Obituary: Patience Griffin Rogge


Patience Griffin Rogge was a pillar of civic activism in Port Townsend, the Tri-Area, Jefferson County and across Washington state, active in many causes to improve community and government accountability.

That was affirmed by several speakers at Rogge’s memorial service, held June 5 at Fort Worden State Park. Rogge, 74, died after a sudden illness on May 23, 2015 in a Seattle hospital, with her husband of 58 years, David Rogge, and other family members at her side.

The Rogges moved to Jefferson County in 1993. A career librarian, she quickly became involved in the Jefferson County Rural Library, serving on the board and active in many of its programs.

She took a special interest in Fort Worden State Park. She single-handedly built the Fort Worden Oral History Program, interviewing dozens of people who played a role in the century-long history of the park. For that work, she won the Jefferson County Historical Society Merit Award in 2010. She chaired the Friends of Fort Worden, the fort’s key fundraising arm, and served with the Fort Worden Advisory Committee.

A volunteer in all of these endeavors, she was so devoted to the functioning and support of the fort that she was handed an office in an unused room, and she treated her fort work like an almost full-time job.

For some 16 years, she was an active member of the Jefferson Higher Education Committee (JHEC) and worked tirelessly in the cause of local higher education. For the past three years, she was the committee chair.

During her time, the Jefferson Education Center (JEC) was launched as a 10-year program by Washington state, providing access to higher education for hundreds of county residents.

On May 12, shortly after Rogge fell ill, Peninsula College, Port Townsend and Fort Worden Public Development Authority officials conducted the ceremonial groundbreaking to turn Fort Worden’s Building 202, a former barracks, into a full-time college building. She also worked on a needs-assessment survey.

Rogge worked tirelessly on both efforts, and knew they were coming to fruition before her death.

“Patience was a warrior,” said Scott Wilson, also a member of the JHEC. “I never saw her go into anything halfway. When she took on a cause or a project or a board, a force was set in motion that would not be dissuaded. She did her work on fronts both large and small. She did the research, organized the meeting and set the agenda. She also brought the cookies, made sure the coffee was hot and that everyone was well-fed.”

A staunch advocate of open government, Rogge was a prime moving force behind public educational events held all over Washington to teach citizens and public officials the legal rights of citizens to public documents and open meetings, through the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG). Toby Nixon, president of WCOG, said Rogge had done more for that cause than anyone in the past 10 years, and in 2011, she received the James Anderson Award for her work. She was also chair of the Washington Library Friends and Trustees Association.

Rogge was born Sept. 11, 1936 in Bradford, Pennsylvania, to Constance and Albert Griffin. She graduated from Bradford High School in 1954, attended Pennsylvania State University and was married Aug. 31, 1957. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Government in 1962 and a Master of Arts degree in Library Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963.

Her work and that of her husband took her to Richmond, California, and to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, before the couple moved to Port Townsend.

She is survived by husband David Rogge, daughters Rachel Rogge (with partner Andrew Recher) and Michelle Rogge (husband Jean-Louis Thauvin, with their two children), sisters Prudence Davis Beck and Alanna Geist Mason Griffin, and many cousins, nieces and nephews. Her family suggests that memorial donations could go to Friends of Fort Worden, Washington Coalition for Open Government or the Friends of the Jefferson County Library.