OBITUARY

Rodney Cecil Sturdivant

July 21, 1955February 9, 2017
Play Tribute Movie

Rodney C. Sturdivant, Major (U.S. Air Force Ret.), 61, born in Memphis, TN departed his Earthly home on Thursday February 9, 2017. A memorial service and celebration of Rodney’s life will be held at Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home, 5701 Hwy 277 South, Abilene on Friday, February 17, 2017 at 11:30a.m. with Greg Clemmer officiating. The family will gather an hour prior to the service to welcome friends and family for a visitation. Following the service, a procession to the Texas State Veterans Cemetery located at 7457 West Lake Road, Abilene will occur where interment with full Military Honors will be conducted at 1:00p.m. Friday afternoon. Rodney was born on July 21, 1955 to Winfred and Mary Hill Sturdivant. He graduated in 1979 from the University of Tennessee with his Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science and then in 1988 obtained his Master's Degree in management from Webster University in Missouri. Rodney achieved his aeronautical rating of Master Navigator while serving with the U.S. Air Force. He flew on several platforms including, as an Instructor Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) for the B-1 Bomber at Dyess Air Force Base, TX; a Squadron Instructor WSO Navigator for the KC-135 at Altus AFB, OK; and, also as a Radar Navigator on the FB-111 while serving at Pease AFB, NH. One of his most notable awards while serving our country is the General Curtis LeMay Trophy received in 1989 as a member of the Best Bomber Crew. Rodney also won the award for the Best FB-111 Crew that same year. Since retiring from the USAF, Rodney has worked as an Instructor WSO for C2 Technologies training B1-B WSO’s at Dyess AFB, TX. He earned his certifications and licenses as a Fischereischein (German fishing license) and Jagdschein (German hunting license) while stationed in Germany. Rodney’s love of the outdoors and passion for teaching others were intertwined in all aspects of his life and he served our community in many ways. Closest to his heart was his volunteer work with Texas Parks and Wildlife, both as a Hunter Safety Education Instructor for the past 15 years and as Area Chief for Coleman and Taylor Counties for the last ten years. Rodney trained his 1000th student in the fall of 2015, with a total of 1248 students trained before his retirement as a volunteer in early 2016. Serving as the Hunter Safety Education Area Chief, he trained and certified Hunter Safety Education Instructors so that the hunting tradition continues in Texas. Rodney also volunteered as a Certified Hunt Master with the Texas Youth Hunting Program which brings hunting opportunities to youth who might not otherwise have those opportunities. He worked selflessly with ranchers and conducted several youth hunts in the local area. Rudyard Kipling once wrote, “For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” We are stronger and better stewards because of Rodney. Now, he sits alongside our Creator and is honored to be among the Greatest of Jaegers where he can continue to serve. Rodney has also volunteered as an Instructor with the Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade since 2001, and with the Waterfowl Brigade since 2013. As part of the Texas Brigades system, these camps provide intensive and wildlife-centered learning opportunities for youth where they can learn leadership and public speaking skills concentrated around the habitat needs of a wildlife species such as the Northern Bobwhite quail or the waterfowl species indigenous to and migrating through Texas. Additionally, Rodney mentored youth with local Boy Scout Troop No. 272 as they helped to develop and improve habitat for Eastern Bluebirds and other native species as part of their outdoor learning opportunities and service projects. Rodney was a founding Charter Member of the Big Country Texas Master Naturalists Chapter and helped bring this volunteer organization to Taylor County and the Big Country. He has assisted with training and also with local service projects at Abilene State Park and the Abilene Zoo for the past 14 years. Learning and volunteerism were his guiding principles. As a Certified Master Gardener and former member of the local chapter, and as President for the local Big Country Bird Hunters Association in 2005 and 2006, these selfless acts of service prove witness of a grateful heart willing to serve others, especially our youth. Rodney had such a special gift of humor and wittiness. Those who knew him truly appreciate the joy he gained in sharing a joke and the pleasure he had when seeing you smile. We will miss his infectious sense of humor. He left us too soon, but he left us with so many cherished memories and we will remember those in our heart with a smile. Rodney was preceded in death by his mother, Mary Hill Sturdivant, and his father, Winfred Cecil Sturdivant both of Guilt Edge, Tennessee. He is survived by his best friend, sweetheart and soulmate, Melissa Clifton Sturdivant of Coleman. Although they found each other late in life, this time was truly a blessing from God. Rodney is also survived by their daughter, Katherine Wooten and her fiancé, Gary Goldman, of Leander; mother-in-law, Connie Clifton of Coleman, TX; brother, Ray and his wife, Chrysty, of Dallas, TX; sister, Sherry Sturdivant of Rowlett, TX; niece, Nikki Newton Scheel of Nevada, TX; and nephew, Brian Newton of Rowlett, TX. Although scattered around the country and world, the distance and time cannot deny the love and happiness shared with close friends and family, both near and far, over the years. We cannot forget the special members of our family who have also brought so much enjoyment while in the field – our bird dogs. Mac and Pete have met up with Rodney and are quartering in front finding those birds. Orion, Bruno, and Hexe will meet up with him later for they have more birds to find here. The family would like to extend their sincerest appreciation to the generous staff of Hospice of the Big Country for their support and love of Rodney and the family during this time. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Rodney’s memory to St. Jude Children’s Hospital; West Texas REHAB’s Hospice of the Big Country; the American Cancer Society; or, the Youth Scholarship Fund for the Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade or the Waterfowl Brigade. The Youth Scholarship Fund pays the tuition costs for youth to attend the summer camps when they cannot afford to on their own. Donations for the youth camps can be directed to the attention of Texas Brigades, 3660 Thousand Oaks Drive, Suite 126, San Antonio, 78247. Or, please feel free to donate to a charity of your choosing.

