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Rogers retiring after 16 years as dispatcher

WORTHINGTON -- After 16 years serving Nobles County as a dispatcher, Larry Rogers is retiring Friday, leaving behind the job but not the memories. Excitement and anxiousness are the words Rogers, 67, uses to describe his feelings about his retire...

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WORTHINGTON - After 16 years serving Nobles County as a dispatcher, Larry Rogers is retiring Friday, leaving behind the job but not the memories.

 

Excitement and anxiousness are the words Rogers, 67, uses to describe his feelings about his retirement. He will step out of the Nobles County dispatchers’ office for the last time at 4 a.m. Friday.

 

“I don’t know if there is a proper age for retirement, but it’s time for me,” Rogers said.

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He said he’s excited about the fact his retirement means he will be able to attend his grandchildren's school events and spend more time with his wife, Mary. His plans range from fishing trips to vacations and side gigs.

 

“My retirement is going to have a very heavy load of family time,” he said.

 

A former radio host, Rogers left the radio scene after 20 years when the locally owned station he was working for was sold to a bigger company. He said he knew it was time for a change, but he wasn’t sure what exactly that meant.

 

“I had a very bad day at work dealing with the corporate ownership,” Rogers recalled. “I went home that night and we were having supper … and my daughter got up and brought the Daily Globe to the supper table. She was flipping it and then she handed it to me and showed me an ad, ‘Help wanted: dispatcher.’ It was a little more than coincidence.”

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Rogers said he didn’t hesitate in applying for the job, with its higher pay and better work schedule. Since becoming a dispatcher, he has served Worthington and the surrounding area in assisting residents with emergency and non-emergency 911 calls.    

 

Throughout the years, Rogers said he has experienced situations that have warmed his heart and others that caused him to tremble.

 

He recalled a time when a woman he knew called 911 and said she had woken up to find her husband had passed away. Rogers said he stayed with her on the phone, comforting her and talking about her husband until a deputy arrived at the home.    

 

“I happened to see her sometime later … and she knew who I was. She came up and wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug,” Rogers said. “She didn't say a thing … I knew what she meant and I knew why she did it … then I went into my truck and the tears were just right on the edge ready.”

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Rogers added that moments like that make the stress of the job worth it.

 

He noted that calls involving children are the most difficult situations he has to deal with, especially because he has grandchildren.

 

“The stuff that hurts, scares and affects kids, those are the ones I struggled with the most,” Rogers said. “Officers ... they go through dozens of hours of training and are taught how to deal with those situations. A fair amount of my education has come from being a husband, a father and a grandfather.”

 

The lack of formal training made Rogers come up with his own coping mechanisms to deal with the stress of the job. He explained that it’s sometimes difficult to not bring the work home, but when he does, his family is always there to help him clear his mind.

 

“I leave work after eight hours, I close the door behind me … and it’s seldom that I bring my work with me,” Rogers said. “Maybe that’s because I have such a good life surrounding me .... it protects me from a lot of things.”

 

He said his wife has been a key part of his success as a dispatcher.

 

“If you could label a person as an item, Mary is the best thing that has happened to me in my career,” Rogers said. “She always keeps me centered, she is always understanding of my moods and she is just my best friend.”

 

Rogers also said he would text his older daughter whenever he received a call involving children or a family.

 

“I will simple text her ‘give my grandchildren a hug,’” Rogers said. “She never asks why or the surrounding details on it. I always get back a one-word response by text: ‘Done’  If I can’t hug my grandkids, somebody else can.”

 

Rogers also said the student tours at Prairie Justice Center were one of the best parts of the job.

 

“I absolutely love first-graders and kindergarteners,” Rogers said. “I love to talk about 911 with the kids. I know there are some kids who don’t know how to use a phone, but they know how to call 911.”

 

Rogers said his career has taught him a number of things such as patience, multi-tasking and respect for law enforcement. However, he said compassion is the most important piece he is going to take with him.  

 

“A person who is not compassionate would not last a week as a dispatcher,” Rogers said.

 

He noted that he is going to miss his co-workers, who have been there every time he needed somebody to cover his shift so he can make it to his grandchildren's events or any family emergency.

 

“I hesitate to say we are a family out there in dispatch, but we are close to being one,” Rogers said. “I probably know more about the families of my five partners than I know about most families in town.”

 

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