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AJ Rodriguez Jr.

Andres Jesus Eliserio Rodriguez Jr, 70, passed September 29, 2020, in Tucson, AZ. He was born in San Juan, Texas in 1949. He was raised in Michigan and later with his family, relocated to southern California. He graduated from Indio High School in 1968 and shortly after, joined the Air Force where he worked as an Illustrator and Photographer. Andres served for 6 years before departing in 1976 to Tucson, Arizona, where he met his wife of 44 years, Sandra Tarango of Safford, Arizona. They resided in Yuma and Safford, AZ until 1986 when his job with the Department of Corrections took them to Winslow, Arizona for the next 29 years, until they retired back to Safford in 2015. AJ, as he was commonly addressed, lived an adventurous life. He traveled across the seas during his time in the Air Force. He drove across the US during his youth and could always be found hunting, fishing, camping, or surrounded by his large family watching football games. He loved to share the wisdom of his life and took a number of his youngest sons’ friends under his wings and loved them as his own. An injury in 1998 brought him into early retirement and even though it was a tough transition, he enjoyed the peace and freedom retirement brought. He still maintained his love for the outdoors and devoted much of his time to passing down all his tips, tricks and traditions to his grandchildren. AJ is survived by: his wife, Sandra; and 5 children, Andrew, Brandon, Layla, Kassandra, and Jesus and adopted sons, Alfred Farris, Clifton Gourde, Robert Padilla and Bryan Jackson. AJ had 36 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Funeral services for AJ were conducted Wednesday, October 7, 2020, at the Vining Funeral Home. Concluding services followed in the Safford Cemetery. Eulogy given by AJ's grandsons, Samuel and Solomon: Good morning, my name is Samuel David Setalla, one of the many grandchildren who had the honor of calling this man Grandpa. Along with my younger brother, we will be sharing about the history of Andres Jesus Eliserio Rodriguez Jr. We gathered bits of history from all who knew him and everything he told us throughout our lives. On behalf of all who loved him and called him Brother, Father, Grandfather, Nino, Uncle, Cousin, Friend and Soul mate, let’s begin our journey. Andres Jesus Eliserio Rodriguez Jr was born October 13th, 1949 in San Juan, Texas to Andres and Manuela Rodriguez who tended farmlands in Michigan. There was no better place to grow up for someone as free spirited, sporting [sporty?], adventurous, and daring as Andres. Along with his siblings, they conquered the lands, raised animals, and unknowingly ate a goat that was more a friend than livestock. They would adventure on a shared bike, climb apple trees, and eat pears until they were sick and literally walk a mile to school in the freezing snow. It was during his boyhood here that he would learn how to become a man that could be the stable pillar for his family. He would fish and hunt to feed the ones he loved. He would pick fights he couldn’t always win but that would never defeat his fighting spirit, even if it was against a fierce foe, like bees. Even though the life in Michigan wouldn’t last forever, a piece of his heart remained, and he would always share stories of his life there. Enter now, California, the Golden State. It didn’t always hold the fondness it does now, but for better or worse (and it sometimes seemed worse) this was home now. His family continued to grow, and it was here the daring and competitiveness dwelling in Andres really shined. He joined wrestling, football, track and cross country in school. He picked more fights and began his love for motorcycles. He would graduate from Indio High School in 1968 and shortly after, he joined the Air Force and begin his 1st marriage. During his time in the Air Force, he worked as an Illustrator and Photographer, which would have taken him to Vietnam if a drunken motorcycle accident hadn’t prevented that. It was said that his father kept that bike and praised it as the “bike that kept his son alive”. Alcohol, Air Force Survival training and nothing short of the Hand of God, saved Andres, leading and shaping his life in ways he didn’t know then but that we’re grateful for now. He dedicated 6 years of his life to serve his country in the Air Force and although his first marriage was unsuccessful, it brought him the first three children of his earthly legacy; Andrew, Brandon, and Layla. Even in the midst of the distance, trials, and wide array of emotions involved in their relationships, it was always unquestionable that from the very depths of his heart, he loved and cherished his children deeply. His departure from the service in 1976 brought him to his next adventure, in the form a beautiful woman he met at the Red Apple, a disco club in Tucson. With love in his eyes and the feel of her hands in his hair, Sandra had him, hook, line and sinker. They married that same year and, with this union, brought him Sandra’s 2-year-old daughter, Kassandra. From the very moment he laid eyes on her, she was his daughter, born of his heart and officially adopted a few years later in 1979. They also welcomed the birth of their youngest son, Jesus (Crespin). There were a few moves, years of stability and instability, fun times and hard times; but the thing that never changed was that Andres would do whatever it took to be the pillar of strength, as always, for his family. The last career Andres had - one that he always remained proud of - was his time working for the Department of Corrections, which took him to another city he called home for 29 years; Winslow, Arizona. In this dusty, sleepy little town, which no one short of an Eagles fan may have heard of, life flourished for Andres. His family grew larger, with a rag-tag group of Jesus’s friends, who he called the “Scrubs”. Varied in lineage but linked by the bonds of brotherhood, Andres took them all under his wing and still to this day, they loved him and called him dad. In 1990, even though it was less than ideal at the time, Andres began his next chapter in life, which came with the promotion from Dad to Grandpa. Hello, my name is Solomon Rey Setalla, and for the past 19 years, I’ve had the honor and privilege of calling this man grandpa. But he was and is far more than that one word could ever express. He was my full-time “baby squatter” when I was a baby until I entered school. When I was 4, my mom tried to put me in head-start. When they made us wash our own dishes, I thought, forget this, I’m going back to grandpa’s house. He was my companion, walking to Circle K for Cheetos and Gatorade, or just being outside together. He was my teacher, showing me all his tips and tricks on how to fish (it wasn’t long before student became master, no matter how much he denied it). So much of what I know, and how I’ve lived in just this small portion of life, is built on the true love and bond I shared with a man I will always look up to. And what I will share with you now. My Grandpa had an injury that caused him to have to retire in 1998 and even though it was a tough time for the family, we still grew together, and the bonds of love stayed true. Retirement usually coincides with rest and relaxation, but if you knew my grandpa, you know that he wasn’t one that could sit still for very long. As my grandma kept up her career at the beauty shop, he took over the “women’s work”(laundry/dishes/making dinner/grocery shopping) to keep busy. He returned to his creative side, making rubber band guns for the grandkids to shoot each other with, working to maintain his yards and do house repairs or expansions. I remember he’d always come in the house, in his cutoffs and tank-top, look at all us kids in the house and, when anyone would ask what he was doing, he’d always reply “workin’ like a burro”. He took pride in teaching his kids how to handle a gun, how to camp, how to build a fire, how to survive and find their way back if they ever got lost in the wilderness, literally leaving one of us out there.(Don’t worry though, he made it back to camp alive and he’s still here today). He taught some of us how to drive, how to fix our cars, work with our hands, utilize different tools, how to create various objects and use our imaginations to solve problems. He taught us how to cook over the stove and over an open fire. Whenever we’d ask - and as soon as he knew we were coming over - he’d make his signature popcorn, that we’re going to miss every football Sunday. Every year as the fall and winter seasons approached, he’d make menudo that I’m not sure anyone can ever replicate, and together with my grandma, they’d make tamales for all the kids. Before they moved back to Safford to fulfill the wishes of our great grandmother (Simona,) we used to cram into grandpa’s small house, sprawled wall to wall in the living room. Or, you could find us completely laid out on their big king size bed, watching football games together every Sunday. Never one for being able to keep secrets, and always wanting to see the excited faces of his kids, gift opening always happened in the early morning hours on Christmas Day. These small traditions that used to seem so repetitive, hold a deeper meaning now, and I hope that if you used to have your own traditions with our grandpa, you keep them alive. If you have your own memories of his crazy humor, music he shared, the deep tenor of his laughter, the eternal warmth of his hugs, or recall some of the wisdom of life he shared with you, you tell and share them with others. My grandpa loved to tell us stories of his life, one about a one legged-flaming rooster from hell, or the Lloroña who “takes naughty, crying kids and drowns them so you better behave” kind of stories. Retelling memories helps to revive the feelings associated with them and in a small way, it keeps the love you experienced tangible and alive; so, share them! Life is so fleeting; here one day and gone the next, like a rose bud that flourishes for a moment but can always be recalled with grace and beauty. My grandpa is here, even now, and the love and strength he showed us in life will carry on and continue to shine through in all who loved him. Thank you.


