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Spreading love with homemade cookies

Judy and Earl Rogers in their kitchen where Judy Rogers bakes cookies every morning to give to various people throughout the community. Rogers started her tradition of baking cookies in the 1960s. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)2 / 4
On this particular Tuesday, Judy Rogers delivered a batch of her famous molasses crinkle cookies to Steve Nelson, owner of Twin Ports Collision Repair, who was fixing the bumper of her car that day. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)3 / 4
Because she bakes one or two batches of cookies daily, Judy Rogers goes through a 25-pound bag of flour about every two months. When the holiday season rolls around, the demand nearly doubles. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)4 / 4

Judy Rogers is known as the "cookie lady" because it seems not a day goes by that she doesn't have a fresh batch of cookies to generously surprise someone with.

"I make cookies everyday and I bring them to almost everything I go to," she said.

Rogers is a retired nurse but now works alongside her husband, Earl, at Duluth Travel Agency, which they run out of their home. She is the mother of two and the grandmother of several.

The tradition started when Rogers worked as a labor and delivery room nurse at St. Luke's Hospital. She started there in 1963 and worked as a nurse for 15 years.

"When we worked at night, often women would go into labor and the doctors would come and sit and half the night just wait and I would always have some cookies in the back for them to eat with their coffee," said Rogers.

Her daughter, Teri Rogers Metry, recalls going all over the place with her mother delivering cookies to people. To her, it was all just part of growing up.

"I don't think there were many other moms that baked in our neighborhood, so all the kids would just come in, even if they weren't playing with me, and take cookies and then just walk right out our front door," said Metry. "Everyone just knew that Tony and Teri's mom baked."

Although Metry doesn't carry on the baking tradition, she said that her mother is always willing to bake and will bring plates and plates of cookies to just about anyone.

When Rogers is not baking cookies she remains very active. She is either working on some project for Altrusa International or Rotary, working in her yard or singing in her church choir or the barbershop choir she is part of.

However, no matter where she goes, one can almost assume that a plate of cookies will be in hand.

"What I know is that she plans out what cookies she is making the next day and then in the morning she bakes them," said Cindy Marshall Hayden, publisher of Lake Superior Magazine. "I've known Judy probably all my life and she's showed up at my office with cookies for many of my birthdays. She loves to surprise people; it's fun to be remembered."

Every Sunday she brings them to her church choir practice before the service at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. On Mondays she brings them to her barbershop choir practice for members to enjoy during their break. For her monthly Altrusa meetings she brings eight to 10 plates of cookies and baked goods for people to buy and all the proceeds go toward the group for service projects. If she sees the mail carrier on her front door steps, she'll run out to deliver cookies.

Recently, Rogers has been recognized and has won awards for her baked goods.

Four years ago KQDS-FM held a Christmas cookie contest. Rogers ended up taking first place.

"I did win with my cookie called "Church Windows," said Rogers. "It looked like a stained glass window."

Rogers was picked two years in a row for the best baked rhubarb recipe at the annual CHUM Rhubarb Festival in 2010 and 2011.

"The first year, my winning item was a rhubarb breakfast baked dish. The next year, it was a rhubarb-mango cheesecake with strawberries on top," she said.

When asked why she bakes cookies every single day for people, she said, "I guess it's just my way of spreading love."