Click the livestream link to watch the service. Livestream will start around 12:50 PM. You may need to refresh your screen. If there is a problem, a recording will be posted as soon as possible.
Life Story / Obituary
With a generous heart and unwavering integrity, Neftale "Nick" Rodriguez lived a life rich in family and faith. Nick greeted each day as a gift and every person as a friend. Nick's honesty proved legendary, and his commitment to the good care of others was unquestionable. With a magnetic personality and tremendous pride in those he loved, Nick's terrific sense of humor inspired much laughter even in the face of life's more challenging moments. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and community member, Nick was revered by many and will long be remembered by those who were blessed to know him.
1947 proved a year of continued celebration of the nation's momentous victory in World War II. America's heroes eagerly returned home to a country filled with renewed spirit and hope, ready to claim their share of the American Dream, which they fought so proudly for overseas. As American prosperity grew like no time in our history hope sprang eternal, and the Greatest Generation soon proliferated, creating the age of the Baby Boomers. In Phoenix, Arizona, the cause for celebration grew even greater for Atanacio and Cruz (Torres) Rodriguez as they welcomed their son, Nick into their hearts and home on May 26.
Growing up in Uvalde, Texas, the fourth oldest of the eight Rodriquez kids, Nick attended school throughout the year, and in the summer, traveled with parents to do farm work. The family traveled throughout the country, including Montana, Ohio, and Traverse City, Michigan. At the age of 12, Nick began working in the fields as well. Spending much of their time together afforded Nick and his siblings to forge close relationships that lasted their lifetimes; they were one another's first and longest best friends. From the start, Nick was always a bit mischievous and a jokester. With little effort, Nick could naturally strike a conversation with anyone, often inspiring smiles and laughter. It was during these early years that Nick learned the art of balancing hard work with laughter, which became the firm foundation upon which he built the rest of his life.
Nick left school early to help the family earn a living. One of his main jobs was driving a truck from the fields to the processing factory. It was at work that he had the good fortune of meeting Olga Cuellar. As soon as Nick saw her, he knew she was "the one." After courting her for a year, the happy couple married, officially beginning their 54-year adventure.
In time, Nick and Olga were blessed to welcome eight children to their family. As a second-generation American citizen, Nick's parenting was firmly rooted in his desire for his kids to have a better life. He willingly sacrificed for them and worked hard to ensure them a loving home and opportunities to improve. With Olga at his side, Nick instilled the values of family and hard work in his children. A strict father, he never wavered in his expectations. As long as the kids were living under his roof, they lived under his rules. He encouraged his children's educations and taught them that "no job is a bad job." He led by example, showing his kids the importance of always doing their best and holding their chin up.
While Nick found full-time work as a custodian at the local high school, he always worked an additional part-time job to meet his large family's needs. While this left him little time at home, he used that time to focus on tending to the yard, often with his kids' help, and resetting with good food and rest for the next full week of work. He could also be found meticulously maintaining his cars. Many an hour was spent washing, waxing, and detailing the interiors with great care.
As he didn't work at the high school during the summer, he tried to get the family to do migrant work during this time. The family traveled to Montana for work, but the kids didn't like it. As a result, they didn't do that much longer. In 1985, Nick, Olga, and their five younger children moved to Grand Rapids in search of more opportunities than they had in the small Texas town. He soon found work at Hope Network as a custodian, where he worked for 24 years before retiring. While he was primarily a custodian, he would help with residents as well. A natural people person, Nick enjoyed lending his help and sparking smiles and laughter along the way. As always, Nick also worked a second job cleaning downtown office buildings in the evenings.
Coming from Texas, it took a bit of time to get used to winter! During the warmer months, he and Olga tended to their vegetable garden and flower beds. On weekends Nick and Olga enjoyed going to the beach in the summer or hosting a barbecue. They also enjoyed loading up the car with the kids and snacks and taking a long country drive; it was how they learned the area. While Michigan became their final home, they traveled each year back to Texas to share time with their siblings, children, and grandchildren.
The cornerstones of Nick's life were his faith and family. He attended church twice on Sundays and Wednesday evenings and relished in every moment spent with his loved ones. He was a wonderful grandfather who, as with his own children, taught them with patience and pride. From tying their shoes to driving a car, Nick gently guided their growth and entertained him with his jokes and fabulous stories.
As health began to challenge him and he had to retire, Nick wrestled with slowing down and filling his need to work. The solution came in his volunteering to provide companionship for those who were sick. With signature kindness and care, Nick provided much-needed conversation, smiles, and laughter. At home, he loved watching old westerns like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, John Wayne movies. He and Olga also enjoyed watching newer shows like CSI and sitting outside on the deck. With the good care of their youngest daughter and her family, Nick and Olga were able to stay in their home for many years. Five years ago, they moved into the in-law suite at Criselda's house in Holland, where they enjoyed her great care and the delightful company of their grandkids.
Without a doubt, it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Nick's steadfast presence. May we find comfort in our cherished memories of the fine man we were privileged to know. May we also be comforted by the knowledge that we carry the best of his legacy forward in our own lives, and that each time we share these gifts, we keep his spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired us.
Neftale "Nick" Torres Rodriguez, age 73, of Holland, and formerly of Grand Rapids, passed away October 21, 2020. He is survived by his wife, Olga; children Rene Mancha, Rudy Mancha, Ronald (Rhonda) Mancha, Linda Rodriguez Gonzales, Mark (Shawn) Knight, Marisol (Mario) Montoya, Horace (Jennifer) Rodriguez, Criselda (Jose) Montero; 21 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren; brothers and sisters Eliseo (Oralia) Rodriguez, Daniel Rodriguez, Elizabeth (Jim) Gonzales, Cruz Ramos, Sam (Eunice) Rodriguez, and many nieces and nephews. Nick is preceded in death by his parents Atanacio and Cruz Rodriguez; his brother Eleazar; and sister Rebecca; and daughter-in-law Norma Mancha. His funeral service will be held on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, at 1 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW where friends may visit with his family on Monday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park. To read more about Nick, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com