Mike Rodgers would have been proud to be at work Friday.
The Ability Works instructor was always preaching safety and the company, which teaches employment skills to disabled individuals, is on a roll, reaching its record 118th day without a work loss accident.
“His line was always ”Be safe.” And he was a big part of that, to reach that record,” said Ability Works facility manager Chuck Bailey of his fallen friend.
Rodgers was in his Webster County home between Eupora and Mathiston April 27 when the infamous line of storms rolled through. He was badly injured when a tree fell on his home and his young son, Daniel, ran to get a neighbor for help.
“When they came back, Mike was still alive but saying ”Be sure you get Dorothy (his wife) and Daniel out.” He was worried about his family,” said Bailey. “So they got them on an ambulance and when the neighbor, Cecil, came back to get Mike out he said, ”Cecil, just turn around and go back. I”m going to meet the Lord.””
And those were the last words Mike Rodgers spoke to another person.
During Ability Works” May safety briefing, held the first Friday of each month, Bailey, the staff and clients of Ability Works took time to honor Rodgers, whose family was front and center.
Bailey recalled how he and Rodgers promised to buy everyone steaks if they beat the standing safety record of 94 days, set back in 2007. But steaks were expensive so they treated everyone to country fried steaks at Barnhill”s buffet.
Stories like that are plentiful when it comes to Rodgers, who had been with Ability Works since 2001. He drove the company”s quirky flat bed truck in the Starkville Christmas Parade in December when Ability Works won first place for its float. And Rodgers helped prepare the food for Starkville”s Citywide Tailgate, which Ability Works also won.
“I don”t know how we”ll do next year with some of our events,” said Bailey. “Around here it”s taken four or five good men and women to handle what he handled for us. He”s sorely missed for all the things he did.”
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.