Rodger C. Janssen, a retired Maryland Highway Administration transportation manager and former longtime member of the Baltimore County Board of Education, died March 17 of respiratory failure at Good Samaritan Hospital. The Parkville resident was 71.
“Rodger was certainly friendly but not gregarious. He was a very pleasant personality to have on the board,” said Larry E. Schmidt, a lawyer who was the board of education president from 2011 to 2014. “He was deliberate and reflective, and would hear all points of view and would not rush to a decision. He was a good man. He was always square with you.”
Edward J. Gillis of Towson, who was board president from 2017 to 2018, and is a partner in the law firm of Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid LLP, said: “Rodger was a seasoned board veteran when I joined the board in 2013. He was a kind of stable influence who was focused on education and not politics. He was a man of the people and I say that positively and he represented Baltimore County well."
Rodger Conrad Janssen, son of Walter Janssen, a Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. worker, and his wife, Henrietta Janssen, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Parkville.
A 1967 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, he earned an associate’s degree in construction management from the Community College of Baltimore.
He began his career in 1970 working for the old State Roads Commission that became the State Highway Administration and a division of the state Department of Transportation the following year, as an engineering associate II. He subsequently held positions as an engineering technician, engineering specialist and transportation engineer from 2001 to 2005.
He spent the last 16 years of his nearly 50-year career as a transportation engineering manager in facilities construction before retiring in 2017 from the Maryland Transportation Authority.
Mr. Janssen maintained a lifelong interest in education and had served on the PTAs of his two daughters’ Parkville schools. He also had been a member for 12 years and vice president of the PTA Council of Baltimore County, and also held life memberships in both the national and state PTA organizations.
In 2004, Mr. Janssen was appointed to the Baltimore County Board of Education and was its vice president from 2006 to 2007, and served on the policy review committee from 2005 to 2011.
He was a member of the board’s ethics committee from 2007 to 2008, and later was a member of the building and contracts committee, and served as a member of its audit committee beginning in 2004, and its chairman in 2008.
“Rodger was one of the most conscientious board members it was my pleasure to work with, and he always put the interests of the students above all else," said Mr. Schmidt, a Timonium resident.
“He was always prepared for meetings and discussions, and had done his homework. He listened to divergent points of view and would always ask, ‘What’s the best thing we can do?’ He served the system very, very well. Baltimore County public schools are in a better place today because of the tireless efforts of Rodger Janssen.”
Said Mr. Gillis: “Rodger was contemplative. He was not gregarious or stodgy, but reflective. When he spoke you knew that he had thought about what he wanted to say.”
David Uhlfelder, a Pikesville CPA, was board president from 2015 to 2016.
“Rodger was a member and later chairman of the audit committee when I was appointed to the board in 2008 and later the audit committee, and he was fantastic,” Mr. Uhlfelder said. “He did a great job, and I can’t say enough about his leadership. We had a great relationship, and we got along and remained friends. He was just fantastic.
“Rodger was a solid thinker and he could think in depth, and didn’t stop at his first thought —, he kept on going. He had such a good mind.”
In conjunction with his work with the county school board, Mr. Janssen held positions with the Maryland Association of Boards of Education. He was a member of MABE’s Resolution Committee, beginning in 2005, and was its chairman from 2007 to 2011. He also had served as a member of its nominating committee and joined the organization’s board in 2007 and was president in 2012.
Additionally, he was secretary-treasurer of the National School Board’s Association BuyBoard since its inception in 2010.
“Even though MABE was a volunteer job that took additional time and meant going to Annapolis, it gave Rodger a statewide role and reinforced his commitment to public education,” Mr. Gillis said.
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Mr. Janssen was a supporter of Kids Helping Hopkins.
An avid fisherman, Mr. Janssen enjoyed both freshwater and saltwater angling and especially liked fishing trips with his brother and friends to Canada, Maine and Virginia. He also was a wildlife photographer and worked from a darkroom in his Parkville home, and raised angelfish on his home aquarium
“He was a great man, and taught us through his actions how to live with purpose,” said his daughter, L. Dawn Hopp of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Plans for a celebration of life gathering are incomplete.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Janssen is survived by his wife of 46 years, the former Linda Marie Korpman; another daughter, Renee N. Cross of Sykesville; a brother, Paul Janssen of Arnold; and five grandchildren.