Donta Dawon Rogers was fun-loving and celebrated life to the fullest. No one was a stranger to him. He loved to make people happy, using his beautiful voice to sing, his sharp wit to tell funny stories, and his great gift of impersonation. Donta wanted all of his friends and family to love life. He encouraged countless friends and family to strive to be all they could be.
He was born on May 10, 1981, to Susan Delores Ray and Mark Eugene Rogers in Inglewood, California. When Donta was one, he and his mother moved to her hometown of Tacoma, where she raised him with the help of his grandfather (Daddy), Uncle Mike (Baba), and Auntie Mimi.
Donta was surrounded by music at an early age. When he was seven, he auditioned at the Pantages Theater for The Nutcracker and was awarded the part of an Elf. In Tacoma, Donta attended Lakeview and Bryant elementary schools, Mason Junior High, and Wilson High School. Throughout his school age years, Donta played the clarinet and piano, was a member of the Drama Club, and sang in several choirs. This developed his love for singing and acting.
Donta came to Christ at an early age and attended Hilltop Christian Center in Tacoma. As a member, he sang in the choir and spread the word of God, traveling to the Virgin Islands with a missionary group at age 16.
In his senior year of high school, Donta won a music scholarship to Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Upon returning to Tacoma, he sang and did comedy at local functions. He then moved to Las Vegas with his cousin Yazmin, where he worked in the hotel industry. His most rewarding job was as a backstage assistant to Celine Dion, whose shows he never tired of watching. Donta found a whole new set of lifetime friends whom he loved dearly during his five-year stay in Las Vegas.
Donta returned to Washington, moving to Seattle to further his career. He performed at Pride Idol and was named a finalist. He also attended Liberation Ministries, where he also sang in the choir.
Throughout his childhood, Donta was curious about his father and his father's family, but his mother had lost track of where his father was located. Finally, in late 2010, his stepmom, Erada Rogers, saw a picture of Donta on Facebook and couldn't get over the resemblance to his father, Mark, and subsequently decided to contact Donta. Donta had found his family at last! Donta and Erada and her family constantly communicated through Facebook.
In March 2011, Donta traveled from Tacoma to Long Beach, California, to meet his father and stepmom. Donta met the Rogers family for the first time and was welcomed with open arms! He was embraced by his brother Marlin and sisters Crystal, Valencia, and Tameka, his grandmother Selena, his uncle Jerry, aunts Bonnie and Dianna, niece Tatiana, and nephew Marlin Jr. Donta's charisma charmed the Rogers family immediately. He sang 'His Eye Is on the Sparrow,' without knowing that was his grandmother's favorite song.
In July 2011, Donta moved to California to seek a career in entertainment and to get to know his father's side of the family. He was included in all family gatherings, such as a day trip to Universal Studios with his stepmom and all of their children and grandchildren. Sadly, Donta's stepmom passed away suddenly in August 2012. While Donta was sick from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he honored his stepmom at her funeral by singing a beautiful solo.
Donta quickly made a host of new friends in Los Angeles, whom he loved. While holding down a job, he started his career and performed at the Comedy Club in Hollywood several times and at clubs in Burbank. He even landed a small part in a movie. Unfortunately, his career pursuit was cut short by his cancer diagnosis. Donta kept a positive attitude that he would beat it and go on with his life. His attitude was amazing and he convinced his family, friends, and the doctors at Cedar Sinai Hospital that he could beat the cancer. After over five months of continuous treatments, the doctors had to tell him that they could do no more for him. Donta moved to hospice care at his Aunt Bonnie's house on April 25, 2013. No matter how bad his pain was, Donta maintained a positive attitude and fought hard to overcome the cancer. He developed even more loving relationships with the hospice care doctors and nursing staff.
Donta left this world on June 4, 2013, surrounded with an audience of friends and family. It was a beautiful transition from the arms of individuals who loved him dearly to the arms of Our Holy Father.
Donta leaves behind his mother, Susan Ray, and father, Mark Rogers; his brothers, Jesse and Malcolm Ray of Tacoma, Marlin Rogers Sr. of Long Beach, and Mark Rogers Jr. of Arizona; his sisters, Crystal Rogers, Tameka Adams, and Valencia Pitts of Long Beach; his grandmother, Selena Rogers of Pasadena, California; his grandfather, Samuel Ray of Tacoma; his aunts, Bonnie, Dianna, Judy, Brenda, and Delores; his uncles, Jerry and Dennis of California; Auntie Mimi and Uncle Mike of Tacoma; and a host of nieces and nephews and cousins from Washington and California.
A celebration of Donta's life will be held Saturday, June 22, at 1 p.m. at Hilltop Christian Center, 1016 S. 10th St., Tacoma. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to help with the funeral arrangements. Donations can be made by contacting Howard Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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