with Horse and Hound

Brett Phillips

joe rogers.portrait2.lees

“Dr. Joe”: An Appreciation

joe rogers.portrait2.lees"Dr. Joe" Rogers, MFH / Douglas Lees photoDr. Joseph M. Rogers, who died March 8 at his beloved Hillbrook farm near Hamilton, Virginia, was of a rapidly disappearing breed of Virginians whose financial resources made possible the pursuit of a mission to preserve the countryside before it passed from reality to a lithographic memory.

These Virginians did not keep score with coin. The acquisition of land was not an egotist’s pursuit, and its preservation was not a beauty contest. Land was acquired and cared for because it represented an irreplaceable resource. That it provided the setting for pursuit of agricultural business and field sport was a cherished benefit, not a root rationale. To do otherwise, he believed, was to leave God’s earth to the vagaries of the marketplace.

“Dr. Joe,” as he was known by all, was at heart a man of that earth. He admired a craftsman who could build a proper four-panel fence or shoe a horse as much as he respected a man who made his fortune in business. In many cases, more so. He took pride in being able to train one species of canine to be capable of pursuing another much craftier, quicker, and agile species—a sport called foxhunting, in which the hunted had nearly insurmountable advantage over the hunter. It is a picturesque sport, photographed, illustrated, written about, and otherwise memorialized. But it was also a lot of hard work when you were in charge of bringing the show to the field.

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Dr. Joseph M. Rogers, MFH, Dies at Home on Hillbrook Farm

joe rogers portrait.piedmnt ptp.70s.leesAt the Piedmont Point-to-Point in the 1970s / Douglas Lees photoDr. Joseph Megeath Rogers, 90, died on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at his Hillbrook Farm near Hamilton following a stroke. While he occupied a gigantic space in the world of foxhunting, that world was but a small part of his very full, productive, and generous life.

Physician, farmer, Master of Foxhounds, steeplechase rider and trainer, businessman, rural land conservationist, and philanthropist, Dr. Rogers was a tireless advocate and practitioner of country living whose contributions in a broad range of interests were made quietly and with little fanfare.

His public persona was most closely connected with remarkable success as an owner, trainer, and rider of some of Virginia’s most successful steeplechase horses running under his familiar red with white cross sash silks. But his success in that rugged and dangerous sport was merely a visible extension of his commitment to protect Virginia’s rural countryside, a mission he often defined as a moral obligation.

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