Rod in 1959
King of Hearts
Rod passed away on August 25, 2000 at Bethesda Naval Hospital of a heart attack at age 89. He had given more than 50 years to Keewaydin, starting in 1934 on trip staff (breaking only for World War II and returning with his wife Mary) and finishing in 1989 as storekeeper.
He was an extraordinary man of contrasting talents. Although he was a two-year Bay Trip staffman ('38, '39), he had spent most of his trip staff years as the staffman in Mattawa with the youngest campers. Though he was the 1933 national collegiate hammer-throw champion and a member of the 1932 championship University of Michigan football team with Gerald Ford, he had become a master ballroom dancer. He loved being with the youngest kids, but paddled the biggest and heaviest canoe in camp — 18-foot, close-ribbed number 4. He was comfortable roughing it in a Chestnut on the Rupert River and moving with the urbane scene in Bethesda, Maryland, where he had taught for 30 years at Sidwell Friends School. He could carry two canoes at a time, one gunwale on each shoulder, but for all his physical manliness he wasn't afraid to give a camper a hug when he needed one.
At 12 years of age, Fred Reimers was a camper in Rod's canoe in Mattawa. "He was a giant, but soft-spoken," Fred recalls. "I never heard him raise his voice and I never saw him angry."
"He had phenomenal timing with kids," says Fred Hunt. "He knew just when to wink or change the subject." He probably enjoyed the Mattawa campers the most, but had no children of his own. They were his children.
As the storekeeper in his last years at Keewaydin, he was always there with advice and an old-timer's insight. Which was really no different than all the other years when he was there for Keewaydin. For those who had the good fortune to pass in his shadow, he will always be larger than life.
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