Obituaries

Dr. Lois K. Rogers, at 98; ran family practice in Topsfield

 Lois Rogers was celebrated by former patients, friends, and family, including Roland David, when she retired in 2004.
MARK WILSON/GLOBE STAFF
Lois Rogers was celebrated by former patients, friends, and family, including Roland David, when she retired in 2004.

No patient was ever turned away from the family practice Dr. Lois K. Rogers ran in Topsfield for 59 years. Those who couldn’t afford to pay sometimes compensated her with baked goods or a chicken for her farm.

On duty all the time, Dr. Rogers made a house call to visit a patient with the flu the morning after she married. She even delivered a patient’s baby while preparing to give birth to one of her children.

“She would be in labor with one of us kids and standing on the phone in the hallway of Beverly Hospital, giving medical advice to someone else,” said her daughter Mary Pat Hayden of Merrimac.

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Having grown up on a West Newbury dairy farm, working long hours was routine for Dr. Rogers. “She would come home at 11 p.m. and eat dinner and would still answer calls throughout the night because she was on call 24/7,” her daughter said.

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Dr. Rogers, who had been treated for respiratory ailments, died July 9 in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She was 98 and had been living in the West Newbury farmhouse where she was raised.

When Dr. Rogers closed her practice at 87 in 2004, she told the Globe that “the only reason I am leaving is because of age,” though she continued to read medical journals.

“People would still call her at home and ask her for her opinion on something and she would help them,” said Polly Gilford-Croteau of Topsfield. “They would send her flowers or cards in exchange.”

Gilford-Croteau was one of many patients whose families Dr. Rogers treated for generations. “Every time my mother had even a hangnail we were calling Dr. Rogers,” she said. “She knew everything.”

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Dr. Robert J. Alpern, dean of Yale School of Medicine, wrote in a 2004 letter to Dr. Rogers that she had “established a standard of intellectual curiosity, personal motivation and self-expression that has inspired generations of students.”

Among those she inspired was her son Dr. Anthony Hayden of Newburyport, who said his path to becoming a radiologist at Anna Jaques Hospital was guided by her example. “Not many sons want to be like their mother, but she made me want to be who I am,” he said.

Dr. Rogers often referred patients to Anna Jaques for tests and the two would discuss patients they shared. “With some physicians, you have to explain the results,” he said. “I never had to do that with her. She just understood.”

He added that he amused hospital staff by starting a phone consultation with her by saying, “Hi Mom.”

An only child, she was born in 1917 to Charles Rogers and the former Lucie Knight. Her father ran the Artichoke Holstein Dairy Farm and her mother was a homemaker. Attending a one-room school in West Newbury, she completed eight years of schooling in six years by listening in on lessons her teacher intended for the older students.

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Graduating from high school at 16, she saved enough money selling strawberries from the family farm to attend Wellesley College, from which she graduated with honors in 1938 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. At Yale University School of Medicine, she was one of two women in the 1942 graduating class, though she told the Globe in 2004 that she “didn’t pay much attention” to the gender distinction.

“She lived her life very matter-of-factly,” her daughter said.

Yale professors encouraged Dr. Rogers to remain at the university to teach anatomy and continue her research, after a nutrition study she conducted brought her the Thesis Prize in 1942, her family said. Instead, she opted for family medicine.

She worked as an assistant to a Concord physician and then opened an office in Topsfield in 1945. To establish her practice, she treated patients at all hours, putting chains on her tires to make house calls during harsh winter storms and catching a few hours of sleep when possible on a cot in the back of her office.

Dr. Rogers met John Hayden when he moved from Newfoundland to work on her family’s farm. Hayden, who was known as Gus, frequently visited Dr. Rogers in Topsfield to take her dancing, a pastime she loved. They married in 1948 and she kept her maiden name because she had established herself as a physician.

After her parents died, Dr. Rogers and Hayden moved their family to her childhood home to take over the West Newbury farm. Though Hayden primarily ran the operation, Dr. Rogers took pride in showing her children how to raise dairy cows for show, and she could birth a calf, having delivered nearly 300 babies. “My mother loved animals and loved the farm,” her daughter said. “She loved that her children were involved with the farm, too.”

During a career that began before the polio vaccine, she kept adapting her practice. She was a pioneer in allergy testing, her family said, and was among the first area doctors to encourage her nurse to become a nurse practitioner. “I remember her sitting at her computer at 90 years old with an oxygen mask shouting, ‘I’ve got e-mails coming in from all over,’ ” her daughter recalled, laughing. “What kind of 90-year-old woman has e-mails?”

An associate physician in the family practice department at Beverly Hospital, Dr. Rogers was also a member of the state chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and became a fellow of the organization in 1972.

“She always put her knowledge to good use,” her daughter said. “She was a strong woman. She loved being a doctor.”

Part of what drew Dr. Rogers to general practice was the chance to form long-standing relationships with families while treating successive generations. “She could tell you your family history without checking your charts,” her daughter said.

In addition to her son and daughter, Dr. Rogers leaves three other sons, Gordon Hayden of Newburyport, Stephen Hayden of West Newbury, and Richard Hayden of Needham; another daughter, Heather Caron of West Newbury; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

In retirement, Dr. Rogers spent time with family and read avidly. Her son Anthony noted that she scored 100 percent on the most recent test she took to retain her medical license, a month before she died.

“She was a one-in-a-million lady,” said Celia Swindell of Topsfield, a patient and a longtime friend. “They only made one Dr. Rogers. They don’t make them like her anymore.”

Meagan Dion can be reached at meagan.dion@globe.com.