Lending voice to the Blue

Over the course of more than 55 years, Swampscott’s Roger Volk has made not just one, but many names for himself. To most, he’s an accountant, though others know him as the lively voice announcing Swampscott High School football games over the span of two decades, or the name printed on the foundation of the Phillips Park statue he donated to the town.

The Roger Volk and Company tax-accounting office at the Seaport Landing Marina in Lynn can be easily discerned from practically any other tax office. The lobby houses a multitude of nick-nacks, including miniature sculptures lining the walls, a rubber mannequin, and chairs elaborately painted to resemble celebrities sitting.

Down a hall decorated with newspaper clippings, a shelf full of books written by Volk’s clients, and a dedicated sports memorabilia room, sits Volk, 80, at the same office he’s occupied since he earned his certified public accountant certificate in 1965.

“It’s a fun office. It’s like you walk in and you go ‘Wow, it’s nice here.’ Taxes aren’t a fun thing to do, but we do the best we can do. You know we serve coffee, soft drinks. I wanted to serve wine, but they talked me out of that,” Volk said.

Born in Swampscott in 1943, Volk’s father was in the corrugated-box business and started his own business under the name Roger D Kenny Company, named after Volk and his brothers, Douglas and Kenny.

In the mid-1960s, his brothers took positions in the family business. Volk, who had graduated with a degree in business administration from Boston University, got married, and was working toward his CPA certification, did not want to move to his father’s factory in Maine.

“I didn’t want to move to Maine, my wife didn’t want to move to Maine. My kids were here, so we were on our own. Even though my father was a little bit upset because he wanted all three of his kids to work with him,” Volk said. “He changed the name to Volk Packaging.”

After earning his CPA, Volk, while starting his own firm, got a job working as a corporate accountant for the KPMG firm. It was one of the largest CPA firms in the world at the time, and he worked for the firm in Boston’s Prudential Center for six years.

Although he was paid handsomely, Volk found the job overly mundane. In 1970, on the day his boss planned to promote him to management, he quit the corporate world and moved to academia.

“I went in to see the boss, the head guy in the corner office at the top of the Prudential. I said ‘Hey Howard, how are you?’ He says, ‘Roger, what’s going on, buddy? I got some good news for you… you’re being promoted to management.’ I said ‘I came in here to tell you that I’m giving you notice I’m leaving,’” Volk said. “I knew I didn’t want to be a public accountant, that’s too boring. I needed some more excitement.”

After leaving KPMG, Suffolk University Head Dean Robert Waehler, Volk’s friend and former professor at Boston University, offered him a job teaching at Suffolk. There, he rose through the ranks, earning two master’s degrees — one in education and the other in business administration — and finishing a doctorate in philosophy before becoming an assistant dean at Suffolk.

His time at Suffolk came to its end in 1984, when Volk left the university to care for his wife, June, who had cancer.

“I couldn’t leave my wife at home and go to teach and have that smile on my face and be happy and then go home and feed her, so I resigned from Suffolk University. It was hard to do because I loved that job,” Volk said.

After June died from cancer, Volk returned to his business full-time and took a job hosting the weekly WRKO radio show “Financial Survival with Roger Volk,” in which he answered tax questions from listeners calling in.

Volk continued growing his business and making media appearances as “the Tax Guru” in newspapers and on radio stations for 25 years. He remarried in 1988 to his current wife, Elaine, whose husband had died in an automobile accident.

In 2000, Volk, a lifelong sports fan, took a job as the Swampscott High School football announcer, after reconnecting with the school’s principal and his high-school friend, Peter Sack. With his grandson, Jacob, next to him reading the roster, Volk had a ball. He said he once ran out of the booth with a microphone to rile up the crowd.

“I announced the rest of the game from the middle of the crowd. I was screaming and everybody’s yelling and screaming, it was so much fun. I went back up into the booth and I said to my grandson who was next to me ‘I don’t know whether that worked or whether I might get fired for doing that,’” Volk said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Volk left the announcing job. This year, he left his mark on the football field where he worked for 20 years. Volk donated a statue of five smiling children — resembling his and Elaine’s collective five children — to the Town of Swampscott to be erected near the football field at Phillips Park.

“Every time somebody looked at those statutes, they had a smile. That was my whole purpose, I saw my purpose. I gave something nice to the town, and you can’t go by without smiling because they’re five happy kids,” Volk said.

Now, still full of energy at the age of 80, Volk said he hopes to slowly step away from his longtime office to spend time with his family and work on his golf game. Still, with a fresh 400 clients joining this year, Volk said he hopes to come into the office for appointments only.

“I’m 80 years old and I work full time. I love what I do,” Volk said.