The law school will receive a lump-sum cash payment in 2020. The entire gift will go to the law school’s scholarship endowment fund.
“I’m paying back a debt,” says Rogers. “I came to SMU Law School unannounced, and without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have made it. This gift is to help other people in need do what I was able to do.”
Tog Rogers was born in Tyler. His father was an independent oilman, and their family moved several times when Tog was a boy. He attended the fourth grade in a one-room schoolhouse in Western Kentucky. But along the way, he became enamored with the law. He says he has so many memories about his time at SMU.
“In 1961, a group of us were meeting at the Lawyers Inn and we met Bobby Kennedy,” he says. “We asked him if he would ever lie to a judge. He said, ‘Of course I would, if it would help my mother.’ We thought that was great.”
Rogers clerked for Texas Supreme Court Justices Clyde Smith and Joe Greenhill. Rogers then spent several years as a lawyer at the law firm that is now known as Gardere.
“I was the 13th lawyer at the firm,” he says. “I always thought I was pretty damn smart, but the lawyers I worked with there were very smart.”
Rogers was in the firm’s litigation practice, and he represented a handful of major celebrities. For example, he represented Mickey Mantle in a bankruptcy-related case in which a New Jersey bowling alley went belly up. Mantle was a part owner. For some reason, the bowling alley’s lawyers put Mantle’s naming rights in the deal, which the bankruptcy trustee saw as having great value.
“Mickey got me great seats to the game and I got to visit the dugout,” Rogers recalls. “Those were great experiences.”
In 1967, Rogers moved to Houston to become general counsel at Ridgway Blueprinting, a small, publicly traded company.
“Ridgway didn’t trust me or anyone, and working for him was nearly impossible,” he says. “The company was horribly managed. I told him during a meeting in New York one evening that I was quitting. The next morning, he made me president of the company.”
A few years later, Rogers took Ridgway private and purchased the entire company. He sold it to ARC in 2000.
His education and training in law, Rogers says, helped him every step of the way as a business leader.
“Law school helps make you comfortable doing business and not having to worry that you are doing or saying the wrong thing,” he says.