Rodney Dee Park, aka Papa who can fix anything, passed away surrounded by his family on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. He had a massive heart attack on March 11, and was unable to recover. His family have declared that day will be forever known as St. Papa’s Day.
Rod arrived on Nov. 13, 1954, as the fourth of 11 children to Maxine Zaugg and Clifford Jay Park. Rod learned hands-on the construction trade from his father, beginning at the age of four, receiving the kingly salary of a hamburger and shake.
His family moved several times as Rod grew up, finally landing in Clearfield. Rod loved to play baseball, basketball and football. He was fond of singing and was a member of the Madrigals at Clearfield High School and continued to bless his family with his musical talents throughout his life and could often be heard singing the Beatles or Chicago, even while riding his motorcycle.
He married Camille Tams in May of 1973. They had two beautiful children. They later divorced.
Rod met the love of his life, Loretta Sherrie Dunn, while remodeling the Utah School for the Deaf & Blind where she worked. Loretta asked him for an interview for her Journalism 101 class. That interview continued for 41 years. They exchanged wedding vows on March 15, 1979, and then were sealed for time and all eternity a year later in the Ogden LDS Temple. He promised Loretta he would take her to a different temple each year for their anniversary. At that time there were 18 temples. They have since attended sessions in 58 temples across the country, the Philippines, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and Alaska.
They started out as an instant family of four, adding three more children within seven years. Rod built their home in West Point in an “L shape” for Loretta. They taught all five children the importance of hard work, education and to serve others. They lived in their home for 32 years before being bought out by the Utah Department of Transportation. They still own a half acre of their West Point property where Rod’s vegetable garden, fruit trees and man cave are located.
Rod picked their current home in Clinton, where they’ve resided the past 3 1/2 years.
Known by all for his big warm smile, his “can-do” attitude, his constant acts of service and most importantly, for his love of his family and the gospel.
Rod, an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has served in many callings including high councilman and bishop. His favorite calling was nursery leader, which he served several times.
At the time when Rod was to be released as the bishop of the West Point 14th LDS Ward, he called himself as a nursery leader moments before he was released. He served faithfully and with love for 18 months.
Many children have sat on his lap singing songs, reading books, playing with dolls and trucks. To this day, he is known as “Teacher,” by many young ones who are now adults.
The most important children who Rod cherished were his 13 grandchildren. He was either on the floor playing blocks with the little ones or outside playing Nerf War, playing a game of basketball, football or going on a bike ride with one or more of them. He loved playing chess with his grandchildren and enjoyed teaching them. He would play any type of card games and relished winning. He enjoyed a good water fight any day and would usually gang up with the grandkids against their Gramala.
Rod and Loretta hosted a grandkid sleepover once a month for the past 15 years for the grandkids to bond as cousins. He built two triple bunk beds in their current home for their grandkids.
Rod was a generous man with his time and skills. Many times he would be late home from work because he stopped to help someone with a project or teach them how to use a tool. All of his children and their spouses often called for advice on how to fix something and he would generally take his tools and go work with them.
As soon as October arrived he would get his ATV ready for snow removal to help any neighbor as long as he had fuel. No one was allowed to drive on his driveway until the snow had been removed first. He would then move on to the neighbors with either the ATV or a shovel. One Christmas celebration was put on hold until he arrived home because he was helping several people get the plowed snow off the front of their driveways so they could go visit their families.
Rod lived to be outdoors. He loved to fish, hunt, ride the ATVs, hike and bike. Riding on his 1985 Honda Goldwing with his wife would be a highlight of his day.
Rod enjoyed road trips with Loretta when they would listen to audible mystery books and have time to just talk. Their last road trip was through Texas in 2019 when they attended temple sessions at four different temples in five days.
Rod could make friends with anyone. He didn’t care what faith a person practiced, how much money they had, or their occupation. He loved everyone and tried hard to be kind.
At the time of his passing, he was the superintendent in charge of the historical interior of the Salt Lake LDS Temple remodeling project. He had postponed his retirement for four years because this was the project he always wanted to do. Rod has been employed with Jacobsen Construction for the past 15 years. Prior to that he had worked for 32 years with McCullough Engineering & Contracting.
Some of the projects Rod supervised or worked on included the renovations of the Brigham City Tabernacle, Logan Tabernacle, the St. George Tabernacle, and the Salt Lake Tabernacle. He was in charge of the building of the Vernal Temple. He supervised the building of University of Utah Nursing School, the Primary Children’s NICU, the Utah Valley Hospital expansion, and the Kearns Building.
Family, friends and coworkers are shocked and saddened to have this bright light taken them suddenly.
Rod is survived by his wife, Loretta, his children, their spouses and 13 grandchildren, Brandon and Ann Park (Ellie, Katie, Julie), Nicole and Corey Spencer (Devin, Tailey), Terra and Josh Cooper (Caleb, Corbin, Alayna), Chad and Megan Park (Benjamin, Henry, Oliver), and Jennica and Tyler Brocious (Emerly, Parker).
Also surviving are nine siblings: Marlene Poore, Ardell Park, Dale Park, Brenda Schmitz, Tammy Long, Debbie Park, Denise Larsen, Sheri Furch and Leeann Williams. He is further survived by many nieces and nephews whom he adored and they adored him, as well as cousins, aunts and uncles.
Rod’s mother passed away on March 10. He was also preceded in death by his father and one brother.
At this time a private graveside service is planned at West Point City Cemetery for immediate family only due to safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The family plans to hold a larger memorial service when COVID-19 social distancing guidelines are adjusted.
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