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09/06/09 - NNHS Newsletter - Rog Rogallo

Francis Melvin Rogallo
(27 Jan 1912 - 01 Sept 2009)

Sanger (California) High School Class of 1928

Dear Friends and Schoolmates,   

 We have more sad news to report.  Flight pioneer 
   Rog Rogallo, co-inventor (with his wife, the late Gertrude Sugden Rogallo) of the Rogallo Wing, passed away in Southern Shores, North Carolina on Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at the age of 97.

From the Daily Press - 09/06/09:  

          Francis M. Rogallo

    SOUTHERN SHORES, N.C. - Southern Shores engineer, inventor, flight pioneer, loving husband, and devoted father, Francis Melvin Rogallo 'Rog', 97, passed away peacefully Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009, at his Southern Shores residence.

Rog, born Jan. 27, 1912, in Sanger, Calif., was the son of the late Mathieu Rogallo and Marie Dajas Rogallo Betzold, and stepson of the late William Frederick Betzold.

Rog was preceded in death by his wife, Gertrude Sugden Rogallo; brothers, Matthew Rogallo, Harold Rogallo, and Vernon Rogallo; stepsister, Margaret Betzold Pollock; and stepbrother, Curtis Betzold.
He graduated from Sanger High School in 1928 and went on to graduate with an advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics in 1935, one of the first to do so, from Stanford University.

After completing his college studies, Rog joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), later to become the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in 1936 in Hampton, Va., and embarked on what would be a long and distinguished career in aeronautics. In 1939 he married the love of his life Gertrude Sugden Rogallo, a young educator from the Hampton Roads area. The couple raised four children, Marie, Robert, Carol, and Frances, and celebrated 68 years of marriage together.

While Rog was working as an aeronautical engineer in the NACA wind tunnels and Gertrude was busy as a homemaker, they actively pursued at home their passion and dream of creating a vehicle to make flight affordable and available to everyone. While pursuing their dream, the couple met the legendary inventor Orville Wright who fueled their spirit of invention. Francis held several patents from his work at NACA and NASA, but was proudest of the one he and Gertrude filed in 1948 as co-inventors of a "flexible kite" based on their joint efforts at home in their leisure time. The device is one of the simplest airfoils ever created, a wing totally without stiffeners creating lift and carrying payloads. This Rogallo Wing has made possible many sports including hang gliding, paragliding, sport parachuting, stunt kite flying, and kite boarding enjoyed by millions of people.

The Rogallos are recognized worldwide for their contributions to sport aviation and have been honored in Japan, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, and France. Honors in this country for Francis include recognition by the National Air and Space Museum "for outstanding achievement in aerospace technology", presentation of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine from the State of North Carolina as one of the 100 aviation heroes by Senator Elizabeth Dole at the Century of Flight ceremonies in 2003, and induction of both into the Paul Garber Shrine at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. The couple's portrait hangs today in the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. Rog also was an inductee of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and of the Public Education Hall of Fame of the California School Boards Association, in the inaugural class in 1984, and both are honored with a pylon at the Century of Flight Monument in Kitty Hawk, N.C.

In 1967, Gertrude and Francis were lured to the beauty of the outer banks and purchased a summer cottage here. Later, they relocated to Kitty Hawk permanently where they were fixtures at the local aviation group meetings and gliding events. They embraced the outer banks community by becoming active members of St. Andrews Episcopal Church and later founding members of All Saints Episcopal Church, with Rog joining the First Flight Society, the Civil Air Patrol, and the Southern Shores Volunteer Fire Department.

Left to cherish the memory and spirit of Francis and Gertrude Rogallo are their four children, Marie "Bunny" Rogallo Samuels and husband, Phillip, Carol Rogallo Sparks and husband, Norman all of Southern Shores, Frances Rogallo MacEachren and husband, Alan of Boalsburg, Pa., and Robert Sugden Rogallo and wife, Sarah "Sallie" of Los Altos Hills, Calif. Rog also leaves three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren who loved him very much and will miss him dearly.

A celebration of Rog's life and achievements will be held at All Saints Episcopal Church in Southern Shores Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009, at 3:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes may be forwarded to the Rogallo Foundation, P.O. Box 1839, Nags Head, N.C. 27959.

The family extends its special gratitude to their wonderful caregivers who lovingly attended him over the years, to Dr. Delena Phillips and to Dare Home Health and Hospice.

