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December 9, 2006

Jack Rodgers

Jack Rodgers, inventor of hydraulic sweeping, is remembered by all as an innovator and a friend.

Here is the official obituary for Jack:

Jack Rodgers was born on October 7, 1930. He went peacefully to be with the Lord on Saturday, December 9, 2006, at the age of 76. Jack will be remembered as a great man with an exceptional mind. He had a huge heart and gentle spirit. His passion for inventing was never ending.

In the mid 70's he designed and later patented the unique Nite Hawk Sweeper currently being used nationwide. His love will be missed, however, his legacy will be remembered. Jack was a loving husband and father.

He was preceded in death by his wife Shirley; and sons, Jack and Mark. He is survived by his son Ken and his wife Sandi; daughter Sherri and her husband Dennis; daugh- ter-in-law Kim; seven grand- children and four great-grandchildren. Jack adored his family and found pleasure in the simple things in life. He will be laid to rest with his wife in Redding, California. Psalm 112; 4-8

Jack was considered by many to be one of the leading innovators in the industry. As the original designer and patent holder of the hydraulic sweeper back in 1985, Jack's place in the history of power sweeping is ensured. In other, less tangible ways, his innovative designs changed the face of the parking lot sweeper industry.

Jack will be remembered as a great man with an exceptional mind. He had a huge heart and gentle spirit. Tracy Day, President of Nite-Hawk Sweepers and friend commented, "Anybody that ever met Jack couldn't help, but feel his warm and generous spirit."

Following are some of the comments we have received to date:

Mike Dyck, of Masco Sweepers, offered this in an email to our editor: "I first met 'The Old Bear,' as he liked to call himself and everyone else he met, in the '70s. I knew him best from the late '70s to the early '80s. That's when Jack was building sweepers in Redding before he sold his rights to Bob Schwarze.

"Jack was also one of the first in the industry to build a high dumping sweeper. Jack also moved to building square tank sweepers early on, as well, which most all manufacturers except us at Masco do today. From an IBM typewriter repair man to changing a complete industry has a lot to say about one person's effect on this small sweeping industry."

Mark Schwarze, son of Schwarze Industries, Inc. founder, Bob Schwarze offers: "In about 1980, Jack sold my dad, Bob, his rights to how to run a sweeper fan via power take-off. Jack would come out to our factory on occasion during that time. He was a gentle guy who was very comfortable to be around. I remember he always called me 'Big Bear.' I think he called everyone that as an easy way to not have to remember names as he traveled around.

"Jack taught me a lot about sweepers, in particular how to get the best fan performance based on the available engine horsepower. He was a very innovative person. When I first met him was right after I had gotten married, and one thing we had in common was that both of our wives were named 'Shirley.' After that, every time we talked to each other the first thing we'd each ask about was how each other's Shirley was doing.

"There was one day when Jack visited our factory that I know he probably spent some time trying to forget. He came in one day to look at sweepers, and he and my dad ended up going down to the Elks Club that night for what clearly was, for Jack, a few too many drinks. When he showed up the next day, we were supposed to work on some design ideas, but Jack was clearly, shall I say, 'under the weather.' No doubt he tried to keep up with an even larger Big Bear, my dad!

"Jack definitely made a place for himself in the history of the sweeping industry. It makes me reflective to think that I've been in sweeping for so long that we're now starting to lose some of the people who were here in the real beginning of it. Jack Rodgers was a quality individual that I'm very glad I had the opportunity to know."

Dave Valentino sent this from our contact form on the website: I never knew of the man nor the truck until 5 years ago. At a time where my own equipment was on its last leg I found a sweeper with no auxiliary motor on the rear and bought it thinking all I needed was a motor. I found out the next day it was a Nite-Hawk sweeper and it was ready to roll out the garage that night.

"That truck was and still is today a main staple of the business. Anyone who says he is no longer with us, 'is incorrect.' When that truck starts tonight and rolls out the garage he will roll with it. God bless his family and we here in Virginia offer our thanks to someone who has made this industry much easier to manage.

If you'd like to add comments and remembrances to this area, please send it to us.

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