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XII Travelers

Isha R. & Steve Santamaria,
in memory of Dede Rogers*,

Feb-Apr2009 213 (2) (1).jpg

Who says you can’t go home again? Louise Beach “Dede” Rogers did, returning to her native El Paso after graduating from SMU, working as a journalist, and owning her own professional racing team, DSTP Motorsports (standing for Don’t Spend The Principal, her dad’s advice when she received her inheritance). Dede moved to the penthouse of the Fairmont Apartments on the corner of Stanton and Rim, where she enjoyed spacious views of three states and two countries. Dede lived expansively, and El Paso didn’t hem her in. Though she traveled to every corner of the world, she always returned home.


From her balcony, Dede saw Mount Franklin, with Murchison Rogers Park at its southern tip. Louise Beach Murchison, her grandmother and namesake, gifted the land to El Paso; her sister, Isha Rogers Santamaria, has plans to redesign it. Where Scenic Drive turns into Rim Road, Dede also saw the house her parents built on Dede Lane before her father became El Paso’s four-time mayor (brother Jonny and his wife, Lory, live there now). A Yale classmate of George H.W. Bush from Connecticut, Jonathan Rogers was stationed at Fort Bliss, and met Patricia Murchison, a former Sun Queen, on a blind date. With a humor Dede would inherit, Jonathan told his four children – Jonny, Dede, Isha and Mac – that all worked out when he popped the question because “your mom wasn’t wearing her glasses!” He was founder, chairman and CEO of WestStar Bank.


Dede remained a proud Tiger of El Paso High School – the 1916 Henry Trost-designed “temple on the hill” – where she graduated in 1975. It stood out as an icon from her balcony. She made lifelong friends dubbed “the cha-chas” there, who gathered once a year for fun and fellowship. Dede planned to take them all to a place she loved in South Africa the year she died. As Sallie Baggett, one “cha-cha,” said: “Dede died doing what she loved most in life, being out with her friends.”


Dede’s widespread philanthropy was legendary, including UTEP, St. Clement’s School, the YWCA, El Paso Museum of History, El Paso Museum of Art, Tom Lea Institute, and many, many others. As sister Isha said, if you want to hear about Dede’s causes, “you better pull up a chair.”

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