Roger, The Tepee, and Springbrook

Most individuals would not be able to pick out the connection between the giant wood and aluminum tepee that stands stoically on Route 20 in Cherry Valley and the large learning environment of Spingbrook that sprinkles our surrounding counties with beautiful homes, schools, and community service centers. One of these was built in 1950 and has served the community as a friendly pit stop for visitors and community members alike, offering things like Native American art, moccasins, and other souvenirs. The other of these was built as an orphanage in 1925 and now serves nearly 700 people with developmental disabilities across New York State. It takes a large imagination to find the connection, but as in most good things in life, the glue that holds these two things together is the human spirit and one individual’s unique interests and talents.

That individual is Roger, 64, an enthusiastic resident at Springbrook’s Ford Avenue home in Oneonta. His parents, Kenneth and Iris, moved to New York from Nebraska and bought a farm in 1948 when Roger was only 2 years old. They built the tepee two years later as a way to appeal to the tourists and travelers that were sweeping the region. Roger remembers hundreds of people coming through his family’s business each day, adding an aspect to his life he would not have received elsewhere. He takes great pride in the fact that he helped out around the farm and shop by mowing the lawn, painting, and sawing wood. One story that Roger might tell you, with an air of modesty, is when he climbed to the top of the 50 foot tepee while helping his father paint it. Even though Rodger’s parents have long since passed away and the tepee has moved on to new owners, he still maintains a tremendous amount of passion for this historical structure.

Roger came to Springbrook in 1992 and his story will continue on April 1st of next year, when he will celebrate his 20th anniversary at Springbrook. He is a caring, warm, and generous individual with a heart for life and a mind for knowledge -- a mind so knowledgeable that he can easily list every state governor in office and comment on the intricacies of the Albany area, a region he loves to visit. The joy and enthusiasm that he has for life, the tepee, and Springbrook is hard to miss, and this region is fortunate that his family moved here more than 60 years ago.

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