Former CEO of Oakland's Dreyer's Ice Cream T. Gary Rogers passes away

Thursday, May 04, 2017 06:29PM
Condolences are pouring in on Thursday for noted Bay Area businessman and philanthropist T. Gary Rogers, who passed away on Wednesday at age 74.


OAKLAND, Calif. - Condolences are pouring in on Thursday for noted Bay Area businessman and philanthropist T. Gary Rogers, who passed away on Wednesday at age 74. Rogers was best known for his long tenure as CEO at Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream in Oakland.

He bought a share of the company for $1 million in 1977 and turned it into a major player. In three decades, Dreyer's went from 75 to 9,000 employees. He sold it to Nestle in 2006 for $3 billion.

Rogers also served as CEO of Levi Strauss, chairman of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and head of Safeway's board of directors.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf offered her condolences to the Rogers family in a statement, adding that she hopes they can, "Take some comfort in knowing that this community is richer for his contributions to it. Gary's legacy will be felt for generations to come."

Click here for the Rogers family's full statement.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that his legacy be recognized through donation to these worthy organizations:

T. Gary Rogers Endowment Fund for the UC Berkeley Men's Crew
Rogers Family Office
10 Clay Street, Suite 200
Oakland, CA 94607

Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, California
Lighthouse Community Charter School
Attn: Jenna Stauffer
444 Hegenberger Road
Oakland, CA 94621

An outdoor memorial service will be held at the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center on Monday, May 15 at 11:00 a.m. T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center, 2999 Glascock St. in Oakland, California. More information will be available on the Rogers Family Foundation website.

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Read Rogers' full obituary below:

Gary Rogers passed away doing what he loved, playing tennis at his home in Oakland, California, on May 2, 2017.

Gary was the chairman and CEO of Oakland-based Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, Inc., for 30 years. He also served as a former chairman of Safeway Inc., the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Levi Strauss & Co.

Gary was born in Stockton, California, in 1942 and spent his youth in Marin County. A distinguished Eagle Scout, he attributed much of his personal character to his experiences as a Boy Scout, as an oarsman on the crew at UC Berkeley, and his family's deeply-held values of integrity and honor.

In 1963, he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He was named UC Berkeley All University Athlete that same year and rowed in the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials.

In the summer of 1964, Gary married Kathleen "Cab" Tuck, whom he met while working on staff at the UC Berkeley Alumni Association Tahoe Alumni Center.

Gary spent the mid-sixties serving a two-year term in the Army as a Lieutenant in the Air Defense Artillery based on Mount Tamalpais.

In 1968, he earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and was honored as a George F. Baker Scholar.
At 34, Gary and his business partner William F. "Rick" Cronk purchased Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream a small regional ice cream company based in Oakland, California. For the next 30 years, Gary served as Chairman and CEO of Dreyer's, and together with Rick, built Dreyer's into the best-selling ice cream company in the United States.

Gary often said the building of the Dreyer's corporate culture was "the best thing we ever did at the company." It was a culture based on empowerment; respecting and trusting in the abilities of each individual. Every person felt a personal responsibility to "make a difference." It made Dreyer's a coveted place to work. In 2002, Dreyer's was sold to Nestle.

Gary also served as Chairman of Levi Strauss & Co., the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Safeway Inc. He was also a director of Shorenstein Properties, Stanislaus Food Products and the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. He founded and chaired the Oakland Dialogue, a group of East Bay political, educational, and business leaders.

Gary was inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame, was named Harvard Business School Business Leader of the Year, and received the Wharton Business School Joseph Wharton Award. He has also received the University of California Bear of the Year Award.

Gary was the primary benefactor of the University of California Cal Crew Forever Endowment Fund, the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center, and the California Rowing Club for elite post-graduate oarsmen. He was also a member of the High Performance Olympic Committee of U.S. Rowing.

He held numerous public service leadership positions and was the benefactor of the Rogers Family Foundation, which supports the University of California, education and activities for youth in Oakland and the East Bay, Bay Area hospitals, and bioscience research and innovation organizations.

Gary lived "The Spirit of Adventure." His passion for travel took him all over the world - to both the North and South Poles, the plains of the Serengeti, and the Amazon jungle. He sought out challenges and fought fiercely to overcome them, living by the motto, "There is no such thing as can't; there is only won't."

Gary loved and took great joy in his family. He and his wife, Kathleen "Cab" Rogers were married for 52 years and they watched their four sons Andy, Matt, Brian and John, marry and have children of their own. His eleven grandchildren will dearly miss their Bwana, the name they called him which means 'headman' in Swahili. Gary is also survived by his mother, Virginia, and brothers, Don and Jim.

"The joy in life is in the journey."

--T. Gary Rogers

Gary is survived by his wife, Kathleen "Cab" Rogers; mother Virginia Rogers (age 102); brothers Don (Judy) and Jim (Sandy) Rogers; sons Andy Rogers (Janine), Matt Rogers (Amy), Brian Rogers (Katie), and John Rogers (Lynnsay); and eleven grandchildren.


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