From Performance Art to Physics: An Exquisite Life
Polly Childs Rogers was an army brat - a single truth that shaped the rest of her life. Born to George W. Childs, a West Point graduate and a colonel in the U.S. Army, and Mildred Wright Childs in 1938 in Washington, D.C., Polly’s family grew to add two sisters, Mary Sue and Ellin, while they were living in Virginia when Polly was 8 and 10 years old respectively. She and the family subsequently lived in the Philippines, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Georgia, Alabama, Germany, and Colorado. The last four were where she went to high school - one location each year, without seemingly suffering a sense of relocation angst. She became a master of adaptability and instead of whining about the annual upheaval, she became a cheerleader, a skill in demand in any high school.
Her high school years were equally significant to personal interests. When she indicated to her high school counselor that she wanted to take physics, the high school counselor told her that girls took home ec, not high-level science classes. Polly hated home ec and got her first “C”. That “C” ended up costing her the title of Class Valedictorian. She would pursue physics later in life on her terms.
She graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and then planned to move to New York City to pursue an acting career. But before her trip east, she came back to Colorado where the Junior Chamber of Commerce sponsored her becoming Miss Aurora, which led to her entering the Miss Colorado pageant. Her talent portion was a dramatic reading of Thornton Wilder's play, "Our Town". From there she went to the Miss America pageant in 1956 in Atlantic City, accompanied by her mother, losing to Miss South Carolina.
New York City proved to be what she’d hoped: steady work on the soap opera “The Secret Storm.” She landed the role of Kate Lodge, the town’s “rascally” girl, in 1961. By the end of 1962, after she’d fallen in "love at first sight" with Stuart Rogers on their first date at Coney Island, she left the show to focus on her new marriage. No boring exit for her character. Kate Lodge was murdered, a dramatic end to a dramatic role. Living in Rochester, where Stuart was the Director of Field Communications for International Advertising with Kodak, Polly kept busy by modeling and doing commercials. In 1966, their daughter Alexandra was born. She stayed at home for many years, participating in her daughter's life as a busy mom including volunteer activities such as brownie leader. She then returned to college at SUNY to received her Masters Degree in Communications.
The family lived in Rochester, New York for almost 20 years before they returned to Colorado. At that time, she happily reunited with her parents and both sisters who lived there too. Not surprisingly, there was no down time for Polly. She started writing professionally for Coors, Travel Host and a number of other publications. In 1985 she launched into a full-time job teaching at Arapahoe Community College in the Communications Department, where she was beloved by her colleagues and students. She and Stuart bought a second home in Florida so they could enjoy and cherish time with their two grandchildren, Domonique and Cody. They travelled back and forth for many years in addition to all of their other exciting travel adventures.
As a world traveller from her youth, her passion for travel continued throughout her entire life. Polly and Stuart explored more than 50 international destinations, including the Great Wall of China, Patagonia, Bali, Morocco and a trip around Cape Horn. Polly made herself at home wherever she was and loved getting to know the “locals.” But not all travels were to exotic locales. One of her favorite trips was with Road Scholar to Washington, D.C., to learn the inner secrets of espionage at the CIA.
In 2013, Polly was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Because the tumor was near her heart, surgery was not an option; she was given a year to live. What the doctor didn’t know is that no one told Polly what she could and couldn’t do. Determined to fight it, she entered a clinical trial at CU Cancer Center with her amazing physician Dr. Ross Camidge, as well as two separate therapies at Kaiser with her incredible oncologist Dr. Scott Kono, that held the cancer at bay for 6 ½ years. During that time, she became a voracious reader and her favorite topic was physics, the topic she’d been denied so many years earlier. Shortly before she died, she was reading “Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects.” And she understood every word she read, proving her high school counselor wrong about girls and science.
She died peacefully, with her loved ones at her bedside, every bit the exquisite woman she always was. But those who knew her well knew that behind that ladylike exterior lay a warrior who called her cancer a profane name, who wouldn’t stop travelling until she’d seen the world, who read everything about everything (to include physics), who treasured her successful acting career, who taught adoring students, who loved and was beloved as a wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and friend. Having fulfilled all that, she could finally adapt to her last challenge—accepting death with grace and dignity.
She is survived by her devoted family: husband Stuart Rogers; daughter Alex Stockon; son-in-law to be Kenny Fountain; grandchildren Domonique and Cody Stockon; sisters Mary Childs Leeper and Ellin Childs Hayes; brothers-in-law Andy Andersen and Gordon Hayes.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in her name to the program that gave her three and a half additional years of life. This fund benefits the work of her physician, Dr. Camidge and his staff, in their efforts to fight lung cancer. It will also benefit others who are fighting the same battle as Polly did. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Please copy or click the following link: http://www.ucdenver.edu/lccf