A really good human being

Remembering and celebrating the life of Professor Rody Randon of Phoenix College (1973-2023)


Northeast Valley News

Rody Randon Memorial Celebration

Janet Richards, Reporter

As a long-time investigative reporter who’s trained to be skeptical of most people it was admittedly a challenge to write a story about a really good human being.

The late Professor Rody Randon, was that good human being.

The evidence?

A packed room at his memorial/reception where colleagues and friends from Phoenix College and beyond stepped up to a microphone to voice their tributes—one after another— recalling personal memories of a man whose deeds of goodwill and love touched everyone that spoke.

The parade of homages for Professor Randon lasted almost two hours and ceased only because an additional musical tribute for the beloved man was about to begin at the church nearby.

Professor Rody Randon passed away on January 23, 2023—he was 49 years old. https://www.phoenixcollege.edu/community/giving/memory-rody-randon

Amy MacPherson was not only Randon’s longtime friend and jokingly, his, “work wife” but her family considered Randon a relative, “My daughter called Rody, ‘Uncle Rody’ and my husband considered him a brother,” MacPherson tearfully said as she was the first to address the room.

MacPherson spoke of the devastating loss of her partner in the Communication Department at Phoenix College where she worked with Randon for more than a decade and where he later became the Program Director and Department Chair. It was evident as she recounted detailed characteristics unique to Randon such as his, “joke of the day” or his favorite phrases— that these recollections were met with familiarity, nods and laughter throughout the room.

The laughter went quiet for a moment when MacPherson’s pain was so evident and each person’s own loss over Randon briefly bubbled to the surface.

“His goal was to connect, and if you look at the people around the room here—there are a lot of different kinds of people, there are people from other colleges, different places around the city, colleagues from different departments—Rody was somebody who got up and walked around in order to meet people,” MacPherson tearfully said.

Former students of Professor Randon sat around a table at the front of the room and clasped tissues. Many of them are still connected to the college where they were inspired by their professor and friend and some came back to begin their careers on the campus where they felt loved and accepted.

“Rody was all inclusive,” one colleague said.

As the chair of not only the Communication and Reading Departments, Randon also served as Chair of the American Sign Language and spoke fluent Spanish.

“He would have insisted that we have sign language interpreters here today to make sure everyone was included.”

There were three interpreters present.

“People loved Rody,” MacPherson said…“No, I won’t say loved—not in the past tense.”

MacPherson attended the funeral service for Randon in Colorado where he was from and where most of his family still live.  She recalled what the pastor officiating the service said that day.

“We’re not here because Rody died, we are here because Rody lived.”

Phoenix College colleague, Dianna Martinez, told the audience, “When I saw Rody the last time, I got the opportunity to say ‘oh my God Rody how are you?’ I haven’t seen you in forever, and I got to run up to him and squeeze him and tell him that I had missed him and was so happy to see him. And you all know that he was always so happy to see us—so I had my opportunity to greet and to hug Rody for the last time and I am so, so thankful for that. So for me, I took away from that…hug on people, love on people like we might not see them again.”

Another speaker who worked with Randon in Student Services hesitated for a moment through a throat full of tears and then shared, “Rody truly represented the students that are underrepresented, he referred countless students to us for help, and I cannot believe that he has left us.”

A young man walked up to the platform and quietly recalled some humorous memories of Professor Randon’s “one of a kind” mentoring techniques, his jokes and his encouragement in tough times. And then his voice grew stronger and more resolute.

“I knew Rody when I started here in 2018 as a service learning coordinator, what I loved about Rody is that he taught me to speak up and to not be afraid, to not be shy, to represent who I am to represent my community and to not ever feel bad or feel ashamed of my story growing up in poverty, and of being LGBTQ, and of all those things—he empowered me! When I would walk into the office he would stop and say ‘Hey Lupe,’ and he would speak to me in Spanish and I was so surprised cause I was like ‘oh wow he speaks Spanish’ and he spoke better Spanish than I did.”

The young man paused and admitted that he didn’t usually pray, but closed with a personal prayer to his friend and recited it beautifully in Spanish.

“Look at all the people who showed up today for one person, we are all connected because of him,” another colleague said as she walked up to speak.

The emotions, the long held embraces, the tears and the love in the room was a profound tribute for a man who surrounded himself with people.

Along with those who stood against the wall and in every corner of the Hacienda Conference Room at Phoenix College, because all the seats were taken—was a full board of people who had joined the ceremony virtually and were on display via a huge screen.

At different times while people were speaking in the microphone at the lectern, they would suddenly be interrupted by a virtual attendee who did not realize that someone else was talking.

After several attempts at muting the virtual attendees, the crowd finally gave in to rousing laughter when one lady who was speaking virtually but was not aware that someone else was already talking…and was politely told, “she’s not finished speaking,”—chimed back and said, “whatever!”—this  seemed a most appropriate setting for the man who thrived in the “chaos of people.”

For a reporter and observer who did not fully know Professor Randon the way the people at the memorial knew him—after a few hours, one thing became exceedingly clear.

This was a man who lived his values.

Professor Rody Randon was loyal. He was a faithful friend and family member to those he loved and he made sure that he did not remain a stranger to those he just met. He didn’t let people down. He included everyone, from every walk of life into his world, no matter their circumstance or countenance.

He was a really good human being—we don’t have enough Rodys in this world.