Roger, born in Teaneck, NJ, was preceded in death by his parents, Helen (Komninos) Colwell and Charles (Harry) Harrison Colwell. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Elsie, and daughter, Gail Siegel (husband John); also by his sister Karen Mavus (husband Richard), nephew Brian Mavus and niece, Kim (Mavus) Bigham; aunt, Sibyl (Komninos) Sharp, as well as numerous cousins, grand nieces, and a great grand nephew.
One of Roger’s favorite childhood amusements was his play store, which presaged his life-long interest in the retail business. His first job was as seasonal help at Bamberger’s department store, the Macy’s New Jersey subsidiary. When he graduated from The University at Buffalo, he worked at Hengerer’s department store to support his bride as she completed her degree. Soon, though, they moved to New Jersey where he become an assistant buyer at Bamberger’s. Several of his subsequent jobs necessitated frequent visits to the garment district in NYC where he made many valuable contacts. In fact, he was quite proud of having his own key to the men’s room of the Empire State Building. A job offer from a Texas company brought Roger and his family to the Houston suburbs. Soon his entrepreneurial spirit caused him to strike out on his own to become an independent manufacturers’ representative in the menswear industry, where he had fun traveling and showing samples to retail buyers in a four-state territory.
Roger had a great zest for life and made friends easily, as evidenced by his lasting friendship with his college roommate, with whom he kept in touch by frequent phone calls and numerous visits to the west coast. When Roger and his family moved to Houston in 1974, he and Elsie became fast friends with several of their neighbors, friendships that last to this day. Many were the happy backyard pool parties with neighbors, friends and family, with Roger flipping the burgers and hotdogs. The kids all knew not to tip Uncle Roger’s beer over or get his cowboy hat wet! Family gatherings for holidays were the norm with Roger presiding at the dining table. When it became time for landmark high school reunions, he delighted in helping to locate old classmates and going back to New Jersey to reunite with old friends and make new ones.
His passion for music, both classical and rock, meant that his and Elsie’s home was always filled with music of one type or another. First, he amassed quite a collection of symphonic music and rock music on vinyl, then on CD, and in more recent years on iTunes. Then he discovered streaming internet radio, delighting in listening to favorite stations from across the world. Of course, he upgraded equipment as necessary, a project which appealed to his interest in technology. Since he believed any really great city should have an orchestra, he was a supporter of the Houston Symphony.
Roger saw very early the possibility to utilize computer technology in business and was an early adopter of home computing. He visualized and, with the help of a neighbor, realized his goal of using his kit-assembled, DOS-based computer to produce sales letters that looked like they were individually typewritten—a nigh on to magical accomplishment in the 1970s. This enabled him to use mass mailings to both increase his business and diminish the need for increasingly difficult business travel.
Before traveling became too difficult due to his increasingly bad health, the family had some lovely vacations to Colonial Williamsburg, the west coast and western Canada. He and Elsie even managed to visit some European destinations and made several trips to Hawaii. After retirement, though, Roger could most often be found in his comfy recliner with his laptop in his lap, listening to streaming classical music and researching the latest developments in technology, computing or aviation.
Roger will be remembered as a devoted husband, loving father and loyal friend. Above all, he loved all his family whether near or far. He rejoiced at their triumphs and sympathized with their sorrows. Even as his health deteriorated, he never lost hope or complained and fought valiantly to remain in this world and with the people he loved.
The family would like to thank the good physicians, nurses, therapists and aides at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center for their compassionate care of Roger through many lifesaving procedures over the past 39 years.
A funeral service will be held at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1805 W Alabama St, Houston TX 77098, on Saturday November 6, at 11:00 am.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to either Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center or St Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
Baylor St Luke's Medical Center
1101 Bates Avenue, Houston TX 77030
St Stephen's Episcopal Church
1805 W. Alabama Street, Houston TX 77098