Clarence Wilbert Rodgers, Jr., formerly of Conway, AR; currently of Strong, AR; transitioned from this world on Thursday, June 25, 2020, to join the love of his life of thirty-three years— predeceased wife Ella Renee Stephens Rodgers.
Clarence was the first born and delight of his predeceased parents Clarence (Bud) Wilbert Rodgers and Claudia Faye Thigpen-Rodgers’ blended family. He brought his parents unmeasurable joy as they continued to grow their family. As a youth, Clarence was baptized at Saint James Baptist Church, confessed his belief in Christ, and demonstrated his knowledge of the Lord through his treatment of others.
As he matured from a boy to a man, Clarence worked for various companies to take care of his family: Comet Cleaners, ENSCO, Southwestern Bell, Kimberly Clark, Evergreen Packaging; and lastly, AGE Industries as a forklift driver until the company shut down in 2018. Clarence always desired to be an asset to the company for which he worked. As he interacted with people on his job and within his community, Clarence recognized early on that the measure of a man was not how he treated people when others were watching but was “how he treated people who meant him absolutely no good” (Samuel Johnson). He also understood that “the measure of a man was the way he bore his misfortune” (Peter Nivio Zarlenga). He never allowed life’s trials to render him helpless but used them to improve his understanding of people.
From his need to accept people without judgment, he became a masterful mender and desired always to restore friendships, to repair familial relationships, and to make whole that which had been damaged by nature and ravaged by time and unchecked egos. He reveled in cooking for his family, friends, and neighbors but also used food as a metaphor for his life: Without food, he knew the body would perish; and without friends and family, he knew the human connection would languish. He lived what he loved: fending for family, forming abiding friendships, and feeding the soul.
Clarence was a paradox: He was reserved and pensive but was quite loquacious around those who knew him well. He was modest but gregarious and always wanted to be “where everyone knew his name.” Although his formative education was cut short, he loved history and wanted to comprehend the workings of nature.
During his last year of life, Clarence prepared to make his journey to be with those whom he lost to illness. He wanted to see them again but helped us to take comfort in knowing that he would never be alone.
Clarence was preceded in death by his soulmate Ella Renee Stephens Rodgers: two sisters, Carolyn Rodgers and Carolyn McClelland; and three brothers, Quentin Bernard Rodgers, Keith Bishop Rodgers, and Victor Fernando Marsetti Rodgers.
His children, and those from his blended family, will continue his legacy of love: three sons, Stacey King Rodgers, Tony Cobb Rodgers, both of El Dorado, AR; and Steven Juwan Howard of Conway, AR; three daughters: Nedra King Walker (Eric) of El Dorado, AR; Latara Rodgers of Dallas, TX; and April Welch (Antonio) of Jacksonville, AR; thirteen grandchildren: Ardeja Alexander, Arvin Alexander, King Alexander, Tytiana Kesee, Zacharyah Walker, Alexis King, Urijah Wilson, Tony Wilson, and Treyvon Cobb, Kafka Moore, Jhordan Moore, Macon Perry, and Jussiah Howard; three great- grandchildren: Olivia Kesee, Braxton Robertson, and Casey Robertson.
Clarence is survived by four dutiful brothers: Alphonso Montgomery, Anthony Rodgers, Mario Rodgers, and Cori Rodgers of Strong, AR.
He also leaves five steadfast sisters: Sharon Thigpen-Gatson (Cleodis) of North Little Rock, AR; Alice Cato (James) of Antioch, CA; Sue Ann Jenkins (Jerome) of El Dorado, AR; Beverly Montgomery (Harold) of Pine Bluff, AR; and Tara Loggin McHenry (Tony) of Strong, AR; and his special friend, Brandy Jordan of Huttig, AR, who devotedly cared for him and who provided him solace each day as he endured pain. He also leaves a host of nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who will miss him immensely.
Grave Side Service Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. at Lott Burgy Cemetery under the direction of Sims Mortuary. Sign the guestbook at www.simsmortuary.com.
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