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Rod Buckholdt

Obituary of Rod Buckholdt


Mr. Rod Buckholdt finally allowed himself the complete rest that he deserves. To be sure, it could be said that he did so reluctantly and stubbornly, on his own terms, and with the same heroic dignity and respect and love that he always displayed for his family and closest of friends.


After a fully- and beautifully-lived life, Rod made his way into the cool ocean breeze on the evening of April 14, 2022 at home with friends and family nearby. His death was due to natural causes.


As a resident of Santa Cruz County for 60 years, Rod built a stable and secure life for himself and his large family the old-fashioned way--with ambition, persistence, loyalty, integrity, hard work, and not nearly enough sleep for a typical human. While dabbling with would-be careers in automotive repair, in food catering, and in public utility work with PG&E, he finally found his ultimate niche in the building trades. His local reputation as an outstanding residential and commercial building contractor is obvious by the number of clients past and present who remained friendly with Rod throughout the years, and who continued to seek his advice professionally and personally long after their original building project was completed.


Rodney is the second son of Lavonda and Leo Buckholdt, and the beloved brother of Buddy, Bonnie, Tommy, and Ricky Buckholdt. Little brother Tommy was present throughout the creation and development of Rod's construction business, and continued as his brother's top foreman at Buckholdt Quality Builders until Rod reluctantly decided to close shop for good. Tommy still resides in the Santa Cruz area and continues creating his craftwork. One hopes that Tommy will find some comfort in the thought that right now his two parents and three siblings are already welcoming the arrival of Rod's giant spirit into their love-filled realm. 


Rod was a proud American patriot, and was humbled by the tremendous sacrifices the Buckholdt family has made in honor of their country. Rod's big brother Buddy lost his life far too young as a helicoptor crewman in Vietnam; Rod's father served in the US Navy during WW2; and his paternal Grandfather not only served overseas with Roosevelt's "Rough Riders" but also worked on the creation of the Panama Canal.


Rod married his highschool sweetheart Bernice Wong while they were still essentially children themselves, and together they successfully created their amazing children Cynthia Cassar Buckholdt and Ryan Buckholdt--but only after experiencing the horrible trauma of losing their first child Buddy as an infant. To the very end of Rod's life, Bernice has remained a close friend and responsible parenting partner not only to Rod but also to Rod's subsequent wife, Virginia.


Rod and his beloved wife of thirty-two years, Virginia Ledesma, were first introduced by Virginia's big brother Bob Ledesma-- Rod's best-friend slash partner-in-crime slash mentor slash counselor slash counselee slash sub-contractor slash client (slash, slash, etc.). Virginia's two adult children Sonni Cruz and Terry Rogers were promptly and permanently received by Rod as his own, and have remained so. In the years since, the entire extended Ledesma family has melded with the Buckholdt family, which was already melded with the Wong family of Santa Cruz. That same multiculturally diverse family community, which includes Rod's six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, joins Virginia in mourning the loss of Rodney. Her loss, while uniquely difficult, is also a loss to us all.


But together this huge family also joins Virginia in struggling to maintain life without Rod's physical presence, and in maintaining the tremendous legacy which was masterfully built by the blood, sweat, and tears of Rodney Bruce Buckholdt. Rod's greatest ongoing concern was the continued welfare of his family and friends, and only as a unified team can we hope to fill the tremendous gaps he has left behind. The prospect is daunting to all of us mere mortals, but we will work diligently to keep our personal promises to Rod, just as Rod always worked so diligently to keep the promises he made to his family, his friends, and his clients.


A small memorial gathering will be held April 30, 2022. Please consider a kind act of charity with either your time or funds made to the Special Olympics of Northern California. 

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