Hundreds of students gathered on Oct. 20 on Huntsman Hall's Koo Plaza to commemorate the life of Wharton senior and Beta Theta Pi fraternity member Henry Rogers, who died on Oct. 9.
At the ceremony, which was held outdoors on the warm Friday afternoon, administrators, friends and family presented their stories of Rogers. College senior Melanie Bow also played the guitar and sang Lukas Graham’s “Funeral.”
Wharton senior and Beta Theta Pi member Trent Buenzli welcomed the guests, “We can celebrate a guy that deserves it,” he said. Rogers was a former captain of the heavyweight rowing team and part of Cohort Shekel in the Wharton School.
College senior and Rogers’ teammate Sabrina Stanich described Rogers' “total and complete athletic savagery." He achieved a personal record during a test on the rowing machine after sleeping just three hours the previous night, she said.
When Stanich asked Rogers to run a half-marathon with her, she said he declined because he doesn’t “half-ass” things. If they were going to run a race, he’d said, they would do the full 26.2 miles.
Buenzli also described his memories with Rogers, including a gathering in Rogers' Hill College House room on their first day at Penn and the $1 tacos they ate when they travelled across the United States-Mexico border.
He also noted Rogers' dedication to attending fraternity gatherings, despite his busy rowing schedule.
“He set the tone for everything we did,” he said. “He was the glue of the group and there’s no doubt we’re all better friends because of him."
Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett, who opened the ceremony, said that despite Penn's competitive nature, events like these remind of its caring community.
2015 Wharton and Engineering graduate and Beta Theta Pi member Joe Strege said he attended Rogers’ funeral in St. Louis, along with many other fraternity members. The 400-seat church was full for hours before it started, he said, with spectators in the aisles and on the balcony. They had to broadcast the ceremony so everyone could see it.
Rogers’ mother also addressed the crowd and encouraged everyone to use their love of Henry to make an impact.
“Live life now,” Buenzli said. “[Rogers] didn’t wait until the right time to do something. He just lived.”
After the seven speakers in the program finished, University Chaplain Rev. Chaz Howard invited audience members to share their perspectives. Howard added that many conversations he's had with students about Rogers begin somber but end with laughter.
“Henry didn’t live a life deserving of tears,” Buenzli said during his speech. “He lived a life deserving of a round of applause.”