Roger Aylworth Obituary, Death- He was a moral and honorable man. He was a caring parent and a dedicated husband. In his church, he was a pilar. He was a guide. He was a trustworthy friend. He was a classic newsman who wrote millions of words about the people, places, and events that mattered to the residents of Chico and Oroville throughout the course of his 41-year newspaper career.
Roger Aylworth, a retired reporter and editor for the Enterprise-Record and Mercury-Register, passed away peacefully on April 11 with his wife Susan and family by his side after a brief illness. “His lengthy life was remarkable. In 1981, I began working for the Enterprise-Record while still a college student. There was Roger. In 1999, I came back as editor. Former Enterprise-Record editor David Little remarked that Roger was still present. And up until his retirement in 2015, he remained a crucial member of the newsroom. He was adaptable. Every beat could and was covered by him. He was capable of penning heartbreaking news and stories.
Aylworth’s parents, Arthur and Dayle Lowe Aylworth, died in 1984 and 1993, respectively. Aylworth was born in San Francisco on July 15, 1950. He was also preceded in death by his brother, Bruce Aylworth. He penned a family-focused column for 25 years that was syndicated in over 20 newspapers across the nation. Although one newspaper that carried the column called it “Roger Dodger,” which Susan Aylworth didn’t like, she “didn’t make a fuss about,” according to Susan Aylworth. The column never had a name.
The seven children he had—six sons and one daughter—were depicted in the column, which he affectionately dubbed “widgets.” They were to blame for his car’s vanity plate, which said “NewsDad.” The essay also mentioned Susan, whom he had married on June 19, 1970, when they were both 19 years old and had met at Brigham Young University. She was referred to by his column’s readers as “Saintly Susan.” I detested “Saintly Susan” when I first heard it, remarked Susan Aylworth. He utilized it every single week for 25 years despite my warnings to never do so again.
These widely read Sunday columns inspired the publication of two books, “Senior Showers: 99 Favorite Columns” and “A Place in the Shower Schedule: 101 Favorite Columns.” Aylworth initially intended to become a history teacher when he grew up, but his high school journalism teacher convinced him otherwise. Giving knowledge to the American public was something Mr. Taylor saw as a calling, not a job, according to Aylworth in a 2015 interview. He persuaded me that it was making a real difference.
Aylworth took a roundabout route into print journalism, working as a psychiatric technician in a mental hospital, a security guard on the Bank of America bomb-hunt detail in San Francisco, and a freelance TV journalist before landing a job as an Enterprise-Record copy editor in the newsroom he called a “second home.” Before long, Aylworth started producing short stories. “Roger was the police reporter for the majority of the period I worked in the newsroom, which was from 1986 until 2000. Because of the tragedies you have to report on, it’s a beat that breaks your heart over and over again. He never lost sympathy, according to former Enterprise-Record reporter Elaine Gray. And the police adored him. He always carried donuts with him. He told a funny joke.
His kindness didn’t stop with the people whose stories he wrote. The former veteran Enterprise-Record business editor and reporter Laura Urseny recalls Aylworth’s “sincerity and support.” “On occasion, jokes were deceptive. We jokingly remarked that sometimes our journalism family was closer than our actual families, according to Urseny. “We all knew when one of us was having trouble in this business, where even the most devoted professional may get slammed. He would arrive first to offer a hug or place his hand on someone’s shoulder. Many journalists have sobbed on his shoulder, including this one.
Aylworth was remembered as a “professional, with integrity, candor, and a quick wit, which he always ‘telegraphed’ with a twinkle in his eye that he simply could not suppress,” by Emmett Pogue, a weekly freelance columnist for the Mercury-Register in the 1980s. To have known him is an honor. Aylworth spent the majority of his journalism career in Butte County working as a reporter for the Enterprise-Record, but from February 1991 until October 1997 he was the Mercury-Register’s editor. He helped his team through some trying times while serving as editor, including bringing everyone together after a U-2 spy plane crashed into the newspaper building in 1996.
The mayor of Oroville, David Pittman, declared that he “certainly was a newsman’s news editor.” “Back then, people looked to the newspaper as the official record of what happened in the city. He routinely showed up for that work. You could rely on him to deliver the record in precise form. Aylworth won multiple accolades from the California Newspaper Publisher Association throughout the course of his illustrious career. He received the Chico Icon Award in 2015. He also received official resolutions praising him for his achievements in the news business from the Butte County Board of Supervisors and the California State Senate in the same year.
Aylworth was a lifelong active member of his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he held different leadership posts, in addition to his unwavering dedication to his job and family. Aylworth is remembered as a “good dude” and “extraordinary” person by Bill Husa, a former Enterprise-Record photojournalist, who says that he “influenced and impacted those around him.” “We spent a lot of time together, had a lot of adventures, and had a lot of fun covering stories,” remarked Husa. He was among the more spiritual individuals I have met. We didn’t have the same religion, but he gave me advice. He led a fulfilling life. He significantly impacted a great number of lives, including mine. He will be greatly missed by many.
Aylworth loved to travel, and from 2010 until recently, “we stepped foot on every continent except Antarctica,” according to Susan Aylworth. “After his retirement, we traveled all over the country,” she added. The largest post-retirement adventure for the couple was working as Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints addiction treatment missionaries in the Navajo Nation Department of Corrections facilities in Kayenta and Tuba City, Arizona, from August 2017 to October 2018.
The experience of living in the Navajo Nation is completely different. In the midst of the land of plenty, you are residing in a third-world nation, Susan Aylworth declared. “Those to whom we ministered began to feel like close personal friends. I’m glad we got to spend that time together because it was fantastic. Aylworth is survived by “Saintly Susan” and their seven “widgets,” who claimed that it was fitting for their father to pass away on “411 because, dad was all about the info,” as well as 28 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Aylworth’s memorial ceremony will be place at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2430 Mariposa Ave., in Chico, on April 29 at 11 a.m., with family visitation beginning at 10 a.m.