May 18, 2021

Community mourns death of Franklin Mayor Joel Rogers

(Franklin, GA) — The death of Mayor Joel Rogers leaves more than just a vacancy in Franklin City government.

Those who knew Joel W. Rogers believe his passing leaves a hole in Heard County after a lifetime of public service.

Mr. Rogers passed away Sunday at age 69 after a battle with cancer and other recent health issues.

His passing came during his eighth year of service as Mayor and his 19th year of service to the City of Franklin.

He was first elected as a member of the City Council in 2001 and was sworn into office in January of 2002.

Mr. Rogers also leaves a lasting legacy at Heard County High School where he served the students in many varied roles from 1981 until 2013.

He attended Carroll Tech where he earned a Certificate in Automotive Mechanics in 1969, and was a member of the school’s first graduating class.

He was drafted into the US Army and served his country honorably from 1970 – 1971. He was stationed in Germany with the Service Battery, 2’nd Battalion, 41’st Artillery.

After marrying the love of his life, the late Pamela Elaine Denney, Rogers accepted a position as the construction teacher at Heard County High School in 1981.

He would sponsor Heard High’s Vocational Industrial Clubs of America chapter for many years, and was also instrumental in Heard County athletics where he coached football, basketball, and golf.

Mr. Rogers was nominated to be the High School Athletic Director in 2002 and served in that role until his retirement from education in 2013. The highlight of his tenure as Athletic Director was being named as the 2011 Class AA Athletic Director of the Year.

The Heard Citizen reached out to several members of the local community who were eager to respond and share fond memories about their longtime friend and colleague in addition to heartfelt condolences for his family.

“I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to have known Mr. Rogers for over 25 years. He positively impacted countless lives as an educator and elected official, including my own,” said Franklin Police Chief Kevin Hannah. “Not only was he a wonderful boss, he was also an amazing friend. We have lost a great man that loved his country, community, family, and friends.”

Chief Hannah says Rogers was especially good to all of the city employees through his many years of public service.

“The employees of the City of Franklin are grateful for the support provided by Mr. Rogers over the many years that he served as an elected official. After being elected as Mayor, he would visit the police department most days and always made sure that nothing was needed before leaving,” adds Chief Hannah.

“Not having those visits over the past few weeks has been heartbreaking for our work family, and although we all know that he is in a better place, it doesn’t change how much he is missed. As we mourn his loss, we are reminded of all the good that he has brought to the community. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with his family.”

City Councilman Bo Almond served on the Franklin city council with Rogers for almost 20 years and says he is thankful for that time.

“I will always cherish my time served on the council with Joel. While we may not have always agreed on everything, I am thankful we always remained friends when we left the council meetings. I’d like to think that we both made each other better councilmen,” said Councilman Almond. “I know Joel’s got an Angel up in Heaven in his late wife Ms. Pam and I know she’s waiting on his arrival.”

Outside of the City of Franklin, the loss is especially difficult in the Heard County School System where Rogers spent over 30 years of his life as an educator and leader.

“The Heard County School System lost a valued member of the Brave Nation and our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Joel Rogers,” states Superintendent Rodney Kay. “Joel served our children for three decades and always did it with grace and a true servant’s heart. He impacted so many children over his tenure as a teacher, coach and athletic director. We are so thankful for the career of the gentleman that blessed our system for so many years and he will be missed dearly.”

Rogers was known as a person that always loved Heard County and was especially a proud member of the Brave Nation where even after his retirement from education he was always on hand to support the Brave Nation sports programs.

He leaves behind two sons, Jared and Jake, and the most special person in his life — his beloved grandson, A.J. — a current sophomore on the Braves football team.

Heard High Head football coach Tim Barron is thankful for the support Rogers would always show to his team through the years, especially on ‘Friday Nights in Franklin.’

“Joel was so proud of what Heard County has accomplished over the years. He was always on our sidelines in his usual spot. He would always greet us coaches as we walked on the field. I will never walk by his spot and not think of his love for Heard County,” said Barron. “Although he was proud of his role of building Heard County Athletics, nothing made him more proud than watching his grandson. Please please put Joel’s family and A.J. in your prayers.”

Mayor Rogers with his grandson and current Brave football player A.J. Rogers

Heard County Sheriff Ross Henry was quick to compliment the job his friend did as the civic leader of Franklin.

“Joel was a great friend. I always enjoyed working with him at the school and especially as the Mayor of Franklin. We always worked well together on city and county issues. I will miss my friend on the sidelines during football season. May God Bless his family,” said Sheriff Henry.

