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Updated on September 13, 2013

My Friend Roger

A SPECIAL NOTE: Roger Percy passed away yesterday on September 12, 2013 during his afternoon nap at the Oak River Rehab in Anderson, California.

Roger Percy is a friend and I consider him to be a hero, although he is too humble to accept that label. I first met Roger when I started attending The Lake California Community Church about seven years ago. He was in a wheelchair and his daughter Sue wheeled him in on Sunday mornings. He also attended the Men's evening bible study on alternate Thursday evenings. He has a smile that illuminates a room and is wonderful to talk to. This lens is a tribute to Roger.

UPDATE (12/06/2012) Roger will be celebrating his 99th Birthday on 12/15/2012 and I will definitely be there. :)

An Unsung Hero

by John N. Stewart

Today, Roger Percy is in his early 90's. His home is a place called "Oak River Rehab" in the little town of Anderson, CA. I just turned 70, so he considers me to be a kid. I get to see him every other week since I play the piano for Roger and his friends in the dining hall of Oak River. His favorite song is "Tangerine". The first few times that I saw Roger at Oak River he kept saying that he just wanted out of there and to be at home, but eventually he seemed to acclimate to his surroundings. I like to hang around after the music and talk to the "inmates" as one of them calls the residents. One day I sat with Roger and he told me a story about one of his World War II experiences. He was in the Navy and served on a US Naval ship that was sailing in the Atlantic Ocean, probably near European waters. They ran into a German destroyer and as Roger described it "they simultaneously sunk each other". Must have been quite a battle. He managed to get into a life boat with several of his crew members and they proceeded to float in unknown waters for about 30 days.Needless to say Roger prayed continuously during this ordeal. One by one they lost their precious crew members and friends due to the lack of food and water. By the time that they saw land there were only three left in the lifeboat. They washed up on a beach that turned out to be located on the coast of Brazil. I am certain that Roger's prayers were answered by the fact that one of the remaining survivors spoke fluent Portuguese, so when they were found, communication was easy and they were taken to a safe place. An incredible story. A few months ago I took a photograph of Roger with his new girlfriend Melissa. He was beaming. I painted a small portrait of him that I was able to give to his daughter Sue, who is one of my wife, Valerie's hair clients. You can see a larger version of the painting on Fine Art America by Clicking Here.

The Actual Portrait

Click on the portrait to see it on Fine Art America......

WWII Life Boat


Naval Heroes

Amazon books about American Naval heroes.

Where Roger Lives Today - 1 - Oak River Rehab in Northern California

You can see Roger in the center of the photo with his head tilted down. He sometimes would come to life when I played one of his favorite hymns or a popular tune from 1941 called "Tangerine". One time he was dancing with his blanket.

Where Roger Lives Today - 2 - Oak River Rehab......

The fellow in the foreground with the plaid shirt is named "Ross". He was a big-band singer back in the 30's and 40's and he still has an incredible voice. When he sings The Lord's Prayer we have to pass the hankies. The lady behind him that has the spoon near her mouth is a pianist. She used to play for silent movies, and occasionally we can coax her up to play a tune or two. The lady to her far right's husband was and still is a horn player in a band in the Redding area.

Johnny And His Angels

Our musical group is called "Johnny and His Angels". I'm Johnny, on piano, and these are three of my angels that come to sing old standards for the residents here at Oak River. From front to back we have Faye, Lee, and Dorothy. We have 3 more angels that are alternates. Faye passes out song books to those that want them. One 96 year old lady resident (Roger's girlfriend) seems to know all of the lyrics to all of the songs we do. Amazing!

Roger's Guestbook

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    • jnstewart profile image

      John Norman Stewart 4 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      @AlleyCatLane: Thanks for your nice comments....appreciate it! :)

    • jnstewart profile image

      John Norman Stewart 4 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      @anonymous: Appreciate your looking at the lens. :)

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      A beautiful tribute to your friend. You are an angel yourself for the wonderful work you do with the elderly.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a very nice tribute to a friend. Especially a Vet. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.