It’s with sadness that I report today that Roger Allaman, a 2008 Master Farmer, died Saturday, November 22.
I first came to know Roger as a young freshman at the University of Illinois. His daughter, Lori, was one of my first roommates at 4-H House, and Roger was the all-American Illini dad. He met his wife, Jule, at U of I. “We loved every minute down there,” he’d said.
Over the years, I ran into Roger at various farm meetings. Then when he was selected as a Master Farmer this past year, I got to spend time on his Roseville, Ill., farm, taking photos and talking with him and Jule.
Roger and Jule sought to make their farm a destination for grandchildren and that included building this playset. Said Roger of the building experience, "However long it says it'll take to build, just double that!"
When we visit a Master Farmer’s farm to take photos, it can be a lengthy process – we’re shooting photos to use in the magazine and enough for an entire slide show presentation during the Master Farmer program. But Roger was endlessly patient.
One of the neatest things to watch that day was how he took time with his two small grandsons, who were playing with Grandma and Grandpa that day while their dad, Doug, helped plant corn. One of the side effects of Roger’s cancerous pituitary tumor was a gradual loss of eyesight; at that point, he couldn’t drive a tractor but he could still share plenty with his grandsons. That morning, he’d already shared with 5-year-old Cooper and 3-year-old Carter a pre-K biology lesson on how a seed germinates. He really enjoyed showing them the soil and talking about how to take care of it – all in a way they’d understand.
During our interview, I asked Roger what he liked most about farming and I’ll leave you with his response: “I love the planting season and watching plants grow. I like the challenges that are presented in farming. It makes you really think about what you need to be doing in life.”
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