Photo - Dave Burnham
Photo – Dave Burnham

Dave Burnham, Connecticut Cruise News, March/April, 2012

The 2012 Connecticut car show/cruise season will be missing a very familiar and popular face after the sad passing of Stan Rogers on January 21st. Wheelchair-bound Stan and his wife, Terry, were regular cruise night and car show visitors and were honorary members of the Connecticut Street Legends Car Club.

He married Terry, his high-school sweetheart, on July 4, 1964. They shared a love of classic cars, and spent most of their time at classic car shows, and working on classic cars, motorcycles and boats.

Shortly after Stan’s passing, I met up with Street Legends’ Bob Serra, and met Stan and Terry’s sons, Stan Jr. and Matt and grandson, Jacob, to talk about Stan’s life and love of all things automotive.

Bob started by telling us how he got to know Stan and Terry. “In 2002 we decided to have a best-of-the-best evening to close our cruise night season. We invited all the previous trophy winners to go head-to-head and we would pick the Best Of The Best.

“During these cruise nights, and other events we attended, we’d always see a woman pushing a man in a wheelchair, and they had a dog with them,” said Bob. “We started talking to Stan and Terry Rogers and we all became friends. They came to every show, and became our biggest supporters. They were fun people, so we gave them the Best Of The Best fan award. This was the first and only time we have presented such an award.

“When we were setting up the 2011 Street Legends Cruising Newington show, Terry stopped by and let me know that she and Stan had been in a car accident and Stan had a broken neck and shoulder,” Bob continued. “After the show, the Legends members went for a bite to eat. I told the other members what had happened, and immediately people said we should do a benefit show. We took a vote, which was 100% in favor. We put the show together pretty quick.

“When they found out about the show, all the local car clubs handed out 1,000 color flyers that had been produced by Robbie Heim and the guys from the Connecticut GTO Club. The Over The Hill Gang Eastern Chapter gave us a check as a donation. Everyone wanted to help us with the show or give donations. It was through the show that we got to meet Stan and Terry’s sons Stan and Matt and grandson, Jacob. The show raised more than $3,500, which shows the love that the car clubs have for Stan and Terry.”

“I didn’t know such good quality people still existed in this world,” Matt said.

“Stan had an electric wheelchair that he didn’t like to use,” Bob continued. “He thought it made him looked handicapped. And besides, he liked Terry to push him around. Stan was a big man, but a gentle giant. He had some problems with his body, but he was sharp as a tack. I never heard him complain even once. He never felt sorry for himself.”

“When Dad was in high school they had a car club”, the Stan Jr. said. “His car, at the time, was a ’58 Impala convertible that he had for many years. When Mom and Dad got married, the Impala was at the church with soda cans tied to the back bumper.

“He was a backyard mechanic throughout his life, working on various automobiles that included a ’50 Chevy and a ’67 Impala along with numerous Harley and Triumph motorcycles. I’d come home from school and Dad had cars lifted up on 1½-ton jacks with no other support and he would be working away underneath it. He used to scare me so much!

“There was several times when I would walk into the kitchen and see a transmission in pieces. Dad would be pulling an old gear out and putting a new one in right there on the kitchen table,” according to the younger Stan.

“I’d sleep over at my grandparents and help my grandmother,” Jacob said. “I’d hang out with them and go to the car shows. My grandfather would know everything about every single car there.”

“Dad liked to be right by the driveway at the Mark’s Classic Car Shows,” Stan said. “He would sit there in his wheelchair. He liked to see the cars come in and go out. He’d hate to leave. Mom and Jacob took turns pushing him around to see the cars.”

“Dad came home from the hospital and was doing okay and then he started to slip a little. He was down in the dumps,” Matt and Stan said. Bob and five of the Street Legends went to visit him. “He was sitting in a chair and looked up and gave us a huge big smile. We talked for about a half an hour. Terry called the next day and said Stan was trying to stand up. He told her he had to get better so he could go and see his friends at the car shows. The car shows really lifted his spirits.”

Bob finished our conversation with this story “Shortly after the accident, Terry bought Stan to the cruise night at the No Name Tortilla Grill in Berlin. He was too weak to get out of the car. They parked so that he could see everything that was going on. As soon as everybody found out that Stan was in that car, nobody was looking at the cars. They were all going to say hello to him. That said a lot about Stan.

Stan’s family has said that the Street Legends touched their lives. Stan has touched our lives, and so many other people’s lives in such a positive way. He will be missed so much by everyone who knew him.”