love for the place and asked how she was preparing for graduation this coming week and her eventual enrollment at North Central Missouri College in Trenton where she has been accepted as a student athlete with a basketball scholarship.
Rogers had a tough time getting through his final remarks. He finally said, “I asked Maggie what she felt and how she was going to get through it all and she looked at me and said ‘It’s just time.’ Maggie was correct; it’s time and I am ready to retire.”
With that said those original and past board members, friends, Y members, staff and members of the current board stood and gave Dave Rogers a standing ovation.
Rogers concludes his 23½ years as the YMCA’s head man and 40 years of employment by the YMCA. “I am 61 and the time is right.”
Matt Jones, who has spent six years as the YMCA’s program director officially takes over at mid-week (May 14, 2014) as the executive director of the Y.
Jones opened the program and welcomed everyone on behalf of the YMCA staff. He thanked Dave Rogers for time spent under his wing as the program director and that he had some big shoes to fill.
Jones turned toward Rogers who was seated behind him and had several comments about Rogers and the Y.
“We won’t mention the times that someone tries to sneak in the YMCA without paying and somehow you see them and how you sense whether or not the middle school kids have checked in. It could be that you’ve been here since this place was dirt, literally.”
Continuing, he said that it could be the fact that you (Rogers) get three weeks paid vacation and you only take one, or it could be the fact that you work undoubtedly long hours in one day or it could be that you always have a joke for the youth when they come in the door.
Jones said, “There is something to be said about your unwavering respect and dedication to the YMCA movement and the fine people of Livingston County and the other six counties we serve. In saying ‘Thank You” and “Well Done,” Jones finished his comments with these words:
“One of the most profound things I’ve ever heard you say is that we are in the business of building fences, to protect those and to educate those youth of today and adults of tomorrow, so that we can watch them build bridges to their future.”
Lucy Murphy, who moved from Chillicothe with her husband Paul to Iowa City three years ago, was a volunteer at the Y for 15 years working with Betty Colton in the water aerobics and then later working with the “Silver Sneakers” program for senior citizens.
 Mrs. Murphy was also one of the original board members. She pointed out the many good things the Y brought to the community and how much it meant to the senior citizens and to health programs and what Dave Rogers had meant to the Y.
Ed Douglas, also an original Y board member and a part of the fund raising team, traced the time back when there was talk about building a YMCA and the work that went into the project and then to the additions built since the original construction. He also spoke of the Y teamwork and the ‘Can Do’ attitude of the Chillicothe people and just how important Dave Rogers was in building and maintaining one of the best YMCAs in the state as well as helping start other YMCAs.
Mayor Chuck Haney said he could tell multiple stories of how the Y began and what happened the first night they opened the YMCA. He related the day that Dave Rogers came to town, but some of his story was a little different than the one told by Rogers.
Mayor Haney said Rogers was the YMCA and his leadership was so important.
“I can’t think of anytime that I have ever heard a Y board member or staff member say anything negative about Dave Rogers, the Y or its staff,” Haney said. “He and his family are a part of Chillicothe and he and his wife are going to remain a part of our great city and that is so special.”
He agreed with Douglas in that you don’t tell Chillicothe we can’t do it or it won’t work because the Y and its two expansions and its 6,000 members in three locations are pure proof that Chillicothe and its people make things happen.
Mayor Haney then called Rogers to center court and read and presented him with a City Proclamation that proclaimed Saturday, May 10, 2014, as ‘Dave Rogers Day” in Chillicothe.
A reception for Rogers was held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. prior to the 6 o’clock program.