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Deep Ellum People: Jim Rogers

February 26, 2021 | Deep Ellum Team

Celebrating a Life-Long Legacy of Service

Jim Rogers was a force of nature for Deep Ellum, the neighborhood that he loved, served, and called home. It is with heavy hearts that we share of his passing, but a desire to celebrate a life well lived that we share of the many ways that Jim shaped Deep Ellum forever, as he is the epitome of Deep Ellum People.

Originally from West Texas, Jim spent his younger years as a CPA before attending UT Law School. Jim utilized his innate sense of curiosity and acumen to form Ameripro Industries, in which he would obtain patents for his many creations and inventions. In addition to forming his own business, Jim also bought, sold, and rehabilitated buildings and property across the city. On top of his professional responsibilities and achievements, Jim was a passionate volunteer and servant giving his time to at least 10 organizations across the city in addition to his favorite place to serve, the Deep Ellum Community Association (DECA). 

As a long-time member and president of DECA, Jim fought for the Deep Ellum Community at every turn and with all that he could. From helping draft new sign ordinances to getting his hands dirty by replacing string lights or distributing mulch, Jim could be counted on to lead any charge that would be to the betterment of the neighborhood. During his time with DECA, Jim was integral in the success of major community projects such as the Deep Ellum Urban Garden, Deep Ellum Outdoor Market, the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, and most recently the free COVID-19 testing initiative. There are hundreds of words that could be used to describe Jim’s service to Deep Ellum, but at his core, Jim simply cared for the neighborhood so deeply that there is nothing he wouldn’t do to help. 

One of Jim’s proudest achievements and ongoing projects was acquiring and renovating the iconic Pearlstone Grain Elevator on the south side of Deep Ellum. Built in the early 1900s, the grain elevator had sat vacant and dilapidated for decades before Jim decided it would be his ultimate project. His diligent restoration was so successful that Jim and his wife lived on the property and spent many happy afternoons tending to their sprawling garden that covered the urban oasis of the Pearlstone. 

While there is so much more that we could say about Jim Rogers, his life, and his accomplishments, we asked those who served with him through DECA, DEF, and other Deep Ellum endeavors to share memories of Jim and the time they spent serving side by side with him.

“One thing I remember about Jim is that he was always the first to break a sweat for Deep Ellum. When we were building the Urban Garden, we built the big, heavy, 16 foot long cedar planters in the shade underneath the highway and then moved them into place with a team of volunteers. It was hot and miserable, but he was there every day we worked and would be the first to grab those planters and lift. Even though most everyone else was a half or a third of his age, he would work us into the dust and then shoot us a sly grin as if to say, “that was no big deal. I was always tickled too by how he shared the bounty of his garden at the Pearlstone. We loved it when he would come by and drop off blackberries or okra or peaches by the sack. You just could not stop the man and he was always giving, and I think that is an apt description for how he lived his life and worked for Deep Ellum.” 

“He was an early champion, uber-volunteer, and green-thumb guru at the popular Deep Ellum Urban Gardens (DUG). He cared deeply for neighborhood infrastructure and how it impacted residents, businesses, and visitors. From repairing twinkle lights and removing unsafe tree limbs to filling sidewalk holes and fixing broken water meter covers, Jim stepped in simply because there were problems that needed fixing.”

“Seeing Jim Rogers regularly in Deep Ellum for many years, and seeing the amount of care and passion he had for the community – that is the reason I wanted to become a part of DECA.”

“Jim is always a warm presence in any room that he’s in and his genuine caring heart towards those around him shines through immediately. One of my favorite memories with Jim is all of the tasty treats and produce that he’s shared over the years in DECA and DEF board meetings.”

“Jim played a huge part in the success of the Deep Ellum Outdoor Markets. He made sure everyone got paid and he dropped off and picked up the trailer at every market. And you gotta make sure that trailer gets packed right or he will let you know! Anything we needed, he made sure we had it. You don’t know how many times we told him to get off the ladder trying to hang the market banner. The best was when we were closing down the markets and Jim would yell at the Uber and Lyft drivers trying to break our barriers and would block their cars telling them that this is his street he paid for!”

“Jim was a wonderful man known for all his work across East Dallas for decades. He was a powerful advocate for Deep Ellum, Bryan Place, Exall Park and more.” 

“Jim was the last person to stay around and help clean up and make sure everything was finished. When we used to do the First Sunday DECA meetings at the Sons of Hermann Hall, Jim would get there early and help set up the food and he ALWAYS stayed to the very end and helped clean up all of the food. He would help me load the food and utensils/trays back in my car. He made sure all of the chairs were folded and put away.  He was there long after most of the other participants and I was always so grateful for his help. Jim has been such a gift to our neighborhood.”