Letitia Ann (Tish) Rogers Appignani, 71, of Des Moines, Iowa, art maven, mover and shaker, proud mother, and dear friend to many, died on September 14, 2021 in Mercy One Hospice House in Johnston, Iowa with her beloved daughter Alix Rogers and daughter-in-law, Katie Jo Nelson, by her side.
Born March 22, 1950 in Manhattan, Kansas to prominent lawmaker and federal judge Richard Rogers and the politically savvy Beth Rogers, Tish was funny, creative, and a fierce advocate for her causes to the very end of her life.
She loved art and politics, she loved people, and she knew how to make things happen from developing cutting-edge programs for at-risk youth, to mounting national political events such as the announcement of Bob Dole’s presidential run, or convincing private donors and government entities to fund the arts. When Tish spoke, people listened—and usually did what she wanted. And even when she didn’t speak, her friends knew she was quietly moving behind the scenes to get things done.
A graduate of Kansas State University, Tish’s career began in 1974 with an appointment to the staff of Kansas Governor Bob Bennett. As liaison to the Kansas Arts Commission, she began developing her unique brand of arts-oriented community activism with the Brown Bag Concerts Series at the State Capital Building.
In 1984, Governor John Carlin appointed her to the Kansas Arts Commission. She also served as Vice President of Kansas Citizens for the Arts, a statewide group that lobbied for increased arts funding, and later became Executive Director of the Arts Council of Topeka. In 2001 as Executive Director of the Potawatomi Zoological Society, Tish found ingenious ways to incorporate art into her efforts to build the organization.
Moving to West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle with her husband, Peter Appignani, when he took a job in Washington, D.C., she quickly became a leading member of the Jefferson County Convention & Visitors Bureau. She also served on the Board of Happy Retreat, was a president of the Jefferson County Arts Council and a key member of the Executive Committee of Artomatic Jefferson as well as a prime mover in the effort to present Charles Town, WV as a thriving hip community and arts magnet for tourism. Tish thrived on making a difference in people’s lives with her inspired art projects, and her friends, colleagues, and peers will miss her great spirit.
She is predeceased by husband Larry Rogers, a former Kansas State Senator with whom she owned Rogers Pharmacies, and by husband Peter Appignani, who matched her brilliant tactical mind step for step until his death in 2017. In addition to her daughter and daughter-in-law, she is survived by her sister Cappi Nelson, brother-in-law Doug Nelson of Topeka, Kansas, brother Kurt Rogers of Taft, California, and her dear animal family Bruno, Willa, Chicken, Squirrel, Dotty, and Carrot.