'A source of good'
By Kathryn Styer Martínez

Rogers Bardé, 78, sits in the attic of the Duncan Tavern Historic Center where the Kentucky chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is headquartered. Rogers helps keep the history of Bourbon County, much as her mother once did.

On a cool, mostly sunny Tuesday morning, Rogers Bardé, 78, walks half a mile to the Main Street YMCA with her companion, Larry Shelt, 81. They take turns describing the name and provenance of almost every old house they pass.

The two try to go almost every day to work out for about 20 minutes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Rogers lifts weights; the other days, she walks on a treadmill.

Rogers is a daughter of Kentucky and a beloved Paris resident. She is active in the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the War of 1812, the Bourbon County Garden Club and the Kentucky State Garden Club. She volunteers a shift at the Bargain Box, a local thrift store. She sings in the Presbyterian Church choir and is the church's clerk of session, a key leadership position.

On a Tuesday afternoon in late October, she and Larry went to election poll worker training at the county courthouse. She swore an oath that she had never fought a duel, a quirky Kentucky constitutional requirement to hold any state office.

She also volunteers at the John Fox, Jr. Genealogical Library­, located in the basement of the Duncan Tavern History Center, a 1792 building downtown. She also sits on the Center's board of directors.

Rogers is a constant in the community – especially when it comes to historical preservation efforts, says Nate Baker, Duncan Tavern's site coordinator. She is "a great leader and collaborator," he says.

Rogers comes from a tradition of strong-willed women. History and genealogy fascinate her. She is writing a fictionalized biography of her third-great grandmother, Margaret Rogers Reed, who crossed the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky with her family in 1781 by horseback at 11 years old. Margaret was a woman of many adventures. That and other great family stories always seem to focus on matriarchs.

Born and raised in Bourbon County, Rogers grew up in a five-bedroom, two-story house outside of town called Glenwood. It was a big, drafty house – cold in the winter and hot in the summer – but filled with adventure. She would regularly play in a dense woods on the property. Her mother didn’t mind much what she did, so long as she wasn’t doing anything she wasn’t supposed to.

Rogers has a quick mind, a wry sense of humor and a hearty laugh. She read the adult books when she was young­ because, she says, they were just more interesting. Many of the women in her family are highly educated. Her aunt Alice Shropshire, who went by the name Wally, earned bachelor's and master's degrees, went on to drama school at Yale in the 1940s and became a New York actress living in a Greenwich Village brownstone.

Rogers attended the same college as her mother and her aunt Wally, Randolph-Macon College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She says there was never a question that she’d go anywhere else. Rogers also has a master's degree in guidance counseling from the University of New Mexico.

During college, she went to Abiquiú, New Mexico to work on an archaeological site. "I just liked being in the West," she says. "That was a dream plan. Always. I wanted to go to the West."
Rogers met her future husband, David Bardé, at the archaeological site. After graduating, she moved to New Mexico where she lived for the next 37 years. Her love of the region is reflected in the traditional Navajo rugs, Hopi katsina dolls and pottery that decorate her home.

She was ready to come back to Paris by the early 2000s. David said the couple had spent so much time in New Mexico that "now it was time to go to Kentucky." But he passed away from cancer in 2002 before they could move. A few months later, Rogers headed back to Paris.
Rogers' mother was Kenney Shropshire Roseberry, an English, speech and drama teacher at Paris High School for 35 years and community leader with a strong personality. It was “her way or no way,” Rogers says.

Kenney died in 2022 at age 99. But even today, when leaders of her church make decisions, they ask themselves if Mrs. Roseberry would have approved, says Rogers' friend Linda Faris, 76.

Rogers says part of her challenge today is understanding the hole that her mother has left in her life. Like her mother, Rogers says, she wants to be a "source of good" for the community.

Rogers is deeply rooted in Bourbon County. She keeps photos of family members all around the house. After graduating from college in Virginia, she moved to New Mexico, where she lived for 37 years. While there, she says, “I got interested in genealogy and understanding the family and knowing more about them as people.”

As she gets older, Rogers is aware of the need to care for her body and mind. She and her boyfriend Larry Shelt, 81, try to make it the YMCA on Main Street every weekday morning. Her routines takes only about 20 minutes, but the health benefits of chatting with friends they meet along the way are manifold.

In order to volunteer as a poll worker, Rogers attends training at the Bourbon County Courthouse. Rogers is civic-minded, something she says she got from her mother, Kenney Shropshire Roseberry.

Rogers and Larry have been together for 14 years. They met on the dating website, Match.com. Every morning, they get up, make breakfast and eat at the table while reading the news on their respective devices. Rogers then looks up the temperature and records the high and low for the day in a ledger.

Their morning ritual includes waking up to public radio at 6:30 a.m.

Anne Wallace (right), who Rogers knew as Aunt Wally, went by the stage name Anne Shropshire. She became an actress in New York in the 1940s and appeared in the movies "Tootsie" (1982) and "The First Wives Club" (1996).

The Bargain Box is a thrift store on High Street where Rogers volunteers a three-hour afternoon shift. Her daughter Virginia drops off a check and schedules their next meeting before heading out to celebrate her wedding anniversary.

Rogers attends choir practice at First Presbyterian Church on Pleasant Street. Rogers finds community in her activities. As she ages, so do her friends.

“I watched mother die of old age and no one should have to do that,” she says, adding that people should “just be in a car wreck or something.” Rogers walks past the gravesites where some of her relatives are buried outside the Cane Ridge Meeting House – down the road from where she grew up. She’ll also be laid to rest in Bourbon County, alongside the many generations she has so diligently documented.