Edith Rogers (Class of 1946) – The Voice of Friends’ School Radio

Posted on March 4, 2024

When asked for the secret to her longevity, Edith Rogers (nee Davies, 1946) answers, “Determination.” The day before she attended The Friends’ School reunion in Melbourne in November Edith turned 94. She is determined to reach 100.

Edith at the 2023 Melbourne Reunion with then Principal, Nelson File.

Edith’s parents were Quakers, and when she was 11, she left the north east coast of Tasmania to board at Friends’. Edith says she “loved Friends’” – the teachers who’d come out of retirement during wartime, the co-ed classes, the food, even her grey, pleated uniform – and, although polio in early childhood had left her with lifelong back pain, she played tennis and represented Friends’ in hockey. When Edith was 15, Friends’ chose her to be in a radio broadcast. “I was told I had a suitable voice,” she explains. It was the start of a career performing in radio plays, and later voicing children’s programs, for the ABC.

Edith at school in 1946 with Charles “Dolly” Annells, a former Friends’ headmaster who taught English and Classics.

She switched to day student when her parents moved to the capital, and she and her “way-out, over-the-top” friend Patsy Schnaars (1947) would go to Renown in North Hobart, “to meet Hutchins boys”. It was the same crowded milk bar where Roger Jennings, who’d eventually become Solicitor General of Tasmania, would introduce her to Tony Rogers, a Hobart High boy from Huonville boarding with his family.

Tony and Edith on their wedding day at the Davey Street Congregational Church, in 1950.

The couple married in 1950 and moved to Melbourne in 1953. Tony devoted his career to Coles, starting as a storeman and rising to store manager; in 25 years, they moved 27 times – around Victoria and, back to Tasmania to open Coles at Glenorchy. (A newspaper report of the time marvels at its automatic doors.) Edith recalls her astonishment one day when she exited Coles with Tony to see their then six-year-old son Peter at the entrance. He’d wanted to come too and had chased the Ford Zephyr all the way from their home in Moonah.

Tony died in 2008, aged 82. He’d taken up cycling and clipped a tree at the end of a 20-kilometre ride. “We were always in love and always wanted six children,” says Edith. And they had six children: Virginia Rogers, board director and retired lawyer, retired emergency doctor Penny, former ballet dancer Marianne, physiotherapist Stephanie, food scientist Paul, and GP Peter. Edith has 16 grandchildren. She plans to attend the next Friends’ reunion in Melbourne.