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Roger Allen Slater MD, USMC January 16, 1931 - October 14, 2021

Roger Allen Slater MD, USMC Obituary

Roger Slater passed away at home from natural causes on October 14, 2021 at 90 years of age.

He was born January 16, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois and baptized at Kedvale Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Oak Lawn.  Roger graduated from Chicago Christian High School and Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In what he referred as a great “impulsive” act of his life, he joined the Marine Corps.  When the Korean war ended, he was honorably discharged, accepted into medical school and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1958.

While originally planning to be a family practitioner, he was ultimately offered a residency in the neurosurgical program at U.C.L.A. and Long Beach Veteran’s Administration Hospital.  He served a clerkship at the Neurology Institute at Queen’s Square in London from 1966-1967. He frequently attributed his successes to the outstanding combined neurosurgical mentorship of William (Bill) Porter MD and John Douglas French MD.

Roger was a respected neurosurgeon in the Long Beach and surrounding areas in a successful medical practice anchored by Long Beach Memorial Medical Center where he was elected to serve as Chief of Staff.  He was frequently recognized as a pioneer in his field leading what became acknowledged as a ground-breaking advancement in surgical practice with the early development of stereotactic robot assisted radiosurgery techniques.  He was a natural leader and was committed to advancing his profession through active participation in the Western Neurosurgical Society and American College of Neurological Surgeons.

In 1984, Roger made a major life change by accepting an invitation to become the first neurosurgeon on the Island of Maui.  His legacy at Maui Memorial Medical Center includes many community activities, especially the pursuit of a lifelong passion to support the nursing profession with the establishment of the Maui Nurses Scholarship Foundation.  In Maui Roger met and married Karen Lee Slater.  They had many years of happiness together playing tennis, hosting community events, building homes and travelling to favorite locations around the world.

Karen and Roger moved to Poulsbo in the late 1990’s to be closer to their children and grandchildren.  They built another home together and ultimately settled in the Indianola community.  As usual, they dove into various community activities, made continued contributions and developed many lasting friendships.  His friends knew him as an avid Shakespeare afficionado with an extensive library who often memorized various plays and speeches he felt were instrumental to gaining a deep understanding of life and love. Dozens upon dozens of yellow pads and file folders were filled over the years with ideas, thoughts, aphorisms, scripts for movies and books, cartoons, correspondence with community and national leaders and explorations into the meaning of life.  He was inexhaustible in his intellectual energy and his desire to explore the boundaries of both the known and unknown.

Following Karen’s death in 2016 and a stroke in 2018, Roger decided to move to Boise, Idaho to live with his daughter and son-in-law.  Several months before his death, he began writing his memoirs.  These writings were instrumental in catalyzing personal and professional reflections gained over the course of his life.  He frequently said “a day without learning something new is a day wasted” and lived into that adage until the very end.

Roger is preceded in death by his parents George and Marion (Dykhuis) Slater, his wife Karen Lee Slater and his son Mark Benjamin Slater.

He is survived by sister Sharon (Slater) and Frederick Dehaven, brother George and Marge Slater, daughter Sandra Lynn Slater-Duncan and Gordon Ross Duncan, grandsons Tavis Cailean Duncan and Cameron Patrick Duncan, daughter Michelle Ann Slater as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests tributes be made to Maui Nurses Scholarship Foundation at http://mauinursesfoundation.org/about.html.


  1. REPLY
    Dean Porter says

    It is with great sadness that I send condolences to Roger’s family. Roger was an accomplished neurosurgeon and a loyal friend. Just a couple of months ago, he spoke at Bill’s Celebration of Life, Roger meant a lot to Bill and me, because he introduced us and we enjoyed 53 years of marriage.

  2. REPLY
    Shelley Duncan says

    It was such a pleasure to have Roger around. Had some good conversations with him. A couple happy hours. He was blessed to be able to have been taken care of his daughter and son-in-law

  3. REPLY
    Steve and Amy Slater says

    Uncle Rog was well read, well traveled, interesting, reflective, wise, fun, funny and genuine. He loved us greatly and we will miss him as we continue our journey….. Love to you all

  4. REPLY
    Jacqueline and Chuck Probst says

    Roger and Karen shared a large part of their lives with us on Maui. We enjoyed their friendship throughout the years and shared lots of laughter and adventures! We truly loved them and miss them in our lives. We are honored to have had them in our lives. They will always be in our hearts.

  5. REPLY
    Carol Yamamoto says

    Maui was SO fortunate to have our first neurosurgeon, Dr. Roger Slater. He was instrumental in expediting my craniotomy with another neurosurgeon on Oahu 27 years ago! I will ALWAYS have the deepest respect a d admiration for him.
    My heartfelt condolences to the family. May God be as good to you as He has been to us.
    Warmest Aloha…

  6. REPLY
    Linda says

    My husband and I were fortunate enough to purchase the home Roger and Karen built in Poulsbo. We met them many times during the purchase and afterward, since it turned out that we had mutual friends. Roger and Karen were charming, thoughtful and very helpful to us as newcomers to our community. And, of course, we are grateful every day to live in the beautiful house they created. By an odd coincidence, my niece will be marrying a man named Slater (no relation, apparently) next year, so we will have an ongoing reason to remember Roger with fondness.

  7. REPLY
    The Old Days says

    I had a dream about Roger the month he died. We were playing tennis together. Roger looked like he did when he was in his 50s, when I first knew him and I was a teenager. We were having a good time, playing tennis and having a beer. It was light and fun, just like the old days. No bad feelings, no resentment, that would come later. Just playing tennis on Maui in 1988. I had no idea that he had passed when I had the dream. I was driving my 16 year old son to school and told him about the dream. He said that this must be a sign and I should google Roger. Well, the obituary was the first thing that pulled up when I did. I don’t believe in coincidences, never have. Travel well Roger.

  8. REPLY
    Betty Herman says

    Dr. Roger was my partner in supporting people who chose Medical Aid In Dying. He was gentle and kind as he asked our required questions. He was a gentle man and a gentleman. He always won when we were discussing who should pay for this lunch or that breakfast. The obituary captured perfectly the man I knew. He is missed and will continue to be.

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