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Abel Rodrigues

Abel J. "Rod" Rodrigues

Resident of Saratoga

Abel Rodrigues passed peacefully Saturday night, July 17, in Saratoga at the age of 88. Born in San Jose in 1922, Abel immediately excelled in sports. At San Jose High School, Abel led the varsity basketball team in scoring, and to two Championships. He also played baseball and was all league in both sports. So well known was he for his high school basketball exploits, that he was asked to play in a National AAU basketball tourney (as a high schooler) in Denver, CO, where he had an outstanding tournament. He was then heavily recruited by almost every major college basketball program, but decided to stay close to home and play junior college ball at Hartnell College, in Salinas. There he broke several records, led the team in scoring and made the All State team. After stints in both the Marines and the Navy (WW 2 veteran), in which he played baseball on the top service team at the time with many major leaguers, Abel enrolled at the University of San Francisco, where he played basketball for the 'dean' of all coaches, Pete Newell. Newel once said that Abel was 'one of the best defensive forwards I have ever seen'. While at USF, he played against the University of Utah, who at the time were the National Champions. At the end of the season, Utah picked him as one of the five best players they played against all year. Eventually he was the first player drafted out of USF into the NBA (1947) by the Washington Capitals, coached by the legendary 'Red"Auerbach, where he played some years but had knee problems.

Abel also played a great deal of fast pitch softball, including playing for the Hollister Cowboys. Another passion of his was golf, and through this vehicle he was able to play all over the world with such famous professionals as Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, and Billy Casper, just to name a few. Golf proved to be a good choice as he enjoyed playing many rounds with his wife of almost 60 years, Sandy Rodrigues. Together they travelled and played golf in such places as St. Andrews Scotland and the Bahamas.

Abel also had a great passion for coaching kids and coached everything from Little League to AYSO soccer. In 1974, he spearheaded an effort to build a new baseball field for Senior Little League, so kids age 13-15, would have a field to play on. The field still is being used to this day and is located at Congress Springs park. This was a very typical of Abel, who also gave of his time and energy to everyone, and cared very deeply for his family and friends.

After a successful career selling concrete and construction materials, Abel founded R&W Concrete Contractors in 1975. R&W Concrete built and completed many high profile projects such as the San Franciso Cable Car renovation, the Moscone Convention Center, and several large Airport projects. More recently, R&W has worked on the Bay Bridge, as well as several Water Treatment Plants. The company is currently run by son Brian, and this year celebrated 35 years in business. Daugher Sharon has also helped in the company and in 2008, started her own retail boutique business (Tomfoolery) in Grass Valley.

He is preceded in death by his father, Abel J. Rodrigues Sr., his mother Mary Marty, and his stepfather Joe Marty. Also by his brothers William 'Red' Rodrigues and Les Rodrigues. He is survived by wife Sandy Rodrigues, daughter Sharon (Tom) Ernest, son Brian (Jennifer) Rodrigues, and grand children Alicia and Bret Rodrigues.

There will be a small service on Thursday, July 22, 10:00 am, at The Los Gatos Memorial Park (Cathedral), 2255 Los Gatos - Almaden Road, San Jose, CA 95124. Arrangements by DARLING-FISCHER.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on July 21, 2010
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