One of the things you can’t take with you when you pass on is your story. Like earthly possessions, it can define who you are. But a story does much more than that. It remains behind to show the differences you made in other people’s lives.
Roger Grago’s story did just that for two well-known California car communities. Roger was the president of the Volkswagen car club Der Kleiner Panzers, which he helped resurrect in the 1970s. He also led the early Porsche 911 club, R Gruppe, in Southern California during its formative years in the 2000s.
Roger’s character exemplified the qualities most important to both clubs. Genuine, compassionate and honest, he placed the greater good above himself. If wealth can be measured in generosity, Roger was a very rich man. Sadly, he lost his four-year battle with brain cancer on December 21, 2014 at the age of 61.
For decades, Roger’s enthusiasm for modified air-cooled VWs and 911s inspired thousands of like-minded individuals to become involved in the hobby. In the process, Roger earned the undying respect of hundreds of friends.
Over time, many club members discovered that their enduring friendships had become more important than the cars themselves. More recently, a rebuild of Roger’s own 1973 911 served to bring them closer together in a newfound way.
As a teenager, Roger lived with his family in La Habra, California. He found a job washing cars at Don Burns’s Volkswagen dealership in nearby Garden Grove. When Roger got his driver’s license in 1969, he bought a 1962 VW Karmann Ghia from his father, a decorated navy captain and pilot.