Ex-WAFB anchorman found dead
By MARLENE NAANES
Advocate staff writer
Vernon Roger, former WAFB-TV anchorman and Cajun chef, died this weekend in
what police say was a suicide. He was 51.
A friend who had not heard from Roger since Friday checked on him about 9:30
a.m. Monday and found him dead in his Lee Drive apartment.
Roger apparently hanged himself sometime during the weekend, said Cpl. Don
Kelly, a police spokesman.
No suicide note was found.
Boxes in his unit at Place Duplantier Apartments were left unpacked, Kelly
Roger has had a history of high-profile problems, including pleading guilty to
one count of prostitution by solicitation in 1995 and a second-offense DWI
arrest in 2000.
He was in the middle of a divorce and was receiving help for a drinking
problem, said Carlton Cremeens, a longtime friend and former WAFB news
"He was in terrible shape when I saw him (last week)," said Cremeens, who hired
Roger as a reporter 26 years ago.
"He couldn't handle the disease (alcoholism). He tried."
Roger had been talking about committing suicide for "a long time," and family,
friends and professional counselors tried to help but could not reach him,
Despite his troubled personal life, Cremeens said Roger was well-known and
loved by Channel 9 viewers because he was a "very talented man and did
Roger was a reporter, anchorman and an on-air Cajun cook for WAFB after
Cremeens recruited him from a Lafayette station.
Well-known for his stories on the Cajun culture and cuisine in south Louisiana,
Roger won numerous awards for "Roger … At Large," a series of stories about
the Acadiana community, said friend and former co-worker Chuck Perrodin.
"The only person I know who was a better feature reporter was Charles Kuralt,"
He said Kuralt ran a story Roger did about a New Orleans water-glass street
performer during his last appearance on the "CBS Evening News."
"I don't think he was the greatest anchor person, but you couldn't beat his
ratings at noon," Perrodin said.
During his tenure, Roger earned the highest ratings for the noon news hour,
In the early 1980s, Roger developed an interest in perfecting the Cajun recipes
he talked about in his feature stories.
When the station introduced a cooking segment, he asked the news director if he
could cook Cajun cuisine, WAFB Station Manager Nick Simonette said.
"He did it, and it was an instant success," he said. "In everything Vernon
tried to do, especially in journalism, he was successful."
Perrodin said Roger, a native of Eunice, layered his appreciation of south
Louisiana culture by becoming a talented Cajun musician.
Roger, who also wrote several Cajun cookbooks, left the station in June 2001
for unknown reasons and expanded his interest in cuisine by opening Roger's
Cajun Kitchen eight months ago.
The restaurant was popular, and chef and personal friend Philippe Parola said
Roger had a great future in the food industry.
Parola helped Roger recently launch a frozen-food line.
"His was the best Louisiana cuisine I've ever tasted," he said.
"I think he was a very genuine, good human being. I've seen many talents end
their story with alcohol."
Roger's restaurant will remain open.
"In his name we are going to keep it open," Craig said. "We think he would have
Roger is survived by his wife, Diane Deaton, an ex-wife, two children and
Funeral arrangements were not available at press time.
Editor's note: Advocate staff writer Michelle Millhollon contributed to this
> Perrodin said Roger, a native of Eunice, layered his appreciation of south
> Louisiana culture by becoming a talented Cajun musician.
His mother lives 2 doors down from me...