RISING SUN — Town officials and the business community gathered Wednesday morning to remember a longtime business owner whose sudden death Nov. 1 has left many shaken.

Thomas “Tom” Rogers, 53, was the owner of Sunshine Automotive on East Cherry Street, but those who gathered outside his service bay spoke of a man with a kind and generous heart who loved the town and all its people.

“This is a significant loss to our community,” Rising Sun Mayor Travis Marion said at the start of the street side ceremony. Rogers was a fixture in the town for almost 30 years.

Calvin Bonenberger, town administrator, called Rogers a man of character, often helping and being a friend to all who crossed his path, including town staff. For example, while plowing snow in town one of the public works trucks picked up a nail in the tire that threatened to put the plow out of service. Rogers fixed the tire at no charge.

“He was always willing to help and you don’t replace that easily,” Bonenberger said. “He was an asset to this town.”

The town and the chamber wanted to honor Rogers by offering people the chance to surround the family with love and concern and to say a few words in his memory. While chamber functions usually center around ribbon cuttings and grand openings, all agreed this was also a town function.

“We wanted to come together and recognize the power of love and community and togetherness,” he said. “It’s important we don’t forget the other side when tragedy strikes.”

Others called Rogers a “simple man who lived a simple life.”

Mark Deckman asked if he could offer a prayer of thanks, asking God aloud the question felt by many, “Why did you take him away ... but also why did you give us such a gift? He touched so many,” Deckman prayed.

Bud McFadden, well known in Rising Sun as the former owner of the building that houses Sunshine Automotive, said the simple gathering Wednesday showed the impact Rogers had on Rising Sun by the number who attended. McFadden also mentioned that even in death, Rogers gave.

“He was an organ donor. Even after he’s gone he’s still helping people,” McFadden said.

Services for Rogers will be held later. He is survived by his wife Lorraine, son Thomas Rogers III and daughter Whitney.

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