Rodney James Fink, 88, went to his Heavenly Home on February 3, 2023. He was born on April 10, 1934, to the late Lawrence and Alberta (Noellsch) Fink in Oregon, Missouri, arriving before the doctor did. He had an older sister Anita Kurtz (Wayne) (deceased) and is survived by his younger brother Byron Fink (Dana).
After high school, Rodney enlisted in the Naval Reserves as a Seaman Recruit. He later applied and was accepted into Officer Candidate School. Unbeknownst to Rodney, he would find the love of his life in the Navy while stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Rodney was an air/photo intelligence officer with the Mobile Intelligence Production Unit and he met Bertha, a Navy Nurse, Ensign. After a brief courtship, they declared their love for each other on July 13, 1958 in Bertha’s home town of Osage, City, Kansas. Rodney and his family ultimately made Macomb, Illinois their home. In later years, he and Bertha followed in his parents’ footsteps and became snowbirds in Harlingen, Texas.
Rodney finished his Undergraduate, Masters and PhD at the University of Missouri - Go Tigers! Rodney was an Area Agronomist in Iowa, Instructor at the University of Missouri, Associate Professor at Murray State University and Western Illinois University where he was promoted to Professor and then Chairman of the Department of Agriculture in 1972. In 1974, he was appointed Dean of the College of Applied Sciences which included Departments of Agriculture, Computer Sciences, Industrial Education and Technology, Home Economics, Law Enforcement Administration and Military Science.
Rodney and his wife, Bertha, have four children, Ross (Lisa), Lori, Brenda and Lisa (Tim). Rodney and Bertha’s family grew with 9 grandchildren [Rachel (Craig), Rhett (Madyson), Paige (Matt), Michaela (fiancé Peter), Ian (deceased), Kyle, Jillian, Sean and Connor) and 8 great grandchildren (Gavin, Adalyn, Layla, Jadyn, Mckenzie, Noah, Annabeth and Runyon). Rodney’s grandchildren and great grandchildren brought him great joy – and it was a rare day that Grandpa and Grandma Fink weren’t there to celebrate special occasions with them.
Rodney’s career continued to evolve as he took on global roles consulting for various projects involving under-developed countries. He worked with USAID and other programs primarily focused in areas of agriculture, education, and business development. His travel took him to over 52 countries. Rodney took a sabbatical leave during his tenure working for the Technological Institute of Monterrey Campus at Queretaro, Mexico joined by Bertha, Brenda and Lisa. Rodney and Bertha spent over two years in Peshawar, Pakistan, where he was advisor to the faculty of the Agricultural University and Research System. While in Pakistan, he was acting team lead during the “Desert Storm” evacuation.
It is no surprise that Rodney has published over 90 articles and has been recognized for numerous achievements including International Honor Award from the US Department of Agriculture, Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for significant contributions to the US Army ROTC at WIU, Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of International Police Education from the Ministry of Interior, Republic of China (Taiwan), the Illinois Bicentennial Honor 200 award, numerous other local and county recognitions including the most recent Proclamation by Mayor Inman declaring February 3, Rodney and Bertha Fink Day in Macomb, Illinois. Rodney also served as Chairman of the McDonough County Board of Review (tax) and Commissioner for the Board of McDonough County Housing Authority.
Rodney’s demonstrated passion for mission work continued through the end of his life. He was service-driven and committed to praying, ministering, and supporting people in need at home and across many countries such as Cuba, Haiti and Mexico. Rodney and Bertha made frequent trips to Mexico in recent years bringing food, sustenance, clothing, crafts, and evangelism.
Rodney along with Bertha supported scholarships at Western Illinois University, Spoon River College, University of Missouri, Baker University – Stormont Vail School of Nursing and various other vocational and educational scholarships in their mission work in Mexico. The communities around him have seen their support of the local hospital, donation of farm land to WIU, diversity initiatives, art enhancements, support of new bus stop shelters, and helping refugees.
Rodney had a love for flying and became a pilot of both single and twin engine planes along with his instructor, instrument and commercial licenses. He enjoyed the freedom and excitement that came with flying the President of WIU and various celebrities including Red Skelton, Bob Hope and Burl Ives to and from Macomb for various events. He also enjoyed farming and his woodworking projects, never growing tired of “fixing” things.
Rodney’s faith was his pillar. He was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church in Macomb, Illinois as well as Wesley United Methodist Church in Harlingen, Texas. He believed we are all children of God, equal in all respects, and deserving of love, support and compassion. He didn’t know a stranger and was a giving and kind person. He will be missed by the love of his life, Bertha, his family, friends and those who have received his random and committed acts of kindness.
A memorial service to celebrate Rodney's life and legacy will take place Sunday, February 12, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church of Harlingen.
In lieu of flowers, donations are welcome in Rodney's memory to one of the following: Wesley United Methodist Church (Mexico Missions) - Harlingen, Texas or Wesley United Methodist Church (Mexico Missions) - Macomb, Illinois.
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