Samuel Rodriguez passed away at home in the loving care of family and friends on Saturday, September 4, 2010, after a losing battle with cancer. He was 60 years old.
Born in Brooklyn on June 27, 1950, Sam discovered northern New York as a young boy through summer visits provided by the Fresh Air Fund. He relocated full-time to Potsdam in 1964, where he lived and worked with Fred and Vi Baker on their family farm. He graduated from Potsdam Central School in 1968. He married Lana Bowen at St. Mary's Church in Potsdam on July 12, 1969.
Sam worked in a variety of jobs after completing high school. He spent many years working for Montgomery Ward in Potsdam and eventually opened his own Montgomery Ward catalog outlet in Massena in the mid-80s. The business did not survive long-term, but Sam had a reputation throughout the North Country as an honest businessman and a hard worker who would put in an extra effort to satisfy his customers, no matter what job he was doing.
He also worked for several years with his good friend Karl King as a heating/air-conditioning technician and installer. In 1988, he began work as a corrections officer with the New York State Department of Corrections, where he was employed for the remainder of his life. He consistently sought out new challenges in the workplace and served the state as a member of the DOCS Crisis Intervention Unit, as the Employee Assistance Program coordinator for Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, and as a DOCS certified trainer in cultural diversity and gang awareness issues.
Community service and politics were a big part of Sam's life. He was a member of the Jaycees organization for several years. He was quite involved in the Council 82 correctional officers union (now NYSCOPBA) and was a vocal participant in the recent successful battle to keep Ogdensburg Correctional Facility from closing. He loved debating about politics and current events and he had hoped to become a town or county legislator in the future.
Sam also did not hesitate to take time for fun; he was an active member in bowling leagues in his younger years and took up golf as he got older. He also enjoyed working around the house and could often be found with a tool belt on, knee-deep in a renovation or home improvement project.
Family was Sam's top priority throughout his life, and his most cherished moments in his final years were spent with his grandchildren; Bowen Rodriguez, Carina Cook, Tate Rodriguez and Neiva Rodriguez. They survive him, as does Lana Rodriguez, his beloved wife of 41 years; his son and daughter in law, Jason and Leigh Rodriguez of Canton; his daughter and son in law, Rhonda Rodriguez and Richard Cook of Massena; his mother, Alejandrina Gerena of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; his sister, Anna (Sam) Claudio of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; his brother, Javier (Rita) Barreto of Copperas Cove, Texas; his brother Jose Barreto of Kemper, Texas; his sister, Rose Leslie of Allentown, Pennsylvania; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He is also survived by several members of the Baker family of Potsdam and their extended families.
He was predeceased by his father, Raymond Rodriguez, in 1987; his brother, Moises Rodriguez, in 1984; his brother, Raymond Rodriguez, in 2001; his adopted parents, Fred and Vi Baker; his adopted brother, Peter Baker, in 1969 and his adopted sister, Pauline Baker Mackey, in 2006.
Calling hours for Samuel Rodriguez will be held at the Seymour Funeral Home, Potsdam on Tues., Sept. 7 from 7 -9 p..m and on Wed., Sept. 8 from 2 -4 p.m. and 7 -9 p.m. A memorial service for Sam will be held at Seymour Funeral Home on Thurs., Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Brian McCormick officiating.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Sam's name be made to the American Brain Tumor Association, 2720 River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60018, or online at http://www.abta.org/Donate/54.
The family requests that people planning to attend calling hours and/or the memorial service for Sam please take a moment to jot down a fond, funny, or otherwise special memory or story about Sam on a sheet of paper or card. Please bring these memory cards to Seymour Funeral Home, where they will be placed in a memory box and shared during and after the memorial service.
Arrangements are with the Seymour Funeral Home in Potsdam.