Mary McLeod Rogers grew up in Taylorsville, North Carolina, and graduated from high school in 1937. She took a business course at Brevard College in Brevard, North Carolina, then got an apartment with her sisters in Charlotte, North Carolina. She worked at the Hardware Mutual Fire Insurance Company for five years.
Rogers joined the Women Marines in February 1944 and in April was sent to basic training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She completed boot camp in the summer with a second class after recovering from a broken knee in the Naval Hospital, and remained at Lejeune for Paymasters’ School. In the fall Rogers was sent to Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, where she audited payrolls in the Navy Annex. She was discharged in February 1946, but continued in the same job as a civilian for a few months.
When Rogers returned to Charlotte, she worked for Motors Insurance Corporation and married J.B. Johnson in 1949. They had three children and lived in Whiteville, North Carolina, and later in Mullins, South Carolina. Rogers also worked for an accountant and in the family business. After the death of her first husband, she moved back to Taylorsville and remarried.