Robert D. Rodriguez left this life to be eternally in Heaven with God on February 15, 2021. After a brutal five year battle with cancer, Robert quietly passed away with his family by his side. Always a fighter, and never giving in to his illness, Robert bravely replied when asked how he was doing, “I’m fine. I’m ok.” Robert confidently gave this response to his loved ones to reassure them of his determination to win his fight against cancer. In his courage, he selflessly donated to MD Anderson to find a cure for cancer, inspired others with his zest for life, and found comfort, hope, and strength with his family and best pal.
Robert was born on September 19, 1944, in Coleman, Texas to Gilberto R. Rodriguez, Sr. and Anita R. Diaz. In the late 1950’s, the family moved to Abilene, Texas where he attended local elementary schools and graduated from Abilene High School.
On December 7, 1968, Robert married Angelita Biera at Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Merkel, Texas. Upon their marriage, they made their home in Abilene, Texas. Several years later, they were blessed with their only child, Monica Yvonne. For over 50 years, both Robert and Angelita were active parishioners in their church serving in several different capacities.
Several of Robert’s favorite hobbies included playing baseball, golfing, all kinds of hunting, and in his leisure time collecting and watching John Wayne movies. As a young man, during the summer, every free moment was spent playing baseball with family and friends for a league known as the Merkel Tejanitos, and rooting for the Texas Rangers. As well, later on, Robert very much enjoyed coaching and managing several softball teams for his daughter, nieces, and family friends. Eventually, Robert gave up playing baseball and coaching softball, only to find himself enjoying the sport of golf. Playing for fun, excitement, and camaraderie, each weekend was either spent on the Merkel golf course or traveling within the state to tournaments. In the winter time, Robert hunted in Texas and in different parts of Colorado for deer, turkey, and antelope. To Robert, these were special hobbies, as he was able to spend valuable time with his brothers, close friends, and extended family members.
Self-taught and certified in many home improvement areas, Robert became known as a jack-of-all trades. Robert’s talents included carpentry, woodworking, masonry, plumbing, framing, welding, and a skillful electrician, artist, and mechanic. He enjoyed working on his 1996 Chevy Camaro, beautifying his yard with green grass and colorful plants, holding annual July 4th bar-b-ques, and turning unwanted furniture into one of a kind pieces. To those who knew him well, he was known as a “master” craftsman; to his wife, “MacGyver”.
Early in his career, Robert was employed with Seaglass Manufacturing of Abilene. Later in 1970, Robert found employment with Southwestern Bell Telephone holding different positions for the company. Upon the divestiture of Southwestern Bell Telephone and AT&T in 1983, Robert continued his employment with AT&T. After 31 years of service with Bell and AT&T, Robert retired as a Network Electronics Technician.
Robert is survived by his wife of 52 years, Angelita (Abilene, Texas), daughter Mónica, and son-in-law Mitchell Kelley of Castroville, Texas. As well, he is survived by his siblings, Gilbert Rodriguez (Pat), Martin Rodriguez (Lupe), Joe Rodriguez (Linda), Virginia Gonzales all from Abilene, Texas and Guadalupe “Lupe” Ascencio of San Marcos, Texas. Other survivors include mother-in-law Elvira Biera of Merkel, Texas, Juanita Valdez (Luis) and Christine B. White (Dan) of Abilene, Texas, Liria B. Graciano (Ruben) of San Marcos, California, John Biera of Phoenix, Arizona, Rudy Biera of Merkel, Texas, Rosie Lucas (Russell) of Hamlin, Texas, Joe Biera (Rick) of Pueblo, Colorado, Steve Biera (Laurie) of Bangs, Texas, a host of nieces and nephews, and his life-long four-legged best buddy named, Gordy.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents, Gilberto Rodriguez, Sr. and Anita Rodriguez, father-in-law Juan C. Biera, brother’s Willie Rodriguez and Frank Rodriguez, sister-in-law Vicki Rodriguez, and nephew Eric Ascencio.
Robert’s family expresses their thanks, appreciation, and gratitude to those who took excellent care of him: doctors and nurses at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas, especially Dr. Hans Lee and Dr. Quasar Bashir, and doctors and nurses at Hendrick Health (North) in Abilene Texas, including Dr. Naveed Anwar and Ben Trent, PA, and formerly of Texas Oncology, Dr. Haris Baig.
A rosary service will be held at 6:00PM on Sunday, February 28, 2021 at Starbuck Funeral Home in Merkel. Robert’s family will receive friends following the Rosary until 8:00PM. A Funeral Mass will be held at 1:00PM on Monday, March 1, 2021 at Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church with Father Isidore Ochiabuto presiding. Burial will follow at Rose Hill Cemetery in Merkel.
Pallbearers include: Louis Valdez, Tony Pallarez, Mario “B” Moreno, John Biera, Rudy Biera, Joe Biera, Steve Biera, Russell Lucas, Dan White, Zac Rodriguez, Nic Rodriguez, Robert Ascencio, Sebastian Ascencio, Anthony Rodriguez, and Chris Biera.
The family requests masks and social distancing be observed for the rosary, funeral, and burial service.
Online condolences and memories may be shared with the family via the Starbuck Funeral Home link at www.starbuckfuneralhome.com.
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