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A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

In the warm embrace of loving family members, Roger Edward Cawthon, 67, departed this world on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at his home in Kitty Hawk, NC. He was born June 12, 1952, in Newport News, VA, where he spent what he always referred to as a “joyful childhood.” He graduated from Ferguson High School (NN) and received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from which he graduated in 1975.

He served in the United States Army before going to work for Ford Motor Company as a design and test engineer. Soon, however, Roger’s love of sports, his exuberant personality, writing skills, gift for visual imagery and broadcast-quality voice led him to a career as a sportscaster at the then-brand new CNN in Atlanta, GA. His broadcasting career provided unique opportunities that became some of the highlights of his life: he played a round of golf with the legendary Jack Nicklaus, boxed a few rounds (very few, he always emphasized) with heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, and partied with James Brown, even getting to sing “Proud Mary” onstage once with the iconic “Godfather of Soul.” Wanting to be closer to family and friends in his hometown, he moved back to Hampton Roads in 1981 where he became the Sports Director at WVEC-TV.

In 1982, he reconnected with a former high school friend, Kathy Jenkins, who he soon realized was the love of his life. They married in 1984 and were “joined at the un-hip” for 36 years. In 1993, Roger opened American Builders of Virginia , Inc., which he managed until his retirement in early 2020.

Giving and generous, Roger was a quiet servant of his God. He lived his faith through his actions. He was a cheerful, happy man whose greatest joys in life included seeing other people happy, classic rock ‘n roll (the louder, the better) and classic cars, rescuing small, furry creatures, watching the sun set over the Albermarle Sound from his back deck, and most of all, his family. He loved to laugh and was quick with a joke, sometimes appropriate, sometimes not. If a joke fell flat, he just grinned and said, “Some of these are just for me.”

Roger survived a life-threatening cancer in 1995. He and his wife (also a cancer survivor) ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 1999 to celebrate their survival and to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He became an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society, chairing the Todd Stadium Relay  For Life (Newport News) for two years and helping to create the Darling Stadium Relay For Life in Hampton for which he received the Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement from the American Cancer Society. He then spent 10 years on the road with his wife, traveling to cancer survivor events and medical and pharmaceutical conferences around the country as a keynote speaker spreading his message of fighting cancer with hope and humor and the spirit of a warrior. Like so many warriors who fall on the battlefield, Roger was taken by the very enemy he had devoted so many years to fighting.

Roger was preceded in death by his father, James Vernon Cawthon, Jr. He is survived by his mother, Gwendoline Cawthon of Newport News; his wife Kathy of Kitty Hawk, NC; two step-sons he loved as his own, Ryan Corbett of Hampton and Reid Corbett of Chesapeake; sister Mary Priddy (Bobby) of Newport News; brother Rick (Martha) of Kitty Hawk, NC; brother John (Jennie) of Elm City, NC; nieces Tina (Tom) Herbert, Amy Priddy and fiancé Wade Radcliff, Dawn (Greg) Tew, P.J. (Kyle) Stembridge, Tracy (Doug) Wennmacher, and nephew Michael Cawthon; 3 great-nieces, Gwendolyn and Adeline Herbert,  and Sydney Cawthon, and 3 great-nephews, Christopher and Nicholas Stembridge, and Caleb Wennmacher.

Roger would love to be remembered first and foremost through acts of kindness to others including total strangers. If you are so inclined, donations to charities that support children with cancer and their families, first responders who fall in the line of duty and their families, and no-kill animal shelters would also be ways in which he would have loved to be remembered.

Roger was a huge Eagles fan, and a favorite song by that band was “Hole in the World.” There is, indeed, a hole in the world tonight, and it’s shaped like Roger Cawthon.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a public gathering to celebrate Roger’s life will be held at a later date.

