Rod, an only child, is preceded in death by parents, James Alden Malone and Agnes Elizabeth Malone and his wife Wanda six weeks ago. He is survived by his children, daughter Tammy and her wife Lisa, son Douglas and his wife DeAnna, and daughter Holly and her husband Steve; grandchildren, Jake, Jenni, Addison, and Hutchison; aunt Dorothy Cruz; brother in law Cullen Kay; nephews, Ricky, and Gregg; nieces, Cynthia, and Gina; great nephew Kristopher; and several cousins.
Rod was born on May 31, 1940 in Jacksboro, TX. He graduated from Jacksboro High School in 1958 and moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas and pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering. On June 4, 1960, Rod married his high school sweetheart, best friend and the love of his life, Wanda Faye Kay. Rod and Wanda purchased their first home in Austin in 1961 and soon after the couple welcomed three children into their lives and began raising them and teaching them the skills to lead a productive life.
Upon graduation, Rod pursued a career in electrical engineering. He was employed by several engineering companies and began a startup with a close friend Jerry Connor in the early 70’s. Among his accomplishments in electrical engineering were a few inventions and several utility patents. During this time and on one hot summer weekend, a work friend invited Rod to go sailing on Lake Travis. He was soon smitten with the sport and began to sail competitively. Rod became very involved in the Austin Yacht Club, where he served as Commodore and won many races, awards, and trophies, including the Governor’s Cup. Through this activity he met Norman Rylander who owned a sailboat shop named Sailing Imports which was located on Anchor Lane near the old Mueller Airport. Rod proposed to Norman that he would work for him for one year, without pay, and if he doubled his business he had to agree to make him his partner in Sailing Imports. Rod more than doubled the business and became Norman’s partner and was off and running in the boat business. Rod, with Wanda by his side, ultimately purchased Norman Rylander’s shares of Sailing Imports and became the sole owners of the sailboat dealership.
In 1979 Rod met an energetic young man, Buzz Watkins, who was interested in starting a snow sports business. It did not take long for Rod to recognize Buzz’s capabilities and business acumen. Rod and Buzz became business partners and combined the two businesses together into what became the Sail & Ski Center. Rod and Buzz’s partnership has thrived for over 40 years as Sail & Ski grew to be one of the best boat dealerships in the country.
Rod was exposed early on in life to entrepreneurship and how businesses operate, his parents owned and operated a hardware store, a working farm, and several pieces of real estate, which gave Rod a solid foundation and cultivated the passion for business he had throughout his life.To say Rod was passionate about Sail & Ski, is an understatement. As an entrepreneur, a visionary and a great leader, Rod was the definition of “choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” He genuinely loved to immerse himself in the business, talking to everyone daily, checking in on what was happening in all aspects of it, he never tired of it. He enjoyed teaching, mentoring, and modeling optimism versus pessimism. He had a “can do” attitude and never allowed fear to take over – “if the horse bucks you off, get back on, always.”
Perhaps the thing Rod was most proud of was his family’s involvement in the business. Wanda worked by Rod’s side every single day for almost 40 years. Rod’s son Doug joined the family business at an early age. Following in his proud father’s footsteps, Doug graduated from the University of Texas with a business degree. Rod recognized Doug’s contributions to the business and asked him to join them in ownership and in leading the company towards the award-winning business that it is today. Tammy also joined the family business and developed Sail & Ski’s human resource department and was a store manager making tremendous contribution on everything she worked on. Rod loved working side by side with his family.
Under Rod’s guidance and leadership, Sail & Ski added to its original location in Austin, a dealership in San Antonio, TX, a sales showroom in Lakeway, TX, and Sail & Ski Yacht Club and Sundancer Grill on Lake Travis. Sail & Ski employs over 100 employees and serves passionate boaters, water sports and snow sports enthusiasts in central and south Texas. Sail & Ski has been voted by Boating Industry Magazine as the #1 Boat Dealer in North America along with many other accolades, recognitions, and achievements in the boating industry.
Passion for business aside, Rod was a true “my blood is burnt orange” Texas Longhorn fan and a sports fanatic in general. He also enjoyed good food, a good book (business related of course), politics and a “fast” boat ride on a sunny Sunday afternoon. He was dedicated and loyal to the things he found “good” in life, he often stated that if he found something good he stuck with it, which includes people and products. The most important and most meaningful of his lifelong loyalties was to Wanda, and after she became ill he joined her every day for breakfast and dinner, he was devoted to her. Rod was also a very proud father and grandfather. He believed that the best thing he could do for his children and grandchildren was to model a strong work ethic, dedicate himself to an ideal, set and accomplish goals, develop a positive mindset, seek to listen, and learn and never allow fear to stop you from living and achieving your dreams.
The Malone family would like to thank everyone at Sail & Ski, past and present, for your hard work, dedication, and selfless contributions in making Sail & Ski the nationally recognized dealership that it is and will continue to be. Thank you to the many manufacturers, retail associations, boating industry associations and associates that Rod considered friends, cohorts, mentors, and leaders in an industry he loved so passionately. Special thanks to Buzz and Kathy Watkins for their years of loyalty, dedication, fun, friendship, and love.
A Celebration of Life for Rod Malone will be held on Sunday, September 16, 2018 from 1-5PM at Sail & Ski Yacht Club 16406 Stewart Rd. Austin, TX 78734, (Sundancer Grill will cater on the grounds). Summer attire is appropriate, as it may be hot.
James Alden MaloneFather (deceased)
Agnes Elizabeth MaloneMother (deceased)
Wamda MaloneWife (deceased)
He is survived by his children, daughter Tammy and her wife Lisa, son Douglas and his wife DeAnna, and daughter Holly and her husband Steve; grandchildren, Jake, Jenni, Addison, and Hutchison; aunt Dorothy Cruz; brother in law Cullen Kay; nephews, Ricky, and Gregg; nieces, Cynthia, and Gina; great nephew Kristopher; and several cousins.