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Roger Edward Cawthon

Posted By obits On May 13, 2020 @ 2:28 pm In Obituaries,Outer Banks | 28 Comments

In the warm embrace of loving family members, Roger Edward Cawthon, 67, departed this world on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. He was born June 12, 1952, in Newport News, VA, where he spent what he always referred to as a “joyful childhood.” He graduated from Ferguson High School (NN) and received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from which he graduated in 1975.

He served in the United States Army before going to work for Ford Motor Company as a design and test engineer. Soon, however, Roger’s love of sports, his exuberant personality, writing skills, gift for visual imagery and broadcast-quality voice led him to a career as a sportscaster at the then-brand new CNN in Atlanta, GA. His broadcasting career provided unique opportunities that became some of the highlights of his life: he played a round of golf with the legendary Jack Nicklaus, boxed a few rounds (very few, he always emphasized) with heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, and partied with James Brown, even getting to sing “Proud Mary” onstage once with the iconic “Godfather of Soul.” Wanting to be closer to family and friends in his hometown, he moved back to Hampton Roads in 1981 where he became the Sports Director at WVEC-TV.

In 1982, he reconnected with a former high school friend, Kathy Jenkins, who he soon realized was the love of his life. They married in 1984 and were “joined at the un-hip” for 36 years. In 1993, Roger opened American Builders of Virginia, Inc., which he managed until his retirement in early 2020.

Giving and generous, Roger was a quiet servant of his God. He lived his faith through his actions. He was a cheerful, happy man whose greatest joys in life included seeing other people happy, classic rock ‘n roll (the louder, the better) and classic cars, rescuing small, furry creatures, watching the sun set over the Albermarle Sound from his back deck, and most of all, his family. He loved to laugh and was quick with a joke, sometimes appropriate, sometimes not. If a joke fell flat, he just grinned and said, “Some of these are just for me.”

Roger survived a life-threatening cancer in 1995. He and his wife (also a cancer survivor) ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 1999 to celebrate their survival and to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He became an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society, chairing the Todd Stadium Relay  For Life (Newport News) for two years and helping to create the Darling Stadium Relay For Life in Hampton for which he received the Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement from the American Cancer Society. He then spent 10 years on the road with his wife, traveling to cancer survivor events and medical and pharmaceutical conferences around the country as a keynote speaker spreading his message of fighting cancer with hope and humor and the spirit of a warrior. Like so many warriors who fall on the battlefield, Roger was taken by the very enemy he had devoted so many years to fighting.

Roger was preceded in death by his father, James Vernon Cawthon, Jr. He is survived by his mother, Gwendoline Cawthon of Newport News; his wife Kathy of Kitty Hawk, NC; two step-sons he loved as his own, Ryan Corbett of Hampton and Reid Corbett of Chesapeake; sister Mary Priddy (Bobby) of Newport News; brother Rick (Martha) of Kitty Hawk, NC; brother John (Jennie) of Elm City, NC; nieces Tina (Tom) Herbert, Amy Priddy and fiancé Wade Radcliff, Dawn (Greg) Tew, P.J. (Kyle) Stembridge, Tracy (Doug) Wennmacher, and nephew Michael Cawthon; 3 great-nieces, Gwendolyn and Adeline Herbert,  and Sydney Cawthon, and 3 great-nephews, Christopher and Nicholas Stembridge, and Caleb Wennmacher.

Roger would love to be remembered first and foremost through acts of kindness to others including total strangers. If you are so inclined, donations to charities that support children with cancer and their families, first responders who fall in the line of duty and their families, and no-kill animal shelters would also be ways in which he would have loved to be remembered.

Roger was a huge Eagles fan, and a favorite song by that band was “Hole in the World.” There is, indeed, a hole in the world tonight, and it’s shaped like Roger Cawthon.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a public gathering to celebrate Roger’s life will be held at a later date.

Twiford Funeral Homes, Outer Banks is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences and memories can be shared at www.TwifordFH.com.

Twiford Funeral Home (Outer Banks)

Colony Chapel
500 Budleigh Street, PO Box 595,
Manteo, NC 27954
Phone: (252) 473-2449
Fax: (252) 473-3392
Email: David.Twiford.Jr@TwifordFH.com

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Condolence from Lynn Cole on May 13th, 2020 5:29 pm

I am so sad to learn of Roger’s passing. We had known each other since first grade and he was always the most genuine and enthusiastic person in any room. He fought the good fight for a very long time and now he can rest. Kathy, you’ll be in my prayers.

