Born November 23, 1941, in Harlem, New York City, to Earl Sefer Chalmers and Carrie Cole Chalmers. Roger and his younger sister Phyllis, attended New York City public schools. With discipline, love and support; Earl and Carrie leveraged their children’s skills and talents to solidify a pathway for their futures. Roger was part of Minisink/New York City Mission Society, a local youth leadership agency. Roger was involved in Minisink’s music, leadership, and camping programs; eventually becoming a camp counselor.
Roger’s musical talent led to his acceptance at the prestigious Music and Arts High School in New York. His love and study of music led to him becoming a pianist and trombone player. His wife, Marilyn, says that Roger also has a “pitch-perfect” ear. (Who knew??) In fact, his son Tim asked his father to listen to a band he was considering for his wedding. Afterwards, Roger said don’t hire that band. The singer is off-key, as is one of the horn players. His “pitch-perfect” ear is only one of the many of characteristics of Roger, that we all came to appreciate. If you didn’t want his opinion, don’t ask for it.
Roger attended West Virginia State College, where he joined the ROTC. In 1962, he became the one and only member to join the Omega Psi Phi fraternity that year. In WVA, as a young college student, he met and married Patricia Coles. They share two sons, Roger Jr., and Craig. Upon graduation, Roger enlisted in the United States Army where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Roger served in Orleans, France serving as company commander before returning and settling in the states. Roger humbly credits Minisink, his military background, and the ROTC with the development of his strong leadership skills.
Following his military service, Roger made time to obtain a master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State University in Urban Studies. He later became a corporate trailblazer. In fact, I don’t think there was a trail, once Roger arrived; he truly blazed those trails, opening doors for so many of us to walk proudly through.
Returning to the states as Capt. Roger Chalmers, he landed his first management job at the technological giant IBM. He held human resources and operational leadership roles at Mobil Oil, American Cyanamid, Nestles, and Federal Express.
Roger and his best buddy, the late Jimmy Robinson, developed and worked on a program to provide financial support for minority students entering college. He provided support and guidance to family members and friends. “He often showed up at your office to take you to lunch and offer a listening ear and advice.”
It was Roger’s love of Golf that led him to a tournament in Virginia, where he met his wife, Marilyn Miles. Marilyn and Roger have been married thirty-eight years, calling each other “The Love of their Lives.” A consummate family man, Roger, and Marilyn worked successfully to blend their families: Roger Jr., Craig, Nika, and Tim, settling in Madison, Connecticut. Roger sought out his family members and was the patriarch that checked in on everyone — sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins — he truly cared and loved his family.
Roger and Marilyn moved to Providence Forge, Virginia after retirement. Roger became a member of New Zion Baptist Church, Williamsburg, Virginia. He enjoyed visiting and checking in on his elderly aunts and researching his family tree. He believed that it is important that his children know their family history and heritage. The check-ins on all his family continued, via his cell phone. Roger loved to talk (to no one’s surprise), certainly in the Chalmers’ DNA; or as the old folks used to say, “he got it honest.” If Roger called you, take a seat, it was going to be a long ride, filled with laughter and love. We will all miss those calls. It was a long-distance hug. He also had a commitment and appreciation for volunteering and mentoring, in his community. He served on a domestic violence board, volunteering, with his wife, in the Palliative Care Unit at Virginia Commonwealth University Hospital. He served as president of the Ruritan Club in his local community.
Roger’s legacy will live among his wife Marilyn, their children, Roger Jr., Craig (Felicia) Nika (Javier), and Tim (Melanie): Seven grandchildren- Hunter, Cara, Craig, Jr., Jacobi, Cydney, Kennedy and Elle. One great grandchild- Josiah. Sisters, Phyllis Gleaton and Frances Thomas. Three nephews- Kevin and Salim Gleaton and Arthur Thomas. One surviving aunt, Rev. Pauline Johnson, a host of faithful and caring cousins, friends, and the brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
This is only a snippet and does not begin to describe the life and legacy of Roger Chalmers, and how much he will be missed. Nonetheless, we must take comfort in knowing he’s with the Lord and the elders that went on before him. A Jewish prayer says, “may his memory be a blessing.” Roger was a blessing. It’s his family’s hope that his memory will bless and keep us until we meet again.
Many thanks to cousins, Joyce Coleman, Gail Britton, and daughter-in-law Felicia Chalmers for helping in recalling Roger’s written memories.
The Family gives many thanks to the healing hands of all of Roger’s medical doctors and staff, during his long, hard-fought medical battles. Special thanks to his caregiver, Lauretta and the staff of Kindred Hospice who helped to make his “journey” more comfortable.
A funeral service will be held 2 pm, Sunday, August 7th at Vincent Funeral Home, 9923 Pocahontas Trail, Providence Forge, Virginia 23140. The family will receive friends from 1-2 p.m., just prior to the service.
Repast held immediately after services at Antebellum, 4370 N Courthouse Road, Providence Forge, Virginia 23140.
Burial at later date, at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia 22202.
In lieu of flowers, you may make donations to New Zion Baptist Church, Endowment Fund. Mail to P.O. Box 63, Lightfoot, VA 23090 or via the website: www.newzionwilliamsburg.org/give and note “Endowment Fund”.