Garfield Devoe (G.D.) Rogers (1885-1951)
Prepared by the Historical Monument Trail Selection Committee, Friends of the Tampa Riverwalk. For further information, contact Fred Hearns
In 1905, with no money, G. D. Rogers began his trek from Georgia to central Florida, walking along railroad tracks and, it is said, selling railroad ties to buy food. In Bradenton, he worked as a tailor and dry cleaner and later secured licenses in real estate and mortuary science. He and his wife opened Rogers Funeral Home, which buried not only blacks, but paupers of any race.
In 1922, Rogers helped create Tampa’s Central Industrial (Life) Company, an agency that sold policies to blacks. He also opened Rogers Hotel and Rogers Dining Room on Central Avenue, both of which became important meeting places within Tampa's black community. Rogers invested in a beach resort for blacks, established the Negro Business League and worked to register black voters.
Rogers was also a philanthropist. Perhaps his most noteworthy gift was of land for a Tampa park to be used by blacks. Today that park, which bears his name, is the historical Rogers Park Golf Course.