Condolence from Kelly S. Ward on May 13th, 2020 6:13 pm

My heart is heavy as I think of you moving forward without your true love by your side. I hope the wonderful memories you have with Roger begin to patch the aching hole in your heart. Please count me among your friends who will help you navigate the next steps.

Condolence from Debi McNichol on May 13th, 2020 7:28 pm

Dear Kathy, Please know I am praying for you and the family. Beautifully written story of Roger’s life. I am happy to have known him.

Condolence from Sabrina Burbanck on May 14th, 2020 9:20 am

I am so sorry to hear of Rogers passing. I’ll be praying for all of his family and friends but especially you.

Condolence from Greg Brauer on May 14th, 2020 10:01 am

On behalf of WVEC-TV, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to Kathy and the rest of Roger’s family and friends. Many of his co-workers during his career in television, including myself, are still at Channel 13. We all remember his wonderful fun-loving personality which will be missed.

Condolence from Linda Greaver on May 14th, 2020 10:08 am

Such a beautiful tribute to a special FHS classmate …. RIP Roger and prayers for his family …

Condolence from Carolyn Sexton on May 14th, 2020 10:10 am

Oh, Kathy! I’m so sorry to hear about Roger, but so glad that you will one day get to see him again. Know that you are loved and just an email away from whatever you need! I’ll be praying for you.

Condolence from Sharon Holsomback on May 14th, 2020 10:23 am

My heart breaks for Roger’s family and friends. What a wonderful.friend, husband, Dad, all around great guy. Heaven has gained another Angel that will greatly be missed. Godspeed friend.

Condolence from Susan Spirn Zander on May 14th, 2020 5:08 pm

RIP my old friend. What a life he had and what a difference he made.

Condolence from Art Bartlett on May 14th, 2020 5:14 pm

Our prayers go out to Kathy and her family.
I worked in the WVEC Engineering Dept, supporting news operation. Yes, I know how Roger enjoyed pulling pranks and a good laugh. He would banter and tease this old retired Navy Chief.
My, how he loved his job.
I remember Roger either in cowboy boots of flip-flops, even when on the air in the studio. On camera he was full of confidence and poise , even though behind the ‘desk’ he was wearing short pants and flip-flops. On one occurrence while he was on the air ‘someone’ got behind the desk and pulled at the hairs on his leg. he did not even blink, but kept right on going as if nothing happened. After the show he thought it clever and funny. I guess he was not going to let affect his presentation, but he would get his turn. Yes, he did and we had a great laugh over it ( and this trick was never repeated).
Roger was class act and I sad to see him leave the station.

Condolence from Steve McCaskill on May 14th, 2020 5:19 pm

Roger and I were friends in elementary school and reconnected in high school. Always had time to talk and share memories. I am so very sorry to hear of his passing.

Condolence from Tom Williams on May 14th, 2020 5:46 pm

I remember Roger and our times at WVEC. I truly enjoyed working with him and he will be missed but not forgotten by many … Rest well my friend

Condolence from Diane Buchanan on May 14th, 2020 6:13 pm

Oh, Kathy, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your family is in my prayers.

Condolence from Deb Smith on May 14th, 2020 6:42 pm

You will be missed by family and friends. Kathy please feel free to contact me if I can help you in any way.
Deb Smith

Condolence from Janet Lockstampfor on May 14th, 2020 7:54 pm

Cawthon Family & Friends.
Last time I saw Roger he was speaking at the ACS at Todd’s Stadium. Great memory, wonderful man, class mate. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.2 Timothy 4:7
You are all in my prayer.

Condolence from Harry Knight on May 14th, 2020 8:51 pm

God Bless Roger…he was a great friend and teammate back in the day at Ferguson High School in Newport News. He was a great supporter of me during my professional sports career. I am saddened to hear of his passing. Condolences to all of his family.