Condolences may be sent to the family via the on-line register at Gallop Funeral Services, Inc. was entrusted with arrangements. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at

Published in the Daily Press from September 6 to September 7, 2009.

September 06, 2009 
My thoughts and sympathy are with you and the family at this time. I will not be able to attend the service, but will be with you in spirit.

Medora Kaltenbach, Southern Shores, North Carolina


September 07, 2009 

We have pleasant childhood memories watching the Rogallos flying their strange kites on Sunday afternoons over the beach near the corner of LaSalle and Chesapeake Avenues. They seemed to have such fun. Were these really grownups? Little did we know what those little kites would become ...

Wonderful folks. Our condolences to you all. Fly on, Rog and Gertrude
~ Tim and Anne Sniffen, formerly Hampton, Virginia

September 07, 2009 

Bob and Sallie & family,
Sorry to hear of your loss. Bob, your dad was an inspiration and an aeronautical super star for all of us who worked for NASA.
~ Sharon Haythorne Stack, Yorktown, Virginia

September 07, 2009 

I was fortunate to know the Rogallos when they lived on Milford Rd. in Newport News. I remember playing endlessly with Franny along with Walker and Blair during long summer nights. I also remember watching Mr. Rogallo throw a balled-up piece of cloth with a toy soldier attached to it into the air, and miraculously watch it glide down to the ground. It was just a toy to us, and we had no idea we were in the presence of genius. My condolences to the family and in loving memory to just the nicest neighbor a kid could have.
~ Jim Davis, Newport News, Virginia
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September 08, 2009 

The Rogallos, Draleys, and we (Voglewedes) became friends when we lived across the street from each other in our little four room homes on Lamington Road in Hampton. Then two of us moved to Lasalle Avenue and the Draleys moved a block over on East Avenue. It was on LaSalle Avenue that Rog started working (in their house) with his kite with a very large fan. I made the tails for the kites. The Rogallos were good friends and I think of them often.

Gert and Rog, Gene and Ida, and Tom are all in my prayers. My love to all the family.
~ EllaV Voglewede, Williamsburg, Virginia
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September 09, 2009 

Sincere sympathy to your family during this time of loss. Is it not true that we all look forward to the day when God will wipe the tears from all the faces, especially those tears caused by the death of a loved one, the words at Isaiah 25:8,tells us of that promise, which is soon to be a reality. May God continue to comfort your family in the days and weeks ahead, Respectfully.
Garie, Cleveland, Ohio

September 10, 2009 

I was just a Milford Road kid who sometimes was loaded into the Volkswagen bus, driven to the Lions bridge at the Mariners Museum, to fly a funny looking kite with the strings wrapped around metal OJ cans. Mr. Rogallo would come to each kid and tug on the strings, observe, note, tell us to bring them in and home to Milford we would go until next time. I still have my first kite (mylar with red tape and the OJ can) and fifty some years later enjoy going to the waters edge, at the Outer Banks, to fly my stunt kites. I am glad your parents enjoyed a long life, with a loving family, seeing so many people benefit from their genius. Our thoughts, prayers and sympathy are with the entire Rogallo family and especially with you Carol, my teen years friend. Our condolences, David and Paula Givens
~  David Givens, Stafford, Virginia
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   Our deepest condolences are extended to the Rogallo family and their friends at this time.

   Y'all take good care of each other!  TYPHOONS FOREVER!  We'll Always Have Buckroe!

                          Love to all, Carol





Carol Buckley Harty

For All the Saints

Lyrics by William W. How (1823-1897) , 1864
Music (Sine Nomine) by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), 1906

For all the saints
who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith
before the world confessed.
Thy name, O Jesus,
be forever blest.

Thou wast their Rock,
their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their captain
in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear,
their one true light.

O may Thy soldiers,
faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints
who nobly fought of old,
And win with them
the victor's crown of gold.

And when the strife is fierce,
the warfare long,
Steals on the ear
the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again,
and arms are strong.

From earth's wide bounds,
from ocean's farthest coast,
Thro' gates of pearl
streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost,

"For All the Saints" midi and lyrics courtesy of - 04/17/07

Greg Olsen Paintings courtesy of 01/27/05

Blackwork Flowers Divider Line clip art courtesy of - 08/12/04

Civil Air Patrol Logo courtesy of - 11/17/08

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