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ROGERS, David William ‘Bill’ AO

'Bill' Rogers, 1943 (Prefects)

'Bill' Rogers, 1943 (Prefects)

ROGERS, David William ‘Bill’ AO

Lawyer and Company Director, ‘Bill’ Rogers became Chancellor of Monash University after a prestigious career in law, and the gas and resources industry. He was the son of John David Rogers and Irene Myrtle nee Lowe and was born in Sydney.

'Bill' Rogers, circa 1998.

'Bill' Rogers, circa 1998.

Bill’ became a boarder at the Geelong College from 1940 to 1943 where he was an all-round achiever. He had previously been studying at Malvern Grammar School. He was a member of the Relay Team in 1941, in the 1st Cricket XI from 1942 to 1943, the 1st Football XVIII from 1942 to 1943 and became the Boys Open Singles Tennis Champion as well. In his final year at the College, 1943, in addition to considerable academic success, Bill was the School Football Captain, a member of the Tennis and Music Committees, Cadet Corps Lieutenant, a School Prefect and Calvert House Captain. Noted as a talented Glee Club performer, Bill played the roles of 'Yum Yum' in the Mikado in 1941, 'Jack Point' in Yeoman of the Guard, 1942 and the Duke of Plazo Toro' in the Gondoliers of 1943.

He enlisted on 28 March, 1944 and served as a signalman with Central Bureau Intelligence Corps in New Guinea and the Phillipines. After his discharge on 30 November, 1945 he entered Ormond College and studied law at Melbourne University. He first practised with the law firm Hedderwick, Fookes and Alston and later with Arthur Robinson and Hedderwicks after its merger with Arthur Robinson and Co in 1984 becoming a senior partner. Bill began an association with BHP in 1974-5 when he was appointed to the Board of ARC Industries, then 35% owned By BHP. He later became a Company Director of BHP, AMP, Costain Ltd, Gatic (Australia), APM Division Amcor Ltd, East Asiatic Co of Aust and Chairman of Woodside Petroleum, his activities also encompassed patronage of many Arts organisations including the Association for the Blind, Berry St Family Care, Arthritis Foundation and Baker Medical Research Institute. In 1992 he became the 5th Chancellor, Monash University in which position he continued until 1997. In 1999 he received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Monash University.

'Bill’s commitment and contribution to the School has also been immense, both through his membership of the College Council from 1965 to 1978 and his fund raising efforts over the years. At the Glee Club reunion and fund raiser for the Keith Humble Centre, Bill took a leading role and narrated proceedings. He opened the renovated Robertson Hall and Music Complex at the Preparatory School. His father, also a former Collegian, was Brigadier John David Rogers (1895-1978) a friend of Lieutenant-General Sir Horace Robertson who had opened the original Robertson hall in 1962. He became an Officer of the Order of Austalia on 26 January, 1998 for service to tertiary education as Chancellor, Monash University, and to the gas and petroleum industry and to the community.

'Bill' Rogers AO was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) Notables Gallery at Geelong College in 2011.

Sources: Who's Who, 1992, p1104; Ad Astra August 1998 p19: Correspondence 31 July 1998: BHP Magazine. Affleck, James Geelong Collegians' at World War II; NLA Interview with Rob Linn 9 March 2006.

From Ad Astra December 2019:
“Bill” Rogers led a full and highly successful life, excelling in legal, resources and educational pursuits over many decades.
Bill boarded at The Geelong College from 1940 to 1943 where he achieved in many fields – 1st XI Cricket in 1942 and 1943, 1st XVIII Football in the same years (Captain in 1943), School Prefect and Captain of Calvert House. He also pursued his great love of stage, performing in numerous Gilbert and Sullivan productions as a member of the Glee Club.

Upon leaving the College, Bill enlisted in 1944 and served as a signalman with Central Bureau Intelligence Corps in New Guinea and the Philippines. After discharge in 1945, Bill went to Ormond College and studied law at Melbourne University. After graduation Bill spent a short time as a lawyer at Maffra before joining the law firm Hedderwicks, Fookes and Alston in Melbourne, and following subsequent mergers, became the Senior Partner of Arthur Robinson and Hedderwicks in 1984, and remained with the firm in senior capacity until 2015.

Bill was heavily involved in business circles, serving on the boards of BHP, Costain, Amcor and Woodside Petroleum, of which he became Chairman. Bill’s contribution to Woodside’s development of the NW Shelf was recognised by the company when it named one of its new oil tankers after him.

Bill was also heavily committed to education, serving on the council and as Chairman of Ormond College. In 1992, he became the fifth Chancellor of Monash University, a position he held until 1997.

Bill’s involvement with The Geelong College was significant. He served on the School Council from 1965 to 1978, was a key fundraiser for the Keith Humble Centre, and he officiated at the opening of the renovated Robertson Hall at the Preparatory School.

He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1998 for service to tertiary education, to the gas and petroleum industry and to the community. Bill Rogers AO was inducted into the OGCA Notables Gallery at the College in 2011.

To his family and many friends, Bill is fondly remembered for his mischievous wit, impromptu speeches, love of people and his community engagement.

S. Hutton
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