Condolence from Wilburn Williamson on May 14th, 2020 9:09 pm

I know your heart is heavy at this most difficult time. All at Ferguson HS JUST LOVED ROGER!
Whether it was on stage, in the classroom or on the football field he was always leading. Roger was special. He was a winner who gave all he had at whatever he attempted.
My heart hurts for not reaching out to Roger over the years however I thought of Roger many times as on occasions I would let my mind take me back to the days at FHS. Roger and I were Co-Captains of the Football Team our senior year. I will always remember his leadership and ability on the field.
Roger Always wanted what was best for the team.
No “I” in Roger it was “WE” all about the team.
I could go on and on with stories. I pray that you will find some comfort knowing Roger is at peace.
God Bless you and your family,
Wilburn Williamson

Condolence from Pat Maehr on May 14th, 2020 9:46 pm

I am so sorry to hear this news. You and Roger gave such hope and laughter to cancer survivors everywhere. Your enthusiasm and support for Relay For Life made my life and all our fellow Relayers better for your presence and love.

Condolence from John McMurray on May 15th, 2020 7:19 pm

So sorry to learn of Roger’s passing. My deepest sympathy to all the family.
I was a West Point classmate of Roger’s, and appreciate his many attributes and accomplishments. I salute both Roger and Kathy for their work over many years in battling cancer. Roger served both Nation and Community. Well Done.

John McMurray
USMA, ’75

Condolence from Chess Harris on May 16th, 2020 11:33 pm

Kathy. We are so saddened with Rogers passing. Yes, a Hole in the Wall is a great metaphor to describe the loss, for all of us.

Please keep us all posted on internment plans.

We too are down here on the OBX, up at Nags Head.

Courage and Drive!

Chess and Karen Harris
MP 11.5
USMA Class 75

Condolence from Kathy Howard on May 17th, 2020 4:18 pm

Very sad to read about his passing.
Thoughts and prayers to the family. I first met Mr and Mrs Cawthon while working as a scheduling coordinator at a physicians office on Newport News.

Condolence from Susan L Johnson on May 17th, 2020 6:17 pm

Kathy, Ryan and Reid, Know our prayers. May your happy memories comfort and sustain you. Peace, Sue and John Johnson

Condolence from Charlie Poure on May 17th, 2020 8:15 pm

Kathy, it’s been nearly 50 years ago that I met Roger. We were roommates for a while during our first (plebe) year at West Point. I remember he always had a song. I remember him then as always outgoing, save for those moments of terror inspired by our company tactical officer at the time. Roger was kind, thoughtful, funny and someone who had a big heart. It’s sad to know he has gone.

My heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

Condolence from Mark E Lewis on May 18th, 2020 10:46 am

Sad days during sad times. I echo Wilburns’ sentiments. I too am a high school classmate and fellow teammate of Roger. I have nothing but fond memories of our time together.

His smile, his wit, his enthusiasms, his positive attitude, his support, his joking, his leadership.

There are those that are a contribution to society and Roger was a member and epitomized this trait. Mankind needs more people like Roger.

We are all a little less inside due to his passing. I know I am. May you one day find peace and happiness in Roger’s memory. I wish you and yours strength during this difficult time.

Condolence from William L. Conner on May 18th, 2020 2:06 pm

Roger and I were West Point roommates first semester Plebe year. Before that we all “enjoyed” New Cadet Training, aka “Beast Barracks” during the summer of 1970. At the conclusion of this training, just before Labor Day we new cadets were given a few days R&R at Lake Frederick, culminating in a talent show. Roger was one of the main elements, writing sketches, directing numbers and singing lead. I think the song was “Get Ready” by the Four Tops. Anyway he had a good singing voice. I will always remember Roger Plebe year for his exuberance.

Bill Conner, Colonel (retired)

Condolence from Joan Barnhart Hughes on May 18th, 2020 4:00 pm

Always had such a beautiful smile! Your kind heart will be missed!

Condolence from Kelly Scott on May 27th, 2020 1:39 pm

My husband had the honor of serving as Roger’s Tactical Officer during his middle years at West Point. He was always a favorite! Even spent a few weeks sequestered in our basement studying summer of ‘74. I am so sorry for your loss. I wanted you to know how proud (not at all surprised!) we both are of the man he became!! This is the last picture I took of Roger. From what I have gleaned , that smile charmed many more in the ensuing years!! ! The flyer was made to share with the E4 classmates last year, truly missed being unable to share with Roger. I hope you can smile seeing him here. Again, praying for peace and grace for your family!

Condolence from Bill Fox on June 9th, 2020 5:44 pm

I was saddened to hear about Roger. We go back to USMA days. I recall being at Ft Gordon and turning on the TV for late night sports. The voice I immediately knew was Roger. I called the station and we talked for hours. Next, years later I am in Hampton watching the sports and there is Roger! Very cool! I’ll miss him!

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