Roger Bedford, Jr.
Roger Bedford, Jr.
October 11, 2023
Roger H. Bedford, Jr., 67, passed away Oct. 11, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, following a recent illness. Born July 2, 1956, to Roger H. Bedford, Sr., and Jane Bonds Bedford, Roger graduated high school from Columbia Military Academy in Columbia, Tenn. He graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a minor in history in 1978.
While at Alabama, Roger was initiated into the Alpha Beta chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order and is counted among the chapter’s Distinguished Alumni. Roger graduated from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 1981, moving home to Russellville and beginning a career in law and politics that would span more than four decades.
Roger began his legal career practicing with his father, uncle and cousin in the Russellville firm that became Bedford, Rogers and Bowling P.C. Roger was a trial lawyer. Like his law partners, he prided himself on being a “country lawyer,” representing his friends and neighbors in their times of need. Later in his career, Roger served as the municipal court judge in both Russellville and Hackleburg.
Roger and his late wife, Maudie, prioritized family and service. They opened their home for celebrations large and small, always believing in the power of connection and community. Together, they chased sunsets from coast to coast. They enjoyed fine meals with dear friends in restaurants all over the world and around their own table, skillfully prepared by Maudie. For Roger and Maudie, there was no better place to be than Bryant-Denny Stadium on a Saturday night cheering on their beloved Crimson Tide with their son, Roge, who was the cherished center of their lives. They were both fiercely proud of Roge and all he has accomplished, most recently his position on Coach Nick Saban’s staff.
An accomplished outdoorsman and committed conservationist, Roger instilled a love of the outdoors in Roge. They spent many happy times hunting and fishing together, including deep sea fishing in the Gulf, deer and turkey hunting in Wilcox County and Troy, salmon and trout fishing in Alaska and shooting birds across Alabama. Roger was a lifetime member of Ducks Unlimited, the National Rifle Association and the Cattlemen’s Association. Roger was a Rotarian, an executive member of the Boy Scouts of America and the Tennessee Valley Council.
He served as an executive committee member of the Alabama Law Institute and on the Alabama State Bar’s Board of Bar Commissioners representing the 34th Judicial Circuit. When they made their home in Russellville, Maudie and Roger were active members of First Baptist Church,\ where Roger was a deacon. Roger loved his labs, Max and Bruni, rescue dog Bear, University of Alabama athletics, prime steaks cooked rare, homegrown tomatoes and seeing Maudie’s roses in bloom.
In 1982, Roger was the youngest person ever elected to the Alabama State Senate at the age of 25. Roger went on to bring economic development, vital programs and essential funding to District 2 and then District 6 for more than 20 years. Dynamic and determined, Roger championed public education, workforce development, and progressive infrastructure projects. Roger was the hardest-working man in Alabama politics. He was fearless in advocating for the needs of his district, which was marked with blue and yellow billboards announcing to entering drivers that “This is Bedford Country.”
Maudie was Roger’s closest ally and staunchest supporter. Together, they worked to make Alabama better. With Roger as their state senator, the people of Northwest Alabama were well represented in Montgomery by a lawyer-legislator who worked tirelessly to ensure their voices were heard. His success in delivering grants and services to his district resulted in well-deserved accolades, including being named “Legislator of the Year” by the Fraternal Order of Police, Probate Judges Association, Alabama Resource Conservation & Development Councils, Alabama Nurses Association, Alabama State Employees Association, Alabama Association of Conservation Districts and Discovering Alabama.
Roger served in the Alabama Senate as Judiciary Chairman (1995-1998), Finance and Taxation General Fund Chairman (1999-2002, 2004-2005, 2007-2009), Energy and Natural Resources Chairman (2009-2010) and Minority Leader (2011-2013). Although Roger formally stepped away from political life in 2014, he continued to serve as an advisor and trusted confidant to candidates, business leaders and elected officials throughout the next decade.
His strong-willed nature and sheer force of determination served him well. Roger endured an astonishing number of earthly challenges and turned them into lasting legacies. After a bone-shattering three-wheeler accident left him in a halo brace, friends and family knew he and Maudie were destined for marriage by the loving way she cared for him. A multi-decade survivor of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Roger used the lessons he learned as a patient at M.D. Anderson to advocate for and support innumerable Alabamians who walked the same path.
After Maudie battled breast cancer, one of Roger’s top legislative priorities was to sponsor bills to educate breast cancer patients about their treatment options. Passed unanimously with bi-partisan sponsorship, Alabama’s Breast Cancer Patient Education Act went into effect on August 1, 2013, and remains a lasting part of Roger’s legislative legacy. Roger faced each of life’s challenges with the support of his family and friends, a strong belief in prayer and trust in God and His saving grace.
In addition to his son Roge, adored nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews and a host of colleagues, constituents and friends, Roger is survived by his brother, John Lawson Bedford (Julia), sister Helen Bedford Roberson, niece Audrey Bedford Ogilvie (Morgan), nephew Evan Lawson Bedford and stepmother Betty Hall Bedford. Roger was predeceased by his cherished wife Maudie, his parents, brother Robert E. Bedford and brother-in-law William “Bill” Roberson.
Funeral services will be held at the First Baptist Church located at 213 N. Jackson Ave. in Russellville on Sun., Oct. 15 at 4:00 p.m. Visitation will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the church. A family burial and interment will follow. Pallbearers include Kenny Crow, Paul Roberts, Bill Lester, Steve Windom, David Marsh, Pat Harris, Mike Cole and Jeff Miller, with multiple honorary pallbearers.