By Mandi Donohue
On a Wednesday in early May, around 60 people gathered down by the river to celebrate the life of Scooter Rogers, the owner (along with his wife Jen) of the Mazama Store from the mid 1990’s to 2007. While I was unable to reach Jake Valentine, Scooter’s nephew, I am extremely grateful to have received an outpouring of memories and stories from locals and old friends.
From what I gather about Scooter, he was a real character— a gruff and mischievous individual with a penchant for skiing, fly fishing and catching waves. He had a huge heart for dogs. Jay Lucas, among others, describes Scooter as a “dog whisperer. I’ve never seen anybody else that has had a way with dogs like Scooter. Any dog! They would just be all over him.”
Mary Sharman remembers, “He had this great way of greeting you – a big grin filled with mischievous humor. It was infectious, the sparkle he had.” She also went on to mention, “He lived the life he loved. He made it happen.”
John Willett reached out to share some good memories, mentioning that he met Scooter on Bainbridge Island in his early 20’s. They were working at a local sports shop there and had been friends ever since. Their friendship continued at Crystal Mountain, where Scooter met his wife Jen while she was working on ski patrol. John says, “I had them over to Mazama to my place a few times and they fell in love with the valley.”
What could possibly be the most telling about my research is that when I asked locals if they had a memory or story to share about Scooter, more often than not they would say, “Not anything you could write in the paper!” And let me tell you, those are some stories!
“Always looking for adventure, Scooter had more ‘moments’ than most,” John says. He described an instance where he pulled a prank on his friend. “When my company was helping build their log house on Lost River Road I had a crane operator start the roof panels wrong so they would be short! Scooter was a real ‘hands on’ guy and his face and the adjectives were some of the best I have heard or seen. We had a pretty good laugh, after I took his hammer out of my rear!” John says laughing. He will miss Scooter’s “wit and adventurous spirt.”
While most know about his presence in Mazama as co-owner of the Mazama Store, what you might not remember was his major contribution to the Methow Trails system, bringing professional Nordic grooming to the valley. In hindsight, that contribution is pretty epic.
Prior to Scooter and Jen’s move to Mazama, the Nordic groomers were all self taught, “bumbling along,” as described by Mr. Lucas. He was the first person that came to work for MVSTA that had done it professionally at a big ski area (Crystal Mountain). “He really elevated our game. He kind of became our lead groomer by default as he was a bit of a perfectionist. He started teaching Lliam and Jake, and the guys that are the big shots now.”
Scooter also always went after what he was passionate about. When he and Jen moved to the valley, he had never gone fly fishing a day in his life. Very soon after this beloved introduction, he had opened a bait shop and in a short time after, he became a fly fishing guide.
One of the bakers at the Mazama Store also remembers how much he’d love it when she would put on Hawaiian roots music. “He’d just be be dreaming away when he was there.” It’s no surprise that after they sold the store they moved to Maui, and Scooter took up surfing immediately. When my husband met up with him to surf while vacationing in Maui, he said the perfectionist was gone. “He was totally different, not a care in the world.”
Everyone agrees. Somewhere out there Scooter is catching some endless curl, and on the beach is a happy Moon, patiently waiting for some love and a few scraps from his buddy.