"I left my hotel in the French Quarter and turned right instead of left on a street at eventide going out for a stroll and saw a woman struggling with two schnauzers. They had escaped and there wasn't any ID on the dogs," said Cavett.
He offered to help and they spent the next three hours trying to find the owner, finally tracking down the president of the local schnauzer club.
"It sounds like the beginning of a light-hearted movie." Were it a movie, the second scene would come decades later.
"We sent amusing letters back and forth about one every two years. I'm afraid to ask if she kept mine," he said.
"When my wife died [in 2006], I got a note from Martha and that resumed it. I must have dropped her a note. She responded to that and the next time I saw her was in New York and we had dinner and she had to go that night to Connecticut for something. And everything sort of fell in place from there."
Cavett dedicated his 2010 book, Talk Show, "To M., who knows who she is." They married in October.
Blue-eyed, striking, and with elegant fashion sense (in New Orleans she sewed clothing for a boutique), Rogers, 58, taught marketing at Bowling Green State University from 1981 to 1994. She won the prestigious master teacher of the year in 1987 and still serves on the board of advocates for the college of business administration.
In 1990, she had another fortuitous meeting. Don Peppers, a New York ad exec, spoke to the Toledo Advertising Club, and she buttonholed him afterward, suggesting they collaborate. He agreed and they ended up co-authoring a 1993 book that met with quick success, The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time. Two years later, they were on the cover of Inc. Magazine, standing back-to-back.
Of her driving ambition, a business partner observed, "She adds new meaning to the description of type A personality. She has two speeds: overdrive and asleep."
Married and with two small children, she began teaching companies around the globe how to identify their best customers and cater to their needs. She managed by hiring a housekeeper to look after the boys and run the household, as well as an administrative assistant, and when she took the children on the road, a nanny.
Peppers and Rogers Group, a management consulting firm in Norwalk, Conn., thrived. In January, they published a new edition of Managing Customer Relations.
"She works way too much for my taste. But we find time to do stuff together and go places together," said Cavett. "To me it's amazing what she accomplishes. It's beyond me how anybody can do so much."
Rogers is divorced from Stuart Bertsch who lives in South Toledo. They have two sons: Cameron, who attends BGSU, and Spencer, who's in high school at Maumee Valley Country Day School.