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#14 Angela Herring 2020-05-24 14:28
I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks for all the good work and lives you touched through Relay for Life and others.
#13 Mary Saylor 2020-05-22 14:05
The comment in Roger’s obit that he was a “quiet servant of God” is so true. I remember when our church in Roger’s Hampton neighborhood conducted a food drive by leaving empty grocery bags on neighbors’ porches and then returning a week later to collect food donations. Not only did the Cawthons fill the grocery bag but they also included a very generous check. Roger’s passing leaves a big hole in our earthly community.
#12 Steven Kirkpatrick 2020-05-22 13:21
I worked with Roger at American Builders for about two years; we had been friends for several years before that. He was fun, thoughtful, and very generous. I just can't believe he's gone. I will miss him terribly.
#11 John Lewis 2020-05-21 14:08
I am so sorry to hear of Roger’s passing. We played football together at Ferguson and were friends throughout those years. He was always smiling and joking no matter what the circumstances. I will always remember him as my friend.
#10 Sarah Brown 2020-05-19 11:47
[quote name="Sarah Brown"Kathy, we haven’t seen each other in forever, but I do have fond memories of working with you and attending your wedding to Roger. I am saddened to learn of his death. May beautiful memories comfort you and give you peace. Prayers for you and your family.
#9 Sarah Brown 2020-05-18 19:51
Kathy, we haven’t seen each other in forever, Utah I do have fond memories of working with you and attending your wedding to Roger. I am saddened to learn of his death. May beautiful memories comfort you and give you peace. Prayers for you and your family.
#8 Albert Burckard 2020-05-18 19:47
Claudia and I will always remember Roger for his kindness and caring. We were struggling with repairs to our recently purchased (1985) old farmhouse (1875) in Carrollton. Roger rescued us by giving us an extremely good deal on expensive siding. I've always assumed Roger took a huge loss on this. When he came to give us an estimate, we bonded because my wife and I had attended his USMA graduation although we did not know each other at the time. We have always remembered Roger's generosity and friendliness as one of the reasons we enjoy living in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Rest in peace Roger, you have made many people happy!
#7 Belinda Risher 2020-05-18 15:26
Dear Kathy, I have such fond, happy memories of the two of you giving your Cancer Survivor presentation at Sentara! It was funny, charming and full of hope, just like Roger. He will be deeply missed. I hope you are surrounded by love. Sending you healing thoughts and prayers.
#6 Evan Johnson 2020-05-18 13:52
Dear Kathy & Cawthon Family,

I am so very sorry to hear of Roger's passing. He was a great, thoughtful guy. Will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time...
#5 Pam Hale Johnson 2020-05-17 16:32
My deepest condolences to all who loved him. He was a wonderful man.
#4 Dan Reese 2020-05-17 16:26
I was stage emcee for Relay for Life at Todd Stadium 11 years. Knew Roger & Kathy well. A wonderful, generous & remarkable couple. When you got to know Roger, you had a friend for life. He was the best. Give my best to Terry Zahn. I know you two have much to talk about in God's wonderful paradise. My condolences to families & friends. From Dan Reese, 2WD Radio (now retired after a 40-year career).
#3 Molly Brooks Cochran 2020-05-17 13:51
Dear Kathy and family,
I am so sorry to learn of Roger’s death. I’ll always remember that special twinkle in his eye and his terrific grin. He was a wonderful man, larger than life, with a heart even bigger. My life is richer for having known him.
My deepest sympathies to you.
#2 teko wynder 2020-05-17 10:58
Roger , your kindness and laughter will never be forgotten.May GOD bless your family.
#1 Ed Olshansky 2020-05-17 09:40
My Dear Kathy, Every time that I am at an American Cancer Society Event I think of Roger and of course you. I felt very close to the both of you as we all fought valiantly to save lives with our wonderful signature event Relay For Life. Roger will always be remembered for his Positive Energy, His Jokes, His ever present smile, his easy laugh, and his fierce belief that Cancer can be beaten with Prayer and hard work which he devoted his life to. I will miss him very much and I hope to see you again some day, Ed

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