Roger Wayne Badeker, of rural Alma, died June 30 at the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 87.
Roger was born March 29, 1932, in Kansas City, KS, to the former Virginia Pearl Miller and Russell Wayne Badeker. After a boyhood spent in the city, the family moved to Overland Park, where he graduated from Shawnee Mission High School. A football scholarship took him to the University of Colorado in Boulder, but he soon gave up the game and accepted a naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship, with the Marine Corps option. He graduated in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and was commissioned as a lieutenant that same year.
While back home on leave, he met Gaye Fryer, of Manhattan, on a blind date set up by his sister, Marjorie, who was also attending Kansas State. “I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you,” Roger later quoted his sister as saying. “She’s awfully popular.” Roger took this as a challenge, and a correspondence grew while he was serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Leyte and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He and Gaye were married Dec. 28, 1957, in Manhattan. The couple moved to Wire Mountain, CA, where the Marine Corps housed families stationed at Camp Pendleton.
In addition to early stints as a supply officer and recruiting officer, Roger’s Marine career took him to Vietnam as an advisor to South Vietnamese forces (1965-66), where his decorations included the Air Medal, a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with valor. (He would often say later that his proudest achievement was the “pistol expert” badge he gained after years of struggling with the unruly .45-caliber sidearm.)
In 1968 Roger’s family accompanied him to Bangkok, Thailand, where for three years he was assistant naval attache at the U.S. embassy. After that tour, he commanded the 3rd Infantry Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, on the island of Okinawa, Japan. He finished his career as a lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, at Camp Pendleton.
Roger retired in 1974 and enrolled in law school at the University of Kansas that same year. Upon graduation in 1977 he and Gaye began a private law practice in Emporia, where he also served as assistant Lyon County attorney. In the early 1980s the couple moved to a five-acre farmstead in Farmer Township, Wabaunsee County, and Roger continued to practice law. He served as Wabaunsee County attorney from 1985 to 1987. In later years he became well-versed in land use and zoning law and was a keen observer of the county planning commission.
Outside the office Roger spent countless hours restoring the farmstead’s stone buildings and providing labor for Gaye’s expansive gardens. He had an abiding affection for German shepherds and English sportscars, particularly Triumph TR-3s.
Roger loved Shakespeare, the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, limericks and puns. The more his audience groaned, the wider his smile. Even late in life, when his dementia had led him to reside at the Topeka VA’s memory-care unit, he remained a formidable Scrabble opponent and an odds-on favorite during trivia nights.
Gaye preceded him in death in 2018. Survivors include a sister, Marjorie Day (F. Gerry), of Houston, TX; a daughter, Jennifer Moore (Bryan Moore), of Shawnee; a son, Andrew Badeker (Elizabeth Seaton), of Alma; and three grand-daughters: Allison Lubarsky, of Miami, FL; Emily Lubarsky, of Lakewood, CO; and Eleanor Seaton Badeker, of Alma.
A private service is being planned. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Alma Public Library, the Alma Area Foundation and the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center’s Sunflower Memory Care Unit.