We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Baker Funeral Home
Rodney Douglas Hendrick, age 84, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, August 27, 2022.
Rodney was born on April 15, 1938, in Jacksonville, Texas and was raised from the time he was young boy in Baker, Louisiana by his parents, Miller and Reba Hendrick. From the time he was a young boy he had a thirst for knowledge and in elementary school developed a fascination with insects, which became a lifelong passion and vocation. He was a Charter member of the Boy Scout Troop #24 in Baker, worked part time at the grocery store next to the Exxon refinery, and attended and graduated from Baker High School where he excelled in football and was a proud member of their first undefeated Varsity team. He went on to attend LSU and join Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, eventually becoming Rush Chair for several seasons – a position he enjoyed a great deal. Rodney had many fond memories of his time at LSU and had a never-ending supply of fascinating and humorous stories and facts about life at the University. Rodney graduated from LSU with a Bachelor and Master of Science degrees. After graduating from LSU, he went on to earn the degree of Master Mason, and enlisted in the Coast Guard, serving for 4 years, and was stationed in New Orleans where he was trained as a dental corpsman. Following his service with the Coast Guard, Rodney was accepted to the University of California, Riverside to pursue his doctorate. He proudly achieved that goal and was awarded his Doctorate of Entomology in 1967. He received an offer to lead research in the Entomology Department from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, VA, where he was tasked with travelling abroad extensively searching for thistle consuming insects and doing the initial groundbreaking research on the boll weevil eradication program in the United States, his proudest accomplishment. While at VPI he also established the 2nd Quarantine Receiving Insect Laboratory in the United States. Family ties brought Rodney and his family back to Baton Rouge. Rodney served as the GM for Polk Chevrolet for some years where he helped build the business into the largest Chevrolet dealership in Louisiana and Mississippi in only 3 years. He was also an early supporter of the child safety seats GM introduced as well as pioneering the Soap Box Derby in Baton Rouge. Rodney went on to open his own dealership in New Roads, LA. Rodney’s love of science, knowledge, learning, and teaching brought him back to LSU where he worked as a Professor and WQ Specialist at the LSU Agricultural Center, a position he held for 20 years. He served as the storm water control expert for the State of Louisiana, most notably during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, working with agencies throughout the southeastern part of the state on the long road of clean up. Rodney was also the driving force behind the South Louisiana water quality management program. If you are drinking water, it is as clean as it is because of his tireless efforts over two decades to radically improve and implement the cleaning and standards of our water filtration systems, making sure that all the drinking water in Louisiana was safe and of the highest quality, and is now rated the 2nd highest quality water in the country.
He was a pioneer and recognized leader in the field of Urban Stormwater Management, Waste and Water Reuse, and Regulatory Source Controls for pollutants. He developed the initial draft of the Beneficial Use of Sewage Sludge Chapter in the LA Department of Environmental Quality Solid Waste Rules; Best Management Practices (BMPs) for agricultural and forestry residues; the Exemption Special Collection Day Programs for waste tires and used oil; and Compost and Compost Site standards in Recycling Regulations. Rodney developed BMPs for cotton gins, rice mills, sugar cane bagasse, compost facilities and paper mills for Beneficial Use of their organic and ash residues. He conducted research using these residues to reduce erosion from crop fields and for reforestation projects. Nothing was wasted and the environment was preserved.
Rodney was a prolific researcher. During his career he is credited with over 100 presentations, publications, handbooks, FAQ sheets and regulatory contributions. Included in his academic and honorary achievements, Rod originated the concept of the LA Master Farmer program, which is now nationally supported by the USDA Cooperative Extension program. He was the site coordinator for the LA House project at LSU. Rod was the Founder and Co-Developer of the Compost Operator School at the LSU AgCenter. He was the founder of the LA Urban Stormwater Coalition (LUSC), where he developed education and training programs for small MS4 communities to meet their permit requirements. LUSC is now a member of the National Municipal Stormwater Alliance and is a part of the Water Environment Federation. As such LUSC has a seat at the table with EPA to discuss unintended consequences of Rules to MS4s.
Even after LSU mandatorily retired him due to age, he kept coming to work until they deactivated his pass card. And still he kept working and moved onto independent consulting. Rodney loved teaching and had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and travel. He combined these passions to attend and teach at conferences, international, local, state, and federal venues. He pushed education and training in the field of pollution control tirelessly and always gave his all to those
who sought knowledge. He was an avid environmentalist and initiated the Earth Day movement and annual events in Baton Rouge.
Semi-retirement also brought time for him to more actively pursue his lifelong passion for horticulture and developed into hybridizing and grafting exotic hibiscus. He was a founding member of the Red Stick Chapter where he was an avid participant, mentor, friend, and educator to many. His kitchen table was always a showcase of his talent and passion for beautiful hibiscus blooms.
His free time found him involved in many hibiscus events and gatherings, visiting his son at his restaurant Zippy’s and enjoying Mexican food, spending time with his grandchildren and helping with their science projects, working in his greenhouse tending his plants, growing the best variety tomato seedlings for his daughter-in-law’s garden, grafting on his back porch, and spending time with his much-loved pets.
Rodney is preceded in death by his parents Miller and Reba Hendrick, and grandparents, Henry and Lovie Hendrick and Luther and Maude Killion. He survived by his two children, son Neal Douglas Hendrick (Kathy Stevens) and daughter Michelle Milstid (Robert Milstid), 6 grandchildren: Chandler Elise Hendrick, Hunter Polk Hendrick, Alexandra Stevens Hendrick, Gabriella Helene Hendrick, Elizabeth Grace Smith and Michael Gabriel Smith, and one great granddaughter, Charlotte Elaine Smith. Rodney is also survived by his brother, Leroy Hendrick, sisters Patsy Hendrick and Reba Mae Humphries, and Cousins Barbara Choate, Benny Ray Killion, Nancy Killion, and AC Wright. He is also survived by his former spouse and mother to his two children, Judy Polk King, and former spouse Kathryn Hendrick, with whom he remained a close friend, and her children Renee Cooper Willis and Melissa Cooper. Rodney is also survived by many friends, fellow hibiscus lovers and colleagues.
Visitation and service will be held on Saturday, September 3, 2022, at Baker Funeral Home, 6401 Groom Rd., Baker, LA 70714. Visitation will begin at 10:00 a.m. followed by funeral service at 12 Noon, and with graveside service following immediately after at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens. The family invites you to join them for a reception at the home of Neal and Kathy Hendrick following the services.
The family encourages all to bring their favorite hibiscus bloom or a bloom that Rodney created to the service. There will be a table available for the flowers. Flowers are appreciated or a gift in his memory to a cause dear to him, the Friends of the Animals Baton Rouge, Inc., P.O. Box 14781, Baton Rouge, LA 70898 www.friendsoftheanimalsbr.org