Obituary Rod Kirkpatrick
Rod Kirkpatrick was known far and wide around Fauquier and Rappa-hannock counties simply as “Groundhog,” a nickname he acquired in his early teens when local farmers asked him to take his trusty rifle out in their fields and go after the destructive rodents.
Groundhogs love to feast on commonly grown vegetables, and their bur-rows can destroy farm ponds, injure horses and undermine building founda-tions. Enter Mr. Kirkpatrick, a crack shot who rarely missed and was often summoned by frustrated farmers for many years.
A native of Warrenton, Roderick D. Kirkpatrick died on Wednesday, July 3, at the Broookside Rehab and Nursing Center in Warrenton after a short illness. He was 85.
Mr. Kirkpatrick was asked once about his groundhog hunting and told an interviewer, “the landowners don’t have the time and I’m glad to contribute the time to help them. Groundhogs are a nuisance. They dig seven to eight-foot deep holes in the ground and owners don’t want their horses stepping in those holes.”
He also was known far and wide around the county for his tennis prow-ess, both as a player and a chair umpire for countless club, local and state tournaments over the years. He was a long-time and truly beloved employee at Warrenton’s Chestnut Forks Tennis Club for 40 years.
“Our opening day was April 25, 1975,” recalled Chip Maloney, the club’s owner then and now and one of Mr. Kirkpatrick’s closest friends. “Rod came in that first day and he was really our first customer.”
Two years later, Mr. Kirkpatrick began working at the club, and spent the next four decades in a variety of jack-of-all-trades maintenance and other positions until he retired in 2017.
According to Mr. Maloney, if someone didn’t show up for a game, Mr. Kirkpatrick quickly changed into tennis clothes and shoes and filled in. When potential new members wanted to try out the indoor and outdoor courts, he was summoned to hit balls with them.
“Rod was quirky, but it was a good quirky,” Mr. Maloney said. “He al-ways had nicknames for his favorite people. He called me Father Maloney. When he umpired county tournaments, he would always give a short speech about the winner of the match. People would come out just to hear his speech-es. To call him a character would definitely be an understatement.”
Said, Terri Diley, another close friend for many years, “I have never met a more pure and genuine soul.
“His heart was a magical source of positive energy and love,” she added. “You could be sure he found only the positive characteristics in each person he encountered and carried them with him and built his strength from those quali-ties. His adoring love for his God illuminated through his eyes and his words. I will miss him more than anyone before.”
Mr. Kirkpatrick was born on Feb. 15, 1934 at historic Twin Oaks in Warrenton, the son of Col. Richard J. Kirkpatrick and Dorothy Seaton Kirk-patrick. His father was a squadron leader for the famed Flying Tigers, an elite group of American pilots who joined the Chinese Air Force to take on the Jap-anese in the Pacific theater during World War II.
He attended the Stuyvesant School in Warrenton, Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, VA., and earned a bachelor of arts in biblical studies and a minor in speech from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Caroli-na in 1962. Mr. Kirkpatrick lived in Rappahanock County for many years.
He and his wife, Sandra Kirkpatrick, were divorced and he is survived by his two children, Lorraine Desantis of Canton, Ohio and Paul D. Kirkpatrick of Richmond, and sisters Anita Kirkpatrick, who lives in Pennsylvania, and Elsie Jordan, a North Carolina resident.
A service will be held at Moser Funeral home in Warrenton on Satur-day, July 20 at 11 a.m., followed by a luncheon at Chestnut Forks Tennis Club. Donations should be made in Mr. Kirkpatrick’s name for funeral and burial expenses.
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