Katy, the Executive Secretary here at the main office, and I have similar senses of humor (not always a good thing). So when Katy interrupted a meeting to tell me Roy Rogers was on the line, I thought she was setting me up. I took the call and, sure enough, it was Roy Rogers Jr., often known as “Dusty,” with some unbelievable news!
Last fall, I happened to read that the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum, which had been moved from Apple Valley, California to Branson, Missouri, was closing on December 12th. Dale Rogers Training Center sent Dusty a letter asking if we could beg, borrow, steal, or buy any items related to Dale Evans Rogers or her daughter Robin. Robin, who died at the age of two, had Down Syndrome and inspired Dale’s book Angel Unaware. Angel Unaware sold millions of copies around the world in the 1950s. It was to honor Dale Evans Rogers when parents named this agency after her. Dale Evans Rogers visited DRTC twice in the fifties and sixties, encouraging the individuals and their families.
Several people have told me that they remember doing a book report on Angel Unaware when they were in grade school. Dale Evans was a loving mother, a huge TV and movie star, and a singer. She was the first celebrity to go public about having a child with an intellectual disability and talked about what a blessing Robin was to her, Roy, and their family.
In 2003, in honor of our 50th anniversary, the individuals with disabilities at Prism Place, our awards division, custom made and sent a beautiful plaque to the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum. The plaque was added to “Robin’s Corner,” which is featured on our cover page. Dale’s granddaughters, Mindy and Candy, and their parents were a part of our 50th anniversary celebration in 2003.
When Dusty told me the Roy Rogers Family Trust was giving these items to us, I was speechless. After thanking him profusely, I added, “You have no idea how much these items will mean to those of us associated with Dale Rogers Training Center.” I asked him to thank the museum for entrusting us with these original items. He replied, simply, “It’s what my mother would have wanted.”
Jerry, Theresa, Deborah, and Lillian, who have been here 22, 10, 12, and 8 years, respectively, assisted me in unpacking the fragile items a couple of days later. Holding Robin’s original birth certificate, touching her satin bed cover, and looking at her little red piano, one of her favorite toys, brought tears to all of our eyes. A piece of history entrusted to us forever!
Dale’s favorite Bible verse was Hebrews 13:2…
Be not afraid to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Dale and Roy believed Robin was indeed an angel sent to them for a special purpose. Based on the positive impact Dale Evans Rogers and her book had on the world of disabilities, I would agree.