In Memory of

Roger Lee Hayenga

July 1, 1947 - October 16, 2017
From: Arnolds Park, IA
Roger Lee Hayenga

Roger Lee Hayenga

Born: July 1, 1947
Died: October 16, 2017
Age: 70

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Roger Lee Hayenga was a scholar. He was quick to teach, and sometimes quick to teach you to educate yourself. Many remember asking him a question and receiving the answer, “Look it up.” Not because he didn’t know, but because Roger wanted you to own your knowledge. He believed that knowledge was power; that power could get you anywhere you needed to go in life.

On July 1, 1947 Roger was born in Adrian, Minnesota. His father passed away of sudden cardiac arrest while Roger was still very young. While his mother eventually remarried and Roger found friendship with his new step-father, Roger still chose to move in with his oldest sister and her husband on their farm outside of Little Rock, Iowa.

In 1965, Roger graduated from Little Rock High School and attended Morningside College. It wasn’t a successful experience, and he moved back to his home area and worked until he was drafted to serve in the United States Army in the Vietnam War from January of 1968 until March of 1969 earning the Military Merit Award, Vietnam Medal, and Vietnam Service Medal. Roger was a hero. He was a hero to his family. And whether they initially accepted it or not, he was a hero to his country. Many Americans did not want our soldiers involved in the Vietnam War. Vietnam did not want our soldiers’ help. When they returned home, they were told to dress in civilian clothes and wear hats so that their G.I. haircuts didn’t give them away. Otherwise they could have been badly beaten or even shot by the Hanoi Jane (Fonda) crowd. Upon returning home, he was transitioned to the United States Army Reserves, during which time he attended Winona State University and earned a degree in political science as well as his teaching certification.

Roger briefly taught at Arnold’s Park High School before he met and married Deb Carlson on August 9, 1974. Devotion to country and desire to best provide for his growing family drew him back to the military, and in February of 1977, Roger reenlisted in the United States Army where he served on active duty for 21 years. Initially, Roger was a Recruiter, but quickly transitioned to reenlistment and retention (career counseling) where he could combine his talents as a teacher and his commitment to his country.

Roger and his family moved wherever the Army sent them; living in six different states, but spending nearly twelve years in Germany. They dearly loved traveling; experiencing new places and things. Roger took full advantage of the years they were stationed in Germany to explore his family’s roots, explore more than a dozen different countries and histories that intrigued him. A significant highlight for Roger in particular was an opportunity he had to chaperone a youth mission trip to Kenya, Africa.

During Roger’s United States Army career, prior to retiring in March of 1995, he had earned the Military Achievement Medal, National Defense Award, Good Conduct Medal, and Meritorious Service Awards.

After retiring from the Army, Roger and Deb originally settled in Spencer where he had the opportunity to touch the lives of area youth as the Director of the Upward Bound Program at Iowa Lakes Community College.

After 7 years, Roger felt a calling back to serving his country by serving his fellow veterans and accepted a job with Iowa Workforce Development/Veteran Affairs. He served there another 7 years before retiring completely, or as one granddaughter commented, “recovered”.

For 8 years of his retirement, Roger drove the van for Veterans Affairs of Spencer and Spirit Lake to and from Sioux Falls.

Nothing was more import to Roger than family. He was supportive of each of his four children. However, nothing put a twinkle in his eye quite like becoming a Bumpa.

Eventually, Parkinson’s Disease caused by Agent Orange damaged his body, but to the end, nothing could damage his spirit.

On October 16, 2017, Roger Hayenga fought his final battle and passed away at the Spencer Hospital. Despite the joys and struggles of Roger’s life in this world, his family is content in knowing that his faith has carried him into the loving arms of his heavenly Father; whom he sought above all else. 


Roger Hayenga of Arnolds Park, Iowa passed away Monday, October 16 at the Spencer Hospital. Family and Friends will celebrate his life on Sunday, October 22 from 2-5 at the Town and Country Hall in his hometown of Little Rock, Iowa. Roger was a retired U.S. Army Master Sargeant and decorated Vietnam Veteran and graduate of Little Rock High School.


