Longtime radio and television personality Bette Rogge Morse has died, according to her son-in-law Craig Murakami of Kettering.
Rogge Morse died of natural causes at her Kettering home on Tuesday.
“She passed away very peacefully,” said Murakami.
The Dayton native, who was born in the 1920s, was inducted into the Dayton Area Broadcasters Hall of Fame (DABHOF) in 2003 after spending decades on radio and television stations that included WING ,WHIO, GTV-19 and DGTV/DATV, according to her hall of fame and University of Dayton bios.
“Bette was the ‘Grande Dame’ of Dayton area broadcasting,” said Jason Michaels, DABHOF board member and Cox Media Group radio news anchor and announcer. “She started on local radio, then made the transition to television hosting on Channel 7. I had the pleasure of interviewing her at the last Dayton Area Broadcasters Hall of Fame reception, where she was happy to reminisce and was as witty as she ever was.”
Rogge Morse was one of the first women in the area to host a local TV variety show. Her show aired during the 1960s and 1970s. She later had an interview show on local cable TV during the 1990s and early 2000s.
Retha Phillips, DABHOF co-founder, said she met Rogge Morse in the early 1990s.
“If you asked her to do an interview, she wouldn’t need a script; she could just adlib. She was just a very versatile person. She was just professional in every aspect,” said Phillips, who is Dayton’s first black female broadcaster. “She was a great friend. Her and her husband were just nice, nice people. I’m just thrilled to say that I knew her and what a great person she was.”
Rogge Morse is survived by her husband Wayne H. Morse Sr., daughter Melissa (Craig) Murakami of Kettering, son Wayne (Melissa) H. Morse Jr. of Atlanta and grandchildren Tyler and Jordan Morse, also of Atlanta.
Rogge Morse hosted a variety show called The Bette Rogge Show from 1967 to 1972 on WHIO-TV. Some of her guests included entertainer Liberace, actress Loretta Swit, and actor William Shatner.
Rogge Morse graduated from the University of Dayton in 1944 before attending Northwestern and Colombia universities for post-graduate work in English and drama, according to UD’s Archives and Special Collections department. She also received her master’s degree from UD in 1977, the same year she started teaching communications at UD.
Nancy Stork of Dayton was working in UD’s Advancement Office when she met Rogge Morse, who was also one of the first women to serve on the university’s Board of Trustees from 1975 to 1981.
“I watched her interview celebrities in person and on the film collection they presented to UD and was impressed with her kind and thoughtful style,” Stork said. “Bette always did her homework and knew how to bring out the best in whomever she was interviewing. She never asked inappropriate questions that might embarrass someone. But, she loved to have fun and had a quick wit and sparkling laugh.”