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Rodney Kirk Babb was born in Portland, Oregon, March 23, 1942 to Bruce and Marjorie Babb. During Rodney’s younger years the family lived in southeast Portland primarily in what is known as Ladd’s Addition. He attended Abernathy Elementary School. In the summer of 1949, another member of the family was added when Rod’s younger brother, Douglas was born.
Rod’s father supported the family by working in the grocery store business in various capacities and later owning his own store in partnership with Rod’s grandfather, Hamit Babb.
Having become widowed, Rod’s maternal grandmother, Frances Emerson whom Rod referred to as “Nana”, moved in with the young family and was a strong positive influence in Rod’s life.
Prior to Rod starting high school, the family sold their store and moved to South Weymouth, Mass. taking Nana with them. Rod, who had always gotten reasonably good grades in school, struggled his freshman year in South Weymouth. He ended up repeating that year but after that seemed to regain his school footing and went on to do well during the remainder of his high school career.
Believing he could not adequately support the family in Massachusetts Rod’s father decided to move again. This time to Sarasota, Florida where the plan was to partner with Rod’s paternal grandfather, Hamit Babb once again, and with Rod’s uncle, Ernest Babb. They purchased a service station which they intended would support the three family groups. However, that wasn’t possible. So a year later, Rod, his parents, brother and grandmother moved back to Portland.
He enrolled in Benson High School, which at that time was an all-boys vocational school. He finished his Junior and Senior years at Benson, graduating in 1961.
It was during this time that he met and began dating his future wife, Kathy Dawes. He also joined the Navy reserves. Upon graduation from high school he reenlisted as active duty in order to join the submarine service. Rodney and Kathy were married August 3, 1962 after Rod completed Sub School in New London/Groton, CT.
Rod’s Navy career spanned twenty years during which he attended a number of Navy schools, including Nuclear Power School, and served on a number of Submarines such as the USS Thomas Jefferson, USS John Adams and USS Pargo. While he was able to visit and see places like Spain, Scotland and Italy, it always tickled him that people wanted to know if he got to see a lot of places while at sea. His response was usually, “It’s hard to see much when you’re underwater.”
Upon his retirement from the Navy in October of 1981, he moved his family to Oregon so he and Kathy could both be closer to their aging parents and took a job with the US Post Office as a maintenance mechanic in 1983. He retired from the Post Office in 2008.
Rod was also an amateur radio operator and enjoyed many years of involvement with the MARS program – Military Affiliated Radio Station. It was his way of supporting other military families separated by military duties.
In 2010 while on a cross country driving trip to visit with friends and family Rod experienced intense stomach and back pain. Upon returning to Portland he was admitted to the hospital with a badly infected gall bladder and gall stones that had begun to migrate. His condition rapidly deteriorated to the point that Kathy was told it was doubtful he would leave the hospital alive and was advised to contact family. But nine months and several surgeries later Rod was deemed well enough to leave the hospital. Unfortunately, he never fully recovered his health to its previous level.
In Sept. of 2019 Rod and Kathy sold their house in Portland that they had lived in for nearly 40 years in favor of moving to a senior community. In 2021, their daughter and son-in-law sold their home in Tigard, Oregon and moved to Rio Rancho, New Mexico with the intension to prepare the way for Rod and Kathy to follow them.
So in February of 2022 when they purchased a house in Rio Rancho, plans were put into motion for them to follow their daughter to New Mexico. They moved their new house the first of April and began the work of making it home. One month later on the morning of May 2nd, Rod said that he didn’t feel right, that something was wrong. An ambulance was called and he was taken to the local hospital where he passed away later that evening of a massive brain bleed.
Rodney will be buried in a small private ceremony at the Santa Fe National cemetery. A memorial service will be planned later.
Rodney was preceded in death by his brother who passed away in 2017. He is survived by his wife Kathy, their four children, Douglas, Debrah, Dean and DaWayn, eleven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. He loved and was loved. He will be sorely missed.
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