RODNEY WILLIAM BAUMHOVER NOVEMBER 2, 1965 - MARCH 17, 2008
by Timothy Corder
(San Diego, CA USA)
Rod was a very special person. He was born in Sioux City, Iowa to unwed parents and placed for adoption immediately after birth. He was adopted by Charles and Mary Lou Baumhover shortly thereafter and moved to the mountains of Colorado where he was raised along with his brother, David John. The family owned a German restaurant in the resort town of Estes Park where Rod began to develop his culinary skills from the time he was 7 years old. He was a champion swimmer throughout his youth, and earned many awards for his speed and endurance, mostly for the butterfly stroke, which is, perhaps, the most difficult style of swimming.
He worked in his parents restaurant until it closed in the late 1980's, and was accepted to the University of Colorado upon graduating from Estes Park High School. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration without any financial help from his family. A swim meet brought him to San Diego in 1991. He immediately fell in love with the city's Mediterranean climate, romantic atmosphere, and picturesque landscape. He started making plans to move here excited about the many opportunities for a career in the culinary industry as millions of tourists visit every year.
He had so many talents. He loved people, cats, and gardening. He could cook absolutely anything. He loved to entertain, and when he did, you felt special. No detail was ever too big or small, His love of food and the hospitality industry landed him some great jobs in San Diego. He worked for the Sfuzzi, Inc. chain when they were at the pinnacle of their success, and for the 5-star Westgate Hotel. He also managed the kitchen at The Bayou Bar & Grill, and worked for Sodexho corporate services at the time of his untimely death.
Rod was a survivor. He overcame many obstacles in his life. His world was shattered in late 1995 when his mother, Mary Lou. became ill and died suddenly. Several months later, he learned that he was HIV positive, at a time when effective drugs had not yet been discovered. He became very health conscious, but developed epilepsy in 1997. The doctors were able to get his seizures under control with Dilantin, which he took for many years, and continued to work hard, always. When it became necessary to start taking medications for advanced HIV, Rod's doctors had to replace his Dilantin with an experimental anti-epileptic drug called Keppra, as it would be more desirable with the protease inhibitors.
On December 19, 2007, I received a call from the UCSD Hospital Trauma Department that Rod had been in an accident. I rushed to the hospital and discovered that he had had a seizure while driving to work. He had rolled his car on the freeway, but his seat belt saved his life. I took him home that same day. Although his car was destroyed, he suffered only minor cuts and bruises. I begged him not to drive anymore because of what could happen, not only to him, but to someone else. I had him almost convinced to give up his job, or move to another part of town where he could easily take the train to work. I even paid my friends behind his back to give him rides so he would get there safely. He was very independent, however, and his friends helped him to rent a car. I worried, but let it go, believing that God would look out for him, and that bad things don't happen to good people.
Monday, March 17th, 2008 was the worst day of my life. I woke up to missed calls and text messages, something about an accident. I called Rod's cell phone. It rang 4 times and went to voicemail, I called the desk where he always answered at work...some strange voice answered the phone. I called his friend who had sent the text message. He said Rod was at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, but they wouldn't tell us anything because we weren't family. I got in the car and started to go there, but stopped at my friends house because I feared the worst, and didn't want to be alone when the news came. We were told soon after that, that Rod had died at the hospital, about 2 hours after his car was seen veering off the Interstate 5 at a high rate of speed, vaulting off of a small cliff, and slamming into a eucalyptus tree.
Later that same day, I learned that my poor friend of 15 years had been violently thrown through the windshield of the 2007 Nissan Altima on impact, and suffered devastating injuries to almost every part of his body. I never got to see him, or have any of his ashes. I just pray to God that he never regained consciousness from the seizure, never felt any pain or had any awareness of how badly he was hurt. He died at the age of 42. He was the best friend I ever had, and the only person who ever really loved me. My life is hollow and empty without him. All I have to be thankful for is the wonderful time we had together. He taught me how to be at peace, how to appreciate the world around me, and how to love myself. Thank you, Rod, for all the love, patience, and uncountable gifts you gave me. You were always and will always be my angel! I love you!