By Land Line staff
A young man whose humor and courage captured the hearts of truckers will be fondly remembered. Chance Tobin Rodgers, 15, grandson of OOIDA Life Member Jim Rodgers, died July 9 at home in Klamath Falls, OR. He had fought bone cancer since he was 12.
OOIDA life members: Jim Rodgers and his grandson, Chance
Photo by Mark H. Reddig
Chance Rodgers, also an OOIDA life member, was only 2 years old the first time he took a short trip in the truck with “Papa.” As Chance got older, the trips with his grandfather got a little longer. Papa, aka Jim Rodgers of Beatty, OR, would sometimes ask Chance if he was homesick. He never was. It wasn’t that he didn’t love his family, but the two had things to do, loads to deliver, new people to meet, and museums to visit. Sometimes when Chance was at home, he would call Papa and want to know when he could get back in the truck.
When Chance was in the sixth grade he had pain in his left leg. The family first thought he had growing pains, but when there was a lump they went to the doctor. He was diagnosed with bone cancer on Oct. 31, 2007. The next several months were spent in and out of the hospital where Chance underwent chemotherapy and numerous surgeries.
During the 2008 Mid-America Trucking Show, country-western recording artist and OOIDA Life Member Leland Martin performed a concert, which was followed by an auction to raise money for Chance’s family. Truckers came together in a huge way, providing financial assistance and support for the Rodgers family.
Fast-forward to the 2010 Great American Trucking Show. Papa Jim was in attendance with a now 15-year-old Chance who was doing great with his cancer in remission for the past year and a half. He had surgery in April, losing part of his leg, but it didn’t slow him down. Chance was walking with a prosthesis and enjoying his freshman year of high school. He had joined ROTC and was looking forward to getting his driver’s permit.
Then, during a fall checkup, doctors found spots on one of his lungs. Chance and his family geared up for another fight. He felt he still had so much to do in life. After high school, it was his dream to be an Army Ranger, possibly followed by a career in trucking. According to the family, the tumors were surgically removed, but earlier this year, the cancer was back in his lungs and also as a tumor on his upper spine. He soon became paralyzed from his waist down and eventually lost the use of both arms.
Chance was sent home on March 31, 2011, as a hospice patient. Through caringbridge.org, many friends in the trucking industry followed Chance’s brave efforts and long stays at the Oregon Health and Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. His courageous struggle was chronicled by his mother, Jennifer Honeycutt. You can read those posts and tributes and sign the guestbook at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/chancerodgers/journal.
His battle ended about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, July 9. The family says Chance passed away “peacefully in his sleep.”
He is survived by his father, Jim Rodgers Jr.; his mother Jennifer Honeycutt and stepfather, David P. Honeycutt; three sisters, Shelby, Marilynn and Riley; paternal grandparents, Jim and Marianne Rodgers, Beatty, OR; maternal grandparents, Mike and Ruth Botens and Patricia and Lee Brewer.
Funeral arrangements are being made through Eternal Hills Funeral Home in Klamath Falls. Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 16, at Henley High School in Klamath Falls with interment at Mount Laki Cemetery. Memorials can be posted at eternalhills.com.
Editor’s note: The staff of OOIDA send our deepest sympathy and prayers of strength to the Rodgers family. Safe travel to Papa Jim Rodgers. Jim, an owner-operator leased to Fikes Truck Line, Hope, AR, was delivering in Texas when Chance passed away. He is now deadheading to Oregon and expected to arrive sometime late tonight or early Tuesday. When we talked to Jim at noon Monday, he was 700 miles from home. Jim, we’re with you every mile.
Kerry Evans-Spillman, Jami Jones, Sandi Soendker, Reed Black and Mark H. Reddig contributed to this article.