William Rogers, Jr. was born under the Big Top on June 27, 1938, to William and Mary Rogers. The boy's parents were show people with a traveling carnival, and they differed in their memories as to the state where little Bill was born. In any case, it was probably one of the square ones.
William Sr. performed magic and picked pockets. Mary kept the rubes distracted. Together, they spent 37 years on the road, seeing the country and raising their son, until they settled in the Florida panhandle.
William and Mary were more than happy to shake off the dust from the road, but Bill had become addicted to seeing what was over the horizon. The young teenager ran away two or three times a year, one time not returning for more than a month.
It was during one of those jaunts, when Bill was working for a large farming concern, that he watched a crop duster with fresh eyes. Seeing that airplane range over the skies, he realized that he belonged in the air.
Bill faced life with a new resolve. Instead of spending his time looking out the window, he focused on schoolwork, learning everything possible about flight and what made it possible. After high school graduation, he joined the Air Force, and then left after four years to fly for Pan Am.
While a pilot, Bill met Jessica Baxter, who worked as a flight attendant. The two dated and then married the following year. They had one child, Mary-Ann, and Jessica stayed home to raise the girl. Bill's wanderlust caused friction in the marriage, however, and the couple divorced after seven years.
Bill retired from flying just before Pam Am dissolved in 1991, and he settled in Oxford, Mississippi where he could be close to Mary-Ann, who taught at Ole Miss.
When life on his own became increasingly difficult, Bill didn't want to impose on his daughter and decided to move into Yoknapatawpha Acres.Subscribe to read more...