Orville Rogers

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Orville Rogers
Orville Rogers 2017 (cropped).png
Rogers in 2017
Orville Curtis Rogers

(1917-11-28)November 28, 1917
DiedNovember 14, 2019(2019-11-14) (aged 101)
Alma materUniversity of Oklahoma
OccupationPilot with Braniff Airways
Esther Beth (Shannon) Rogers
(m. 1943; died 2008)

Orville Rogers (November 28, 1917 – November 14, 2019) was an American pilot and competitive runner.

Early life[edit]

Orville was born to Stephen Alfred Rogers and Lillie Leona (Johnston) Rogers at home in Hubbard, Texas. Soon after, the family moved to Okemah, Oklahoma. Orville's sister, Veva Jean Rogers, was born in 1922. After short stays in Oklahoma City and Edmond, Oklahoma, Stephen left, and Lillie moved her family back to Okemah to live with her parents, Rueben Jefferson Daniel Johnston and Mary Elizabeth (Gilbreath) Johnston. When Orville was 10, Rueben moved the family to Sulphur, Oklahoma. Lillie had five brothers, including William (Bill) Green Johnston and Ralph A. (RA) Johnston. Both found success in the oil industry.[2][3] Orville graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1940, where he met his future wife, Esther Beth Shannon (class of 1941).[4][5]


Rogers set multiple world records, shown in the List of world records in masters athletics. At the age of 50, Rogers took up running after reading the book Aerobics by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper.[6][7] Rogers credits Dr. Cooper with saving his life, "at least once, probably twice," first by kickstarting his running career, and again when Dr. Cooper discovered blockage in his heart during a Cooper test. Orville has competed in Masters athletics races, setting records at the age of 90[8] and 95.[9] In 2015, Orville teamed up with other nonagenarians to set multiple relay running records.[10] He made national news after a video of his sprint against then 92 year old Dixon Hemphill went viral. Rogers, 99 at the time, won the race by 0.05 seconds.[11][12] To celebrate his 100th birthday, Orville and his family ran a combined 100 miles.[13][14] He then set two 100-year-old age group records in the 60m at 19.13 and 400m at 4:16:90 while competing at the 2018 USATF Masters Indoor Championships.[15]

Braniff International Airways[edit]

Based in Dallas, Orville Rogers was a Braniff International Airways commercial pilot for more than three decades. He was hired by Braniff Airways, Inc., in 1945 and retired after 32 years of service in 1977. During the late 1960s, he flew the famed McDonnell-Douglas DC-8-62 Intercontinental four-engine jet over the company's vast route system between the US Mainland and South America. His favorite Braniff aircraft was the Boeing 727-200 Trijet airliner.[16][17]


Orville and Esther Beth were generous supporters of many organizations, including Dallas Baptist University[18] and the Frontiers of Flight Museum.[19]


Braniff Airways Foundation awarded Mr. Rogers, its coveted Braniff Airways Foundation Hall of Fame Award. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in June 2017. In 2020, Braniff Airways Foundation will place Captain Rogers name along with the other Hall of Fame Recipients on a special plaque at The University of Texas at Dallas History of Aviation Collection in Richardson, Texas.[20]


Captain Orville Rogers died on Thursday, November 14, 2019, while in hospice care, exactly two weeks before his 102nd birthday. A heart problem was found in early 2019 and he underwent surgery for the problem. He died at peace, surrounded by family members.

Braniff Airways Foundation submitted his historical information to the Find A Grave website. Mr. Rogers' memorial number is 204723611.[21]


  1. ^ "Orville Rogers, Dallas' Record-Breaking 'Running Man' Passes Away At 101". CBS DFW. November 14, 2019.
  2. ^ "JOHNSTON, RALPH A." TSHA. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  3. ^ "The Archivist: Nappy, the Mountain Lion, was a celebrity in Oklahoma City". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  4. ^ "Calling the Roll of Sooner Classes" (PDF). digital.libraries.ou.edu. 2017 [1946].
  5. ^ Troxtell, Adam. "From the sky down: OU grad Rogers trades wings for running medals". The Norman Transcript. Retrieved 2017-11-06.
  6. ^ "2014 Member Awards". Cooper Aerobics. Retrieved 2004-12-19.
  7. ^ "99-year-old Runner (Texas Country Reporter)". YouTube. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  8. ^ "Faces in the Crowd". si.com. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  9. ^ Track and Field, USA. "Orville Rogers Member Spotlight". USATF. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
  10. ^ Winters, Wendi. "91-year-old Annapolis man, three others break world track and field record". Capital Gazette. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  11. ^ Fox, Kit. "99-Year-Old Upsets 92-Year-Old in Thrilling Sprint". Runner's World. Retrieved 2017-02-24.
  12. ^ Soong, Kelyn. "92-Year-old runner can't wait for a rematch after video of race goes viral". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  13. ^ Spiroff, Ally. "How Does the Fastest Centenarian Celebrate His Birthday? With a Run, Of Course!". Runner's World. Retrieved 2017-11-28.
  14. ^ Francis, Enjoli. "Family, friends lace up sneakers for 100-year-old marathoner's birthday run". ABC News. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  15. ^ "Watch: 100-year-old Dallas runner sets pending world record at USATF Masters Indoor Championships". Dallas News Sports Day. March 18, 2018.
  16. ^ "Runner, 95, Breaks World Records". abcnews.go.com.
  17. ^ "Calling the Roll of Sooner Classes" (PDF). digital.libraries.ou.edu. 2017 [1946].
  18. ^ "DBU Report Highlights - Summer 2009". DBU.
  19. ^ "Meet Capt. Orville Rogers, an extraordinary man". flightmuseum.com.
  20. ^ Cass, Ben (June 2017). "Orville Rogers Inducted". Braniff Airways Foundation Newsletter. 8 (36): 1.
  21. ^ Reece, Kevin (November 14, 2019). "Orville Rogers, 101-year-old running sensation, passes away". WFAA TV.