Myron Roker Takes a Special Campus Visit

Myron Roker’s son Bill kept a promise he made to his dad that if he celebrated his 100th birthday, he would take him to Milford to visit his old stomping grounds at the former Nebraska State Trade School. On Aug. 19, 2023, Myron turned 100, and on Wednesday, Oct. 25, the oldest known living graduate of SCC toured campus with Bill and his wife Pam.

“When he turned 90, he wanted to jump out of an airplane, but mom wouldn’t let him, so we gave him a hot air balloon ride instead,” said Bill Roker. “I told him, ‘you know dad, you are going to make it to 100’ and he said ‘no, no!’ When he got to 95, he took on the challenge to make it to 100. He has wanted to visit campus for a few years. I told him if he made the arrangements, I would take him to Milford, and here we are.”

Myron grew up in Clatonia, Nebraska, and joined the U.S. Army in 1943 during World War II. In 1944, he was deployed to Europe with the 324th Infantry, 44th Division, to fight on the European front in France, southern Germany and Austria.

“I went into combat in October of 1944,” Myron Roker said. “I spent 190 days in combat and 144 were without a break. It was the longest any unit had fought at that time without a break.”

After World War II ended in 1945, Roker returned to Nebraska. In January 1946, he enrolled in the Nebraska State Trade School in Milford as part of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill. This bill made a college education attainable for millions of veterans of World War II and later military conflicts.

Roker studied radio electronics while at Milford and lived on the third floor of Nebraska Hall. Classes started early in the morning and ended at 3 p.m. He became part-owner of a radio repair shop in Seward, which allowed him to practice what he was being taught in real-time.

“I would go there and work until 7 p.m. and come back to Milford for supper and go to bed,” explained Roker. “If I had a radio I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, I could bring it to school and work on it as a (class) project. I still had to figure out what was wrong with it so it worked out really good.”

He graduated in July 1947 with a From left: Shelly Tolle, Myron Roker, Ed Koster, Michelle Birkel. 8 Southeast Community College Alumni News degree in radio electronics, his wife Viola and a newborn son, William. They moved to Clatonia where Roker put in the second cable TV system in Nebraska. The first system was in Falls City.

“They put their cable underground, so I did the same thing,” he said. “That was not a good idea as they put the sewer lines in the same area. I about went bankrupt.”

Roker moved his family, which would eventually include four sons and two daughters, to Glenwood, Iowa, to work for the pipeline. One thing he took pride in was being a graduate of what is now Southeast Community College.

“I went to work for the pipeline on Feb. 12, 1951, on (Abraham) Lincoln’s birthday,” Roker said. “I worked there for 35 years, and 90% of the repair technicians and communications department came from Milford. I was proud of that.”

SCC Vice President for Research, Planning and Technology Ed Koster, Career Services Specialist Shelly Tolle, and SCC Educational Foundation Director Michelle Birkel took the Rokers to Nebraska Hall as well as the Precision Machining and Automation Technology, Building Construction, Electrical & Electromechanical Technology, and Electronic Systems Technology programs. Myron was impressed with all the changes happening at SCC. He is particularly interested in the Nebraska Hall project and wants to ride the elevator to see his third-floor room once the renovations are completed. He is penciled in to be at the ribbon cutting ceremony in 2025.

“It looks like dad has another challenge,” joked Bill Roker. “If he is able to make it, I will bring him.”

Jennifer Snyder
Communications Specialist