Friday, November 24, 2017 at 7:13 PM
“Our sympathies to the Hayenga family. Roger was a great person to work with (at IWD) and always spoke fondly of his family. ”
- Carol & Patrick Morgan
Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 9:07 AM
“To the family and friends of Roger Hayenga, I would like to express my deepest and heartfelt condolences. I am truly sorry for the lost that your family is feeling. When ever we lose such a caring and loving person, it is the hardest thing that any of us can go thru. And because of that my thoughts and prayers are with your family. During this extremely difficult time, please turn to God for comfort and support. He promise to give your family the strength needed in order to endure this great lost. ( 2 Corinthians 1:3,4) Something else that can bring your family comfort is cherishing the wonderful memories that you have of Mr. Roger. These precious memories will console the family in the day's ahead. ”
- LaToya Johnson
Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 4:08 PM
“Our hearts grieve with you. We remember our times together with laughter, jokes, love for our families. Roger will be missed greatly but lived the hope we all have in knowing Jesus as our savior and we look forward to seeing him again.”
- Nancy Woods
Friday, October 20, 2017 at 12:52 PM
“The first paragraph states Roger & us in Upward Bound....He was a good teacher.. I remember him having a joke, willingness to help others. We had talks about his career in the Army as my brother was career Army..Roger was one of the greatest guys I've known. He touched lives of those in Upward Bound, and everyone that he knew. He will be missed my everybody. ”
- Judy Baas
Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 4:32 PM
“Deb and family, I was so sorry to hear of Rogers passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Working with him at IWD was a joy. He was a great guy. We will all be together again one day in heaven. God Bless”
- Deb Collingwood
Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 9:57 AM
“Deb, I'm so sorry to hear about Roger. Thoughts and Prayers go out to you and your family.”
- Vangie Alger Cowen
Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 8:17 AM
I am so sorry to hear of Rogers passing. My heart hurts for you. While there are no words to say, I believe our God only chooses the best. You have an angel watching over you and your children. May you feel the strength of Gods arms wrapped around you. Sending you healing and comforting prayers and hugs! 🙏”
- Rhonda and David Nelson
Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 8:17 AM
“Many years since I have seen you guys but have thought of you often and wondered how you were. Sorry to hear of Rogers passing. We had many talks while working in the Trio office at Iowa lakes and I will remember him as a dedicated person to helping kids get an education. Barb jerome”
- Barb jerome
Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 8:17 AM
“Words can't describe our sorrow and sympathy to Debbie and their beautiful family. Roger and Debbie were such an inspiration to everyone they met. Although it has been many years since we've crossed paths you all were always in our thoughts and hearts. Roger will be sadly missed. Our hugs and prayers to you all💖”
- Terry and Wendy Stewart
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 8:48 PM
“Dear Deb, We are so sorry to learn of Rogers passing. He was a really nice guy who had a very unique and full life. We are praying that God will comfort you and your family. Monty and Sandy Keller”
- Monty Keller
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 8:00 PM
“Deb and family,
We are very sorry to hear of Roger's passing. Roger was admired and respected as a friend and coworker. Roger has now gone ahead to be with our Lord Jesus Christ. We will miss Roger but look forward to seeing him again when we who trust in Jesus as Redeemer and Savior calls us home.”
- Gerald and Valerie Rath
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 4:58 PM
“Sorry for the passing of a great man and I will keep the families in my prayers. MSG Hayenga was a great and honorable person I have had the pleasure of meeting. He will be greatly missed by many, so we must never forget the love he had for his family, friends and country. Fair Winds and Following Seas my friend.....We Have the Watch Now.”
- Kelly Demere
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 3:10 PM
“Eighteen years ago, Roger hired me as his Iowa Lakes CC Upward Bound office assistance, for which I'm grateful to this day. One thing I appreciated about Roger was his ability to challenged each of us (students and staff) to give 110% at whatever it is we did. Deb and family, my thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
- Pam Harnden
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 3:10 PM
“It is with a heavy heart that I extend my deepest sympathy to the Hayenga family. Roger was a very special man who loved is wife, children, grandchildren and his God. He took great joy in helping others. I only hope he had some idea of the many, many lives that he touched.....he was a true hero. Heaven has that hero now.”
- Julie Williams
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 3:10 PM
“Leslie & family, so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts & prayers are with you all.”
- The Haisman’s
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 10:49 AM
“Travis and Brooke- I am so sorry to hear about your dad! Praying for you all as you navigate a new normal. Love you so much.”
- Shanygne Gullickson
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 8:12 AM
“Deb and Family, I am so sorry for your loss. Roger was a very big influence in my life. He will be missed. The next part I posted on FB and wanted to share it with you: Oh Roger.....where do I begin? You were there for so many of us during our time in Upward Bound and beyond. Whether you needed someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, or a good laugh. You made me see what I could achieve in my life, and for that I am forever grateful. I still get a chuckle remembering our time speaking to the college board for the trio program...I was trying to be all professional and you go and refer to me as Gehrty during your whole speech....still Remember Jim Billings getting a good chuckle when I explained it to them.....Rest in Peace, my friend.”
- Melissa Tindall aka Gehrty
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 8:12 AM
“Deb and family. I was so sorry to hear of Roger's passing. Will always remember the times we shared in bible studies in your home and the wisdom that Roger always showed. Love and hugs. ”
- Bonnie Henderson
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 8:12 AM
“Deb, We Were Sooo Very Sorry to hear of Roger's passing! He was a Friend to Everyone and now He has Many friends in Heaven! Our Thoughts and Prayers are with You. Love You, Ruth and Pete ”
- Ruth and Pete Albrant
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 8:11 AM
“Oh Deb~ We are so sorry for your loss and I am praying for you tonight. We are so glad we got to know Roger! What a beautiful hearted man he was! May God bless you with many wonderful memories and sustain you in this difficult time!”
- Rachel Simington
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 2:53 PM
“Our thoughts and prayers for you, Deb, and your family - for comfort, peace, strength, courage.”
- Sandy Heerdt
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 10:42 AM
“Deb and Family,
Our hearts are so very sad for your profound loss. Roger's wit and wisdom was amazing. His leadership in Life Group was encouraging, easy to grasp, and always so very interesting. He was a perfect host and leader. We are blessed to know such an amazing man and family. We loved his smile. The hug he and Jesus exchanged must have been incredible! ”
- Gary and Linda Prince
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 10:42 AM
“I am so sorry for your loss. Roger was such am influence to me in my high school years throughout Upward Bound. I shared many long chats with him, and several times in my life his wisdom has rang in my ears. Sorry for you loss of this very special guy. ”
- Mary Schafer Newton
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 8:07 AM
“Roger was such an important part of my Upward Bound years! I'm so sorry to hear of his passing. He was a special guy! Prayers for your loss! ”
- Lena Peters
Monday, October 16, 2017 at 7:46 PM
“Deb and family I am so sorry for your loss. Roger was always so kind and understanding. Praying for you and your family at this difficult time. Linda”
- Linda Sorenson
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