Shane Lasseter, Rogers’ successor as Athletic Director at HCHS, says the community may never fully comprehend all that Rogers did for the Heard County athletics program.

“Mr. Rogers was a man of many trades and talents. Heard County residents, students, coaches, and me personally probably will never fully understand the impact he made on this place. It seems fitting to use a construction reference when describing Mr. Rogers since he spent so many years teaching the trade to countless kids,” says Lasseter.

“Joel laid the foundation for the quality program that we all love and appreciate. As athletic director, he improved facilities, improved the staff, and pushed everyone to provide the best to the kids. Many successful teams and top of the line facilities were made possible by his persistence and the strong foundation that was laid,” Lasseter states.

“It is natural for others to take on the traits of the leader and the program has adopted many of Joel’s traits such as loyalty, work ethic, dedication, courage, and pride. The school is one of the main sources of pride for many in Heard County, and Mr. Rogers hands helped to shape it into what it is today.”

Lasseter says he also owes a lot of personal gratitude to Mr. Rogers.

“From every angle I am thankful for all he has done for us — and for me personally. As the AD he set me up for success. As a resident of the county he made this a better place to live. As an alumni he helped to make it a place to be proud that I attended. As a Dad he helped to guide this to be a place I want my kids to be a part of, and that is the greatest compliment I know how to give. He was loved and will be dearly missed.”

Funeral services for Mayor Rogers will be conducted Wednesday, February 26 at 2:00 PM from the chapel of Stutts Funeral Home with Rev. Ron Capes and Mr. Durrell Langley officiating. Interment will follow in Franklin City Cemetery. The family will accept guests at Stutts Funeral Home Wednesday from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

On special approval from the Georgia Governor’s Office, the flags in front of the Franklin Police Station are flying at half mast until Rogers is taken to his final resting place. That final resting place will be alongside his beloved wife — and appropriately in the Franklin City Cemetery right alongside Staples Stadium and Heard County High School.

In gratitude for his years of service to the citizens of Franklin, the city council recently renamed the council chambers in the new city hall ‘Joel W. Rogers Municipal Courtroom’ in his honor.

Rogers was largely instrumental in the construction and oversight of the beautiful new City Hall building located on the square in Franklin.

Franklin City Hall will be closed all day Wednesday so that friends and coworkers can attend the funeral services for Mayor Rogers.


  1. He will be greatly missed! He was my wood shop teacher all 4 years of high school! He loved all his kids that came through his classes and wanted to see all of the succeed! Even after I graduated high school when he would see me out I would get the biggest hug from him!

    • Stacie (Toney) Denham says

      I really don’t mean to go on and on in these comments but I will tell you this…..whenever I pass through Franklin on the way to Newnan and may stop at some store and see some up and comer WAY younger than me, or known of someone not here before me… I always have always thought that haha. I was here first. This was my town. Na na na na na. But obviously there were plenty of people here before me. Born in 1974 and raised here. Just call me a proud past Heard Countian.

  2. Stacie Denham says He was one of my favorite teachers at HCHS in the 90’s. I remember making a shelf and I did have a bit of a hard time with it. But he was so patient with all of us. God bless you. Love, Stacie Toney c/o 1993!

  3. Stacie (Toney) Denham says Just look at that sign at the beginning of the video that says OLD HWY 27. Lord bless it. It might have been a sign from way on up the road of 27 I suppose. But if you knew Mr. Joel… knew of the old hwy 27. Lord bless it. Yeah that was my town. It is our town.

  4. Stacie (Toney) Denham says

    Hehe. Actually it said OLD US 27. But I read it as OLD HWY 27. Because.

  5. Stacie (Toney) Denham says

    I really don’t mean to go on and on in these comments but I will tell you this…..whenever I pass through Franklin on the way to Newnan and may stop at some store and see some up and comer WAY younger than me, or known of someone not here before me… I always have always thought that haha. I was here first. This was my town. Na na na na na. But obviously there were plenty of people here before me. Born in 1974 and raised here. Just call me a proud past Heard Countian.

  6. Stacie (Toney) Denham says

    One more….lol. Well (h)well….I am from Heard County by the way. There is always room for one more. I think this is a perfect song.And also speaks of our past teachers. Mr. Joel being one of them among many. Never forget.

    • Stacie (Toney) Denham says

      I remember having a Mickey Mouse guitar when I was around 7 years old. Lol. Then an acoustic when I was 12 I guess. Never learned to play either but later on in shop class I learned a lot from Mr. Joel. How to read a tape measure and make cuts in wood. He truly was a great Man. I will never forget him.

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