It is with sadness that we announce that Rodney Ross Petzak, 90, of Reno, Nevada passed away peacefully on Saturday morning August 19, 2023. Rod was a loving and devoted Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather and Godfather. He was born in Manistee, Michigan on February 10, 1933, to Joseph Petzak and Elsie Ada Jane Ross. Rodney grew up with fond memories of spending time at his family’s Ross Dairy Corporation and with his cousins swimming and fishing in Lake Michigan. On various occasions he went back to Manistee to visit his many relatives there.
His mother, Elsie, played a great role in Rodney’s life and that of his children, always being there to help and support them. He often paid tribute to her for being a very special influence in their lives. He and his mother moved to California in his early teens and he became a star football player at Wilson High School in Long Beach. There he met his first wife and mother of their sons, Beverly Phillips, who pre-deceased him.
As a young adult he joined the United States Marine Corps and was awarded a Commendation Medal with Combat V from the Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division in honor of “his heroic service in the line of duty”. The citation reads in part, “While serving as a tank retriever commander on May 28, 1953, in the Korean War, Corporal Petzak was given an extremely hazardous mission and displayed remarkable resourcefulness under the devastating hostile barrage. Corporal Petzak’s determined efforts, indomitable spirit and outstanding attention to duty served as an inspiration to all who observed him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Military.”
After the war Rodney completed his AA degree at Orange Coast College and began real estate ventures, obtaining a General Contractor’s license and working at Electronic Memories, where he was a Master Planner. Later he built homes in Sacramento, CA.
He was a member of the prestigious Los Angeles Adventurer’s Club and the Panama Diving Club. He spent time in the Darien Jungle with the Cuna Indians, learning their way of life. Later he owned and operated The Diamond Bar Inn, a hunting and fishing lodge in Jackson, Montana where he met his wife of 43 years, Sharyn Appolloni. From that day on he was forever devoted to her happiness.
In his later years he was ordained a priest and served the congregation at St. John’s in the Wilderness Episcopal Church at Glenbrook, Lake Tahoe. During this time, he also worked for the Nevada Department of Prisons as a Corrections Officer, from which he retired at age 75.
He is survived by his wife, Sharyn Appolloni, his sons (Jerry, Mike, Rick and Ron), his goddaughter Heather, grandchildren (Ben, Heather, Mandy, Jackie, Brian, Beverly, Kiersten, Ashley, Natalie and Allen) and 16 great-grandchildren.
Rod was known as a man who didn’t hold back on what he thought. He was also known for teaching his grandchildren how to swim and how to mind their manners. On their many visits he took them to the local bookstore and had them pick out several books to read. He encouraged everyone to continue educating themselves and working hard. He wasn’t afraid to try things and said he lived his life “My Way”, which is the song that always meant a lot to him, along with the line from Invictus, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” Poet William Ernest Henley.
He will be forever remembered for his achievements and the stories he loved to tell. He read the newspaper and watched the news daily. He enjoyed discussing politics and ran for local office.
He was an active person who loved skiing, hunting, fishing, train travel, sailing, hiking, gold prospecting and traveling. He also appreciated spending time with fellow marines at the many Marine Corps birthday balls and 1st Marine Division reunions and campouts he attended. He was a member of the VFW, the American Legion, The Korean War Veterans Association, and the Tankers Association.
With his family he especially enjoyed sharing knowledge of investment strategies, money management, history and travel. He was admired for the determination he showed in recovering from his many surgeries, being known as the “miracle man” and the “bionic man.” Rod had many pets throughout his life, which always remained dear to him.
He will be missed by everyone who loved him, but will forever live in our hearts with all the memories we hold dear. May he rest in peace.
A private military honors service and inurnment will be conducted at the Northern Nevada Veteran’s Cemetery at a date to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Northern Nevada Humane Society. https://nevadahumanesociety.org
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared to the Petzak family at the following Simple Cremation website: https://simplecremation.us/obituaries/