We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory
LTC Roger Joseph Arango, Jr. (US Army, Ret.), boulevardier, passed away peacefully on August 8, 2022, in Ellensburg, Washington at the age of 80. Roger was born to Roger Joseph Arango Sr. and Dorothy Marion Arango (nee Miller) on September 26, 1941 in Miami, Florida. As a university student, Roger attended classes at Florida State University where he joined a fraternity, which he described as “a little like Animal House.” After three semesters of the “Animal House” lifestyle, Roger returned home and quickly moved out before his terrible grades arrived in the mail. Soon after, he enlisted in the United States Army in 1961, and eventually he attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, where he graduated in the top 2% of his class in 1967, choosing armor as his branch of service. After Ranger School, he did one tour in Vietnam where he received a Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and Purple Heart among several other commendations.
Roger married Ann Arango (nee Dority) on June 7, 1967, and they had three children, Clayton Porter, and premature twins Craig Dickinson and Ada Suzanne; Ada died shortly after birth. As a military family, Roger and his family were stationed in several locations including Ft. Knox, KY; Pittsburgh, PA; Stewart Air Base, NY; Ft. Leavenworth, KS; Yakima, WA; Stuttgart-Vaihingen, West Germany; Grafenwoehr, West Germany; and Sacramento, CA. While stationed in Pittsburgh, he earned his Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. During their time together, Roger and Ann spent much time traveling with their children, which instilled them with an appreciation of other cultures.
Shortly after his retirement from military service in 1986, Roger and Ann divorced. Upon retirement, Roger took on a few different careers, including as a military contractor in Saudi Arabia, and a lecturer in history and public affairs at Heritage College. During this time, he met Denise Lefler, and they married in 1994. Roger and Denise lived in Yakima when he served on the Yakima Symphony board, and they were both active in the Yakima Enological Society. Later they moved to Marine View Heights above the O’Sullivan Dam Reservoir near Othello, WA, during which time he worked for Grant County Department of Health. Roger and Denise also enjoyed traveling and spending time with Roger’s brother James Francisco Arango near Yellowstone and in the Bahamas. Roger and Denise separated in 2007, whereupon he moved to Memphis, TN. There he worked as a FEMA disaster coordinator and also taught classes at the University of Memphis until his retirement.
Eventually, Roger made his way back to Yakima in 2014 so he could be closer to his growing family. In his last 8 years of life, he frequently visited his children and grandchildren who lived in Seattle and Ellensburg, and he enjoyed traveling with his friend Kay Farrish. He particularly enjoyed Scotland and fishing expeditions in Costa Rica and his birthplace of Florida. To every family occasion, he brought the roast and many tales, some of which were true.
Roger was preceded in death by his infant daughter, Ada Suzanne. He is survived by his sons Clayton Porter (Ellensburg) and Craig Dickinson (Seattle), his grandchildren Zerian Alexander (Charleston, SC), Nathaniel Collins and Serena Helen (Ellensburg), Tristan Peter and Jasper Reid (Seattle), as well as his brother James Francisco Arango (Ogden, UT) and his family. Roger was thrilled to welcome a great-grandson Forrest Timothy, son of Zerian, in early 2022. Consistent with Roger’s wishes, there will be no memorial service, and he will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery with honors befitting his service to our country. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the Yakima Greenway Foundation, an organization he loved and supported until his passing.
Throughout his life, Roger’s consistent hobby was fishing. In the keys of Florida, the frozen lakes of New York, the glacial lakes of northern Saskatchewan, the ocean off Central America, and in the mountain streams of the Pacific Northwest, fish feared his presence. As he neared death, Roger recalled the final words of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” We hope that Roger got a few good casts in as he crossed the river one last time before his final rest. The fish may also now rest easy.
Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory of Ellensburg has been entrusted with caring for Roger and his family. Online condolences may be left at www.johnston-williams.com