Sunday, July 12, 2009


September 6, 1955 – July 6, 2009

Written by Amy Jones
(Please read previous posts to find out more about Rod)

After a 6-month long battle with a rare and aggressive thyroid cancer, Rod McAtee took his last breath at Ventura County Hospital surrounded by his steadfast and loving daughters, Brandy and Jami who never left his side.

His workplace family at Ventura LIFE Magazine lovingly refereed to Rod as “our Harley-Santa-Burly-Burl-Man” and we simply adored him. We had the great honor and privilege of sharing his last two years and watching him blossom creatively.

The twilight of his life was spent helping and supporting his family, co-workers and any stranger in need. Rod’s warm smiles and courtesy were freely extended to all who crossed his path.

Rod knew the joy of sacrifice and service, and went well beyond performing his professional functions to helping with all manner of personal challenges from chauffeuring parents and pets to the doctor to buying groceries and so much more that we could never repay him for with dollars or a thousand kindnesses. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to help, and he was absolutely trustworthy and reliable.

A true and humble community asset, Rod helped to hang numerous local art shows, worked street fair booths, assisted in the set up of charity events, and was always happy to lend a hand to people with glitchy computers.

Rod was a multi-faceted man, who was proud to be a social justice seeking liberal. He attended Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai and once had dreams of being a Catholic priest. A member of the Operating Engineers Local 12th labor union, Rod operated monster-sized earth-moving equipment for many years.

He was a blue jeans and t-shirts kinda guy who loved overnight horse back rides with his children, jaunts to Mexico, following NASCAR races and planning virtual airplane excursions. He loved walking Ventura beaches and the tangle of the Ojai Valley’s ancient Oak trees and meandering creek beds where he once worked as a ranch foreman overseeing horses and avocado orchards.

Rod had a brilliant mind and spoke easily about a wide range of global topics and issues. He was well known and liked by all during his years of helping his family run the Ojai bowling alley.

His last two years were spent at Ventura LIFE Magazine where he was absolutely loved as part of the family from the first introduction. He hand delivered hundreds of thousands of magazines and discovered his talent for taking photographs. He enjoyed attending Ventura festivals and cultural events, capturing beautiful images, many of which were published in several editions.

Rod. You, my dear, made the world a better place. You loved your neighbor as yourself and made humanity your chief business. Every day was a good day to hang out with you to enjoy your silver hair and bushy beard, your funny and kind nature. You will be sorely missed and will live on in the hearts of those who loved you.

Rod McAtee is survived by his daughters Brandy & Jami McAtee, his son Dale Hurt, his seven grandchildren: Dallas, Alexandra, Shayleen, Austin, Dylan, Tosh and Ismael, and his sister Judge Linda McAtee. A celebration of his life will take place on July 24th from 6-9 p.m. at Serra Park (formerly known as Grant Park) where the historic mission cross looks over the city. Rod loved to go to Serra Park at sunset to take pictures and to remember the special times he shared with his kids there when they were young. All are welcome. Please rsvp by sending an email to:

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