mary_grace_rogers_web.jpgA memorial service was held Saturday for noted educator, social worker and historic preservationist Mary Grace Harris Rogers in Daytona Beach.

Rogers suffered a heart attack on April 9 and was rushed to the hospital in Daytona Beach, where she died. She was 90.

She was well known in Daytona Beach, where she and her husband of 68 years, the Rev. Jefferson P. Rogers, played a key role in preserving the historic home and legacy of theologian Howard Thurman, a precursor and mentor of Martin Luther King Jr., and in organizing a Howard Thurman Lecture Series at Stetson University in nearby DeLand.

The couple organized a similar series at Florida Memorial University, with outreach to the larger community, during their tenure as faculty members at the Miami Gardens-based school.

She and her husband brought the late tennis great Arthur Ashe to the FMU campus as a trustee.

Born in Shreveport, La., to Sam Harris and Mary Hall Harris, Rogers earned a bachelor’s degree from Dillard University in New Orleans and a master’s degree in sociology from Yale University.

 She was dedicated to nurturing and educating young people and families and served as a counselor, social worker and educator.

When her husband founded the Church of the Redeemer (Presbyterian) in Washington, D.C., around 1957, after serving as minister of Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington, she immersed herself in the work of the Presbyterian Church, especially in social action projects sponsored by local and national Presbyterian women’s groups.

In addition, through the years she was a strong advocate of historic preservation efforts and collaborated with her husband and others to preserve not only the Thurman home in Daytona Beach but also  Boston’s Freedom Trail and the Frederick Douglass Home in Washington, D.C.

Besides her husband, Rogers is survived by children Anita Rogers Howard (Richard Andrews), Alain Rogers (Qaasim Abdul-Tawwab) and Weldon Rogers and several other relatives.

Photo: Mary Grace Rogers