UC Berkeley News


Michael Rogers

03 June 2005

Michael Courtney Rogers, a professor emeritus of East Asian studies who was honored by the Korean government for his contributions to the study of Korean culture, died May 4 at his home in Grass Valley following a long battle with the rare blood disease multiple myeloma.

"Rogers was a meticulous scholar and linguist," said Jeffrey Riegel, professor of Chinese, East Asian language and culture and chair of the Center for Chinese Studies. "He had mastered the literary forms of Chinese and Korean, and his translations — as well as his scholarly writings — are exemplars of elegance and clarity."

Rogers started college in San Diego, studying Latin and French. He transferred to Berkeley in 1942 and dedicated himself first to Mongolian studies, helping his department chair compile the world's first Mongolian-to-English dictionary. After wartime service, Rogers returned to Berkeley in 1946. Here he studied Chinese and Tibetan, and two years later received a Fulbright scholarship to study those languages in China and Tibet. He traveled extensively there, often on foot and alone. He also spent several months living with the monks in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet.

Returning to Berkeley in 1950, Rogers received his Ph.D. in Oriental languages in 1953. He joined the faculty that year as a professor of Oriental languages — teaching Chinese, Japanese, and Korean at various times — and eventually became chair of what is now East Asian Studies.

Rogers was honored by the South Korean government with the Bo-Gwan award in 1985 for his scholarly original research into Korean antiquity. After receiving the award, he and his wife set up the UC Study Abroad Program at Yonsei University in Seoul. Upon their return, they retired to Grass Valley, in the Sierra foothills.

A native of Santa Ana, Rogers is survived by sons Daniel Rogers of Oakland and Mathew Rogers of Modesto; daughters Suzie and Camilla Rogers of Grass Valley, Avian Rogers of Palm Springs, and Ame Wauters of Novato; and three brothers, Joseph Rogers of San Francisco, Jack Rogers of Glendale, and Chuck Rogers of Pasadena. Rogers' wife, Francea, died in 2001.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. next Monday, June 6, in Berkeley. Contact Daniel Rogers at drogers1221@comcast.net or 339-3056 for details.

Contributions may be made in Michael Rogers' name to the Hospice of the Foothills, 12399 Nevada City Highway, Grass Valley, CA 95945

— Kathleen Maclay