It was like the real life version of the Brady Bunch, only with more kids.
After losing his first wife when she was 35 years old to a heart ailment, Frank Rodgers was left to raise their three sons and two daughters on his own. To deal with his grief, he helped start a group for widows and widowers. It was there that he met Kathleen Sinnott, one of the group’s founding members whose spouse had also died of a heart ailment. She too, had five young children: three girls and two boys, all around the same age as Rodgers’.
The two married in 1974, combining their families into a Huntington home.
“He would tell people his family was everything to him,” said his son Daniel Rodgers. “It’s extraordinary to think he took on five more children. It was everyone in the same house and it was crazy.”
“Raising five kids is tough, 10 is hard to imagine,” he added. “People all the time would say, you were the Brady Bunch. I would say not quite. The comparisons were there.”
Rodgers died Friday, June 19 of natural causes. An elevator repairman, Rodgers was 84 years old.
Rodgers was born Oct. 10, 1935, in Mayo, Ireland, where he grew up poor. He was raised by his grandmother in a stone house on the side of a mountain. He moved to Flushing Heights to live with his parents when he was 11, going on to attend West Point for two years and graduate from Pratt Institute.
He married Maureen Rodgers in 1955 and they moved to New Hyde Park. They joined a group at their church called Marriage Encounter, which was the basis for the widow and widowers group that Rodgers and Sinnott would later help start.
Kathleen Sinnott Hackett was 4 when her mother married Rodgers. He always tried to steer his children toward making good choices, Hackett said, but also gave them the freedom to find their own way.
“He was a great role model, always a source of reality and sensibility throughout my grade school and high school years,” said Hackett. “He was very grounded and never overreacted … He wanted to understand where we were coming from and have a discourse about it.”
As the family’s sole provider, he was a “workhorse,” Daniel said, commuting daily to the city on the LIRR to work as an elevator repairman. He would come home after a long day covered in grease and soot, but always ready to spend time with his children. In his free time, he loved to read and run. He ran in one of the first New York City Marathon races in canvas Chuck Taylor high top sneakers by Converse.
Later in life, he became a successful day trader.
“I know it was for him mentally, but he did it for all of us,” said Hackett. “It was always with the mindset he wanted to take care of us.”
Hackett is survived by his 10 children: James Sinnott, Kevin Rodgers, Daniel Rodgers, Eileen Sinnott Barrall, Noreen Rodgers, Patti Rodgers Wendell, Patty Sinnott Truhart, John Sinnott, Kathleen Sinnott Hackett, and Dennis Rodgers, as well as 22 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His first wife, Maureen Rodgers, predeceased him in 1972. Sinnott predeceased him in 2014. A service is planned for the fall, family members said.