Juan G. (Rod) Rodriguez was born on Dec. 23, 1920 in Espanola, New Mexico, the oldest of seven children. He graduated from Santa Fe High School and received a Bachelor of Science from New Mexico State University in 1943.
Rod was inducted into the United States Army in the fall of 1943. He had obtained a civilian pilot's license while in college and initially trained as a pilot intending to join the Army Air Corps. But he was then placed into the 422nd Infantry Regiment, 106th Division, as a technical sergeant because the Army had an increased need for ground forces.
He was deployed to Belgium in November 1944 and wounded and captured at St. Vith by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge six weeks later. He spent the next four months as a prisoner of war in prison camps and being force-marched around Germany by the German Army.
He was liberated on April 16, 1944 by Allied forces. He returned home to the United States where he received a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and an honorable discharge on Dec. 7, 1945.
Rod attended graduate school on the GI Bill, at Ohio State University where he met his future wife, Lorraine Ditzler. They married in Wooster, Ohio in April 1948 while he was in graduate school. Together they raised four daughters.
He received his M.S. (1946) and his Ph.D. (1949 from Ohio State and accepted a position at the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture. He served there as a professor of Entomology from 1949 until his retirement in 1989, His research centered on the nutritional ecology of insects and mites.
He was active in many professional organizations. Among his awards and honors were the University of Kentucky Alumni Association Distinguished Research Award, the Thomas Poe Cooper Award for Distinguished Achievement in Research, the American Registry of Professional Entomologists' Outstanding Research in Acarology Award, and the Kentucky Academy of Science Distinguished Scientist Award.
Rod was on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Acarology, the President of the North Central Branch of the Entomological Society of America, the President of the Kentucky Academy of Sciences, and Chairman of the Centennial Committee of the Entomological Society of America, among many other distinguished offices. He was named a Fellow of three professional societies: the Royal Entomological Society of London, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Entomological Society of America.
After retirement, Rod and Lorraine enjoyed traveling in the Americas and abroad. He became active in the Ex-POW movement in the 1980s and continued that activity for the rest of his life, serving as Commodore of the Daniel Boone Chapter of the American Ex-Prisoners of War service organization. He was physically active throughout his life, playing tennis, golf, racquetball and swimming into his 90's. He remained active in the Roman Catholic Church his entire life.