WILMONT — Those who knew Landon Rogers will never forget his fun-loving nature, infectious laugh and remarkable ability to draw in those around him.
"I knew he was loved and liked by so many people because he was such a kind soul," Landon's mother, Tami, said of her son, who died Saturday in a one-vehicle crash south of Rushmore. He was 20.
Since then, Tami said she has seen firsthand just how many people were impacted by her son's life.
"How many lives he touched is unbelievable," agreed Lance Rogers, Landon's father.
Tami added that Rogers was good-natured his whole life.
"When he was born," she remembered, "I called him my precious moment baby because he just had this sweet look to him."
"He could make a friend out of anybody," remembered boss and best friend Mitchell Cox. He said it was easy for Rogers to connect with people, and he never forgot a name.
A number of Rogers's friends and family remarked on his unique smile.
"Mischievous smile," his mother called it. "Devious grin," his father said. "Competitive smile," said coach Joe Kruger. Each had their own take on the young man's natural expression.
Rogers was also known for his polite manners. Always careful to say "please" and "thank you," he impressed people from every demographic with his courteous attitude.
“He’d always make the best out of the worst,” said close friend Logan Nelson. The two knew each other since elementary school.
Cox also said that he and Rogers didn't just work together; Rogers would often come to the Cox home and play with the couple's three children.
"He was so good with our kids," Cox said. "He was definitely excited to be a dad someday.
"He was absolutely a part of our family. He meant the world to me," Cox added.
Rogers's personality was what first attracted his girlfriend of more than two years, Madi Neuenberg. She reported that his sense of humor, maturity and industry had showed her since grade school that she and Rogers were a good match. The two had planned to get married and have children.
"He was the best listener ever," Neuenberg said. "He would remember things I forgot I even told him."
With younger sister Shawna, Rogers liked to drive around and sing along to music. They listened to “everything from Katy Perry to classic rock," Shawna said, adding that "he could hit those high notes.”
Since he was about 13, Rogers and his older brother, Logan, worked Angus cattle together on their own operation three miles west of Wilmont.
“It was a lot of fun. He was easy to get along with,” Logan said of working with his brother.
"If there was a dirty job, he was right there to do it," Lance said, with Tami agreeing that Landon commonly did the worst jobs on the farm.
Rogers never complained about any task, Cox added.
Jeff Tweet, an employer, remarked on Rogers's even-tempered, level-headed demeanor — a quality that made him an excellent cattleman, Tweet noted.
“If I had a son, he’d be just like him,” Tweet said. Not only did Rogers know a lot about cattle, but he was humble and teachable.
“I just thought the world of Landon," Tweet added. "I never told him this, but in my mind, when I was done farming, he could take over the operation.”
The young man's work ethic wasn't limited to the farm, as Rogers also excelled as an athlete.
Former coach Kevin Nowotny remembered a time when the Adrian baseball team was playing in a losers' bracket game against a rival. Rogers was asked to pitch, and he was not discouraged by the circumstance or the opponent.
“He pitched a masterpiece," Nowotny said. "That game catapulted us to state.”
In 10th grade, Nowotny remembered, Rogers suffered an injury that prevented him from rotating his left wrist. As a third baseman, however, Rogers needed to field ground balls, which is difficult without rotating the wrist.
“He never used it as an excuse. That’s the type of kid he was,” Nowotny recalled.
Coach Joe Kruger agreed that Rogers was the kind of athlete who "played through pain."
He shared a memory of Rogers, who needed corrective lenses, not wearing his glasses when he pitched as a sophomore. As a result, he couldn't see the catcher's signs.
After that, Kruger said, Rogers always wore "goofy transitional sunglasses" that became part of his brand as a player.
Coach Randy Schettler described Rogers as “a hard working kid with a great personality.” A longtime neighbor and family friend, Schettler knew Rogers well both on and off the field.
“He’d do anything for you," Schettler said. "If you needed something done, you’d call Landon.”
High school friend and teammate Mitchell Wager said of Rogers, “He was always there for everyone.” Nowotny added that when Rogers had something to say in a baseball dugout or football huddle, his teammates listened to him.
"He was a great kid who was turning into a great man," his father concluded.
“Landon didn’t need a lot to be happy," said Alan Cox, Mitchell Cox's father. "He was a joy to be around."
"I'm so proud to be his mom," Tami added.
Although Rogers's loss is palpable, his parents said they have already found some comfort in what they know to be true about their son.
"He's just that special," Tami said. "God needed him more than we did."
Lance noted that his son built a significant social circle that is wrapping its arms around the family.
"How great it is to have the community around us," he said.
Brother Logan said although grief can make the world seem to stop, his brother would want everything to just keep on going.
Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. today at Adrian High School, and also one hour prior to the service at the high school on Thursday. The funeral will take place at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Adrian High School.