Weertz was one of a handful of Farragut recruits who received part of their training at what was then the University of Idaho Southern Branch in Pocatello. He must have liked the city, because he came back after the war to attend college. He received a BA in music from ISU, then went on to get a Master's from Drake University. He studied further at Julliard in New York.
For whatever reason, Weertz decided to change his name while living in Pocatello. He allegedly pulled out a telephone book and ran his finger down the columns until he found one he liked. That name was Roger Williams.
There was only one Roger Williams in the phonebook at that time, according to the Roger Williams I knew. My friend, Roger, was a long-time Fish and Game employee and gained some measure of fame, along with Syd Tate, by charting out Idaho’s Centennial Trail.
The faux or, perhaps better-said, newly named Roger Williams gained quite a bit of fame in his time.
First, he won "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" program, with a lively piano rendition of I Got Rhythm. But it wasn't until 1954, that a record company executive heard him playing piano in a Manhattan cocktail lounge, and signed him to a contract. His first, and still most famous, hit record was Autumn Leaves. By 1968 he had recorded 52 albums, and sold nearly 15 million records. At 43, he became the best-selling instrumentalist of all time.
Roger Williams, name borrower, Farragut Naval Training Station recruit, ISU graduate, and world renowned pianist and composer passed away in 2011.
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