Guestbook

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A very close bother in law. Physically will be miss but always in our hearts.. may he now be walking in the side of God with no pain.. and watching over his family and giving them the strength to carry on. Till we meet again.

J. Ridruguez Oct 4 2020 12:00 AM

A very close bother in law. Physically will be miss but always in our hearts.. may he now be walking in the side of God with no pain.. and watching over his family and giving them the strength to carry on. Till we meet again.

J. Ridruguez Oct 4 2020 12:00 AM

Andy had the first waterbed I ever saw. He made a backyard fire that brought peace and understanding to a crazy world.

Pattick Camacho Oct 2 2020 12:00 AM

Love you brother. I will miss your voice. I will miss your laughter.

Andrea Rodriguez Oct 2 2020 12:00 AM

Love you brother. I will miss your voice. I will miss your laughter.

Andrea Rodriguez Oct 2 2020 12:00 AM

Andy had the first waterbed I ever saw. He made a backyard fire that brought peace and understanding to a crazy world.

Pattick Camacho Oct 2 2020 12:00 AM

He was a magnificent story teller. Get that man near a camp fire and he would tell tales that still creep me out to this day. He will forever remain the wild man under the stars kissed by a cool breeze.

Angie (Jolies daughter) Oct 2 2020 12:00 AM

He was a magnificent story teller. Get that man near a camp fire and he would tell tales that still creep me out to this day. He will forever remain the wild man under the stars kissed by a cool breeze.

Angie (Jolies daughter) Oct 2 2020 12:00 AM