A SPECIAL CELEBRATION: Keyser man treated to parade of friends for 90th birthday
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - There were sirens and flashing red lights in Keyser’s Airport Addition Monday afternoon, but it was a good thing.
The three Keyser Volunteer Fire Company trucks lead a parade of 12 vehicles - all filled with smiling faces and waving hands - past the Lynmar Street home of Conald Rogers in honor of his 90th birthday.
Not everyone gets a parade for their birthday, but in these days of COVID-19 restrictions, the family opted for a safely distanced celebration to mark the nonagenarian’s milestone.
The celebration was arranged by Rogers’ daughter Karen Emory, who was unable to travel from Florida back to Keyser for the celebration. Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, however, she was able to watch the livestream as the vehicles slowed in front of her dad’s house for the occupants to wave and yell “Happy Birthday.”
A few, masked against the virus and bundled up against the afternoon’s brisk winter wind, got out and ran up to the porch with balloons, flowers, and other gifts.
Rogers, grinning from ear to ear and sporting a special birthday cap declaring “90 Never Looked So Good,” greeted everyone with a wave.
One-half of a set of twins born Feb. 6, 1931, to Grattan and Bessie Rogers, Conald has lived in Keyser most of his life. His twin brother Ronald, who is the “older” one by five minutes, currently lives in Cumberland.
Daughter Karen says her dad did live in McCoole for a short while after marrying her mom, Lois Price, in December 1953. Just one day after the wedding, however, he donned a United States Navy uniform and boarded the USS Pittsburgh to serve his country from 1951-55.
When he returned home, the veteran began his career as a meat cutter at the Keyser A&P, located on South Main Street where Smith Funeral Home now has their parking lot. Rogers was a familiar face at the store for 32 years.
He has also worn another uniform in his lifetime - that of firefighter with the McCoole Volunteer Fire Company, where he served for 13 years.
After retirement from the A&P at the age of 51, he and his brother kept busy by painting houses in the local area for 10 years. When he put the paint brush down, he began delivering flowers for Leading Florist and Minnich’s for 10 years, and when he wasn’t delivering flowers, he worked at Markwood’s Funeral Home for 19 years.
According to Karen, “He’s ALWAYS been active and in touch with Keyser folks!
“The day finally came, though, when his very special girl, Naomi Snider, convinced him it was time to completely retire so they could enjoy bus trips and vacations together,” she said.
“ They were fully enjoying their travels until COVID preempted their excursions. But they will be ready to pack a suitcase when it’s safe again!”
Emory expressed her gratitude for the friends and family who helped her pull off the very special birthday surprise.
“I am very blessed to have quite a few friends and family that helped me make Dad’s 90th birthday extra special by delivering a singing birthday message and cake, decorating his front porch with birthday signs and banners, and baking him one of his favorites - pepperoni rolls,” she said.
“Special thanks to Cathy Shaffer for Facetiming Dad and I together during the parade, to Stacey Boggs for videoing the event and to Jennifer Turbin Hamilton for helping me put this together.”
Not a bad reason at all for some sirens and red lights on a cold blustery day!