Services

  • Gathering of Family and Friends Friday, February 17, 2017
  • Memorial Service Friday, February 17, 2017

Memories

Rodney Cecil Sturdivant

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
Cindy Williams

March 6, 2017

So very sorry to hear of Rodney's passing. He was a great friend and classmate of mine at the University of Tennessee. We had a close-knit class in Wildlife & Fisheries, and many of us have a heavy heart to hear of the loss. So sorry we could not attend as we didn't hear of his passing until the services. May he rest in peace and may time heal your pain. Cindy Williams

Okie Okerstrom

February 17, 2017

Melissa, I am truly sorry for your loss. Rodney will be missed and not forgotten. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Nancy Baker

February 15, 2017

Melissa, I send my sincere condolences for the passing of you dear friend and husband, Rodney. Prayers for comfort and peace to you and all the family.

Kevin Clifford

February 14, 2017

You have my deepest sympathy! It was my honor to work with Rod while at CBD Training. His expertise was highly respected and always solicited!

Kit Horne

February 14, 2017

Melissa, I was so sorry to hear of Rodney's passing. Praying for strength for you in the days and weeks to come.

Kit Horne

February 14, 2017

Sorry about the sad news. Please accept my condolences.
Pooh Vongkhamdy, STC, RI. Life Time Member AIANEA.

Jacki` Bakker

February 14, 2017

Melissa, Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers during this time of sadness. I may not be there, but you are still part of my Texas family and I hurt for you and with you.

Mackey Morgan

February 13, 2017

Melissa, I am saddened by this news! May the God of peace be with you during this time of mourning.

Dale Rollins

February 13, 2017

I first met Rodney circa '98 at a Quail Appreciation Day in Capitola (small community in Fisher Co.). Soon thereafter, when he was heading up a field trip for Big Country Chapter of Master Naturalists, I conned him into serving as a "Covey Leader" at the 8th Batt of Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade. His covey ("Gambel's quail") earned Top Covey and the die was cast. For the past 17 years Rodney has been an indentured servant to RPBoB. He has led the snake-training session, Hunter's Role in Conservation, "phrase of the day", and helped out with Top Covey and Early Bird Special hunts. He always entertained us with stories of hunting in Germany (where he was stationed for several years).
For the past dozen or so years, he has shared a vespers program with the cadets. I hope I can always remember the 4 key points therein: (a) don't be afraid to try something new . . . you never know where it will take you (RS was a wildlife major at Univ. Tenn. but wound up as a navigator/bombardier in the U. S. Air Force), (b) always bring your 'A game' (no room for mediocrity when moving 550 knots at low altitude in the B-1 Bomber), (c) "officers compete" (if you don't carpe diem someone else will), and (d) how to handle adversity and failure (he "bombed", i.e., blew his opp, in the USAF's "Top Gun" competition for navigators and was the laughing stock of his outfit . . . but the next year, he came back and won it all.

Maj. Sturdivant's footprint on the RPBoB is indelible. Prayers to Melissa Clifton Sturdivant and all of Rodney's family. His Texas Brigades' family will surely, and sorely, miss him. I'm so glad that Krissa and I had a chance to visit he and Melissa about 2 weeks ago . . . he still brought his "A game."

Deb Terry

February 13, 2017

A best friend and mentor for all my life, Rodney never wasted a moment of his life, giving in every way possible. He experienced life to its fullest, touching many lives. He will never be forgotten. He loved you dearly, Melissa. He was the happiest in life with you! The beer dog has run (last dog to run in a Hunt test is called the beer dog, signifying alcoholic beverages may be consumed) let the celebration begin!

FROM THE FAMILY

Mother

FROM THE FAMILY

Daddy

FROM THE FAMILY

Mother and Daddy

FROM THE FAMILY

I was born at an early age on July 21, 1955.

FROM THE FAMILY

Even at an early age, Ray had that joie de vie and he has never lost it.

FROM THE FAMILY

With Sherry, holding up Daddy’s stringer of bream.

FROM THE FAMILY

2nd Grade at Lucy Elementary School in Lucy, Tennessee

FROM THE FAMILY

3rd Grade at Lucy Elementary School in Lucy, Tennessee

FROM THE FAMILY

4th Grade at Lucy Elementary School in Lucy, Tennessee

FROM THE FAMILY

5th Grade at Lucy Elementary School in Lucy, Tennessee