Rodney Troy Laws, beloved husband, father, brother, and friend, died Sunday, May 14th, 2023, at the age of 52 after a lifelong battle with depression. He is survived by his "best girl" and wife of almost 30 years, Paula Laws; children Haley (Ted) Perry and Tucker Laws; mother and father-in-law Brenda and John Gauthier; mother Jean (John) Sanders; siblings Chris (Bonny) Laws, Jacob (Rachael) Clevenger, and Sarah (Matthew) Almy; plus numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Rod was preceded in death by his adoptive parents Robert and Gwendolyn Laws, biological father Ronald Fleek, brother-in-law, Gabriel Vallie, and sister-in-law, Heidi Errickson.
Born and raised in Michigan, Rod spent his childhood in Kalamazoo and Mattawan. Growing up, he was a protective older brother and friend who loved drawing, music, and making people laugh. In high school, Rod was a true "band geek" and played the saxophone and bass drum in the jazz band and marching band. Not long after graduating high school, Rod would meet the love of his life while working at Bilbo's, a Lord of the Rings-themed restaurant in Portage, Michigan. Paula, who worked with Rod at Bilbo's, said she immediately fell in love with his sweet, shy personality and his striking ponytail (obviously!).
In October of 1992, Rod and Paula welcomed their first child, a beautiful daughter named Haley, into the world. From day one, Haley was a total "daddy's girl" through and through. In September of 1994, Rod and Paula married at the United Methodist Church in Lawton with Haley as their flower girl. A few years later in October of 1997, the family of four was complete with the birth of Rod and Paula's second child, Tucker. Rod's children were his greatest loves, and he never missed an opportunity to tell them how proud he was of them. Over the last 10 years, Rod was also a host father to 15 exchange students from eight different countries. He formed a special bond with each student and made sure they felt like they were a part of the family, which typically consisted of Rod bestowing a silly nickname upon them. Although being a father was Rod's favorite job, he was also a dedicated and well-loved employee at Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) for the last 20 years.
Rod was best known for his outstanding sense of humor, wild practical jokes, and creative skills in the kitchen. A dish he referred to as "Chili Con Rodney" was a particular favorite of his children and had a secret recipe that may or may not have included an alarming amount of ketchup. But more importantly, Rod was known for his overwhelming empathy, kindness, passion for justice, and willingness to help others. Unwavering in his desire to learn and understand, he always made time and space to listen to the perspectives of others (and engage in a spirited debate or two). A storyteller, philosopher, teacher, and friend, Rod made a major impact on the lives of everyone who knew him, and his unexpected and untimely loss will be felt for many years to come.
A Memorial Service will be held for Rod on Thursday, May 25th, 2023, at 11:00 am at Oak Grove Funeral Home in Manistee, Michigan. Visitation will begin at 10:00 am and a luncheon will follow the service. All are welcome to attend.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like to request donations be made in Rod's honor to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, or to Six Feet Over, a non-profit organization that fights to prevent suicide in Michigan and provides emotional and financial support to those left in the wake of suicide loss.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, 24/7 help is available for free by calling or texting the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. You do not have to fight alone.
Please share a memory with Rod’s family at www.oakgrovefh.com. Arrangements by Oak Grove Funeral Home & Cremation Center in Manistee.