I hope everyone on this board, especially those who knew him, have done more than their share to treat kids right who are just out representing their schools and towns.
I do know there were never any reported incidents involving Rod and anyone from Artesia when he was in high school, and I feel confident that was always the case. That's a lot more than can be said about another couple of schools in that old district, but to me this is more about lessons that should have been learned - and especially by so-called grownups.
Randall, I hope you don't mind. This topic was put in the "Hall Of Fame" board a few years ago. But even though the Hall Of Fame board has been done away with, I was still able to find it by doing a Google search for "Rod David Tucumcari".
Here is the very first post in that thread, the one that NMSooner80 started a few years ago...........
April 9, 1984
No one living in Quay County, N.M., at the time will ever forget it - at least if you were between the ages of 7 and 107.
An ill wind blew on the afternoon of April 9, 1984. But it could also be said that a similar ill wind had been brewing for years. The nice morning had yielded to a cold, windy, unexpected blue afternoon.
Around 2 p.m. on that Monday afternoon, the body of Tucumcari High senior student Rod David was found by city workers in his family's driveway.
Rod David wasn't just any student at THS, though. He was a three-sport superstar of an athlete, an honor student, and pretty much the local "teen idol." Even adult women in the area were known to sneak a peek at the 6-3, blond 18-year-old.
What his petty detractors didn't know about Rod David was that he was never an egomanic about that or anything in life. He was a high achiever who didn't do anything for his own reward.
But, that never stopped people, including many adults from various parts of the state, from taking their shots at him from the time he set foot on the varsity football field in August of 1980. I still believe, 25 years later, that it was a big reason why he took a shotgun to his chest on that fateful Monday.
The news of Rod's suicide became known about the same time as those ugly black clouds came rolling in from the nearby mesa country. News media in Albuquerque and Amarillo were equally shocked. Many of the media types, especially in Albuquerque, seemed to think it could be a prank (or false news tip). But, sadly enough, it wasn't.
At the Quay County Sun (the newspaper that comes out on Wednesdays and Saturdays), the sports page had to be re-done completely. The weekend recaps of the Rattler Relays and other local sports news from Logan, San Jon, Grady and House (Class A schools in the circulation area) had to be pushed to the back-burner.
Schoolmates of Rod's held an impromptu vigil at his parents' house until the funeral on that Wednesday. On that Tuesday, the Rattler baseball team, in the midst of an unmemorable '84 season, just happened to be scheduled to host NMMI in a District 4-3A doubleheader. No one in town seemed to be in the mood for a ballgame, but it was still played. Rod's girlfriend was in attendance, as were most THS athletes in other sports. While Rod didn't play varsity baseball, he still had plenty of friends on the team. They wore black arm-bands as they took the field against the Colts that day.
The NMMI lead-off batter crushed a ball into the hole between shortstop and third. Easy single? Not on this day. A dive and long throw, almost from left field, and it was one amazing out to start the game. Two batters later, the usually-unsure Rattler infield turned an around-the-horn double play to end the inning. People didn't know whether to cheer or cry - because it seemed like the Rattler nine had come up with something "extra" that day.
The Rattlers got their only district sweep of the season that day. I almost felt sorry for the NMMI Colts, because they were in such a no-win situation that day. But they seemed to handle it with a lot of class themselves.
Rod's funeral was held the next afternoon at Rattler Gym. At the time, it was the largest building in Tucumcari that could accommodate the crowd. Albuquerque TV stations even showed up - because this was a major news story that week. Students from all over District 4-3A showed up to pay their respects. It was quite the emotional event.
Some news accounts, in the aftermath, pointed "fingers of blame" at his dad and girlfriend (a major travesty - no 16-year-old girl should have to carry that burden, and it was wrong anyway to blame her) and also at the conduct of some rival coaches and athletes.
But, there were some other nice stories that emerged, and it's still a shame that the "haters" didn't know about them. Someone told of how a little girl approached Rod at a basketball tournament in Clovis for his autograph. Rod not only accommodated the little girl, he also took a few minutes to chat and make a new friend. School kids in Tucumcari used to see him on the street, when he was walking home and their bus was passing, and would yell out, "We love you, Rod David!"
And, a family in Tucumcari, who also attended the Center Street Methodist Church, became friends with the David family. The Litchfields had two kids who just idolized Rod - Leslie and Joe. Leslie was about seven years younger than Rod, and Joe considered Rod his "personal Rattler" and the big brother he never had. Joe was about 10 years younger than Rod. Not every star athlete would have made the effort to befriend the grade-school age kids of this family the way that Rod did.
It still remains a sad memory for me that his detractors either wouldn't, or couldn't, acknowledge that Rod had such a good side to him. I also attended the same church there in Tucumcari, so I saw his charitable, giving, self-less side. But, I guess it was just so "cool" for others to see how ridiculous they could get with him.
At the Rattler Relays two days before his suicide, he dominated as expected, but lost the javelin throw on a fluke to a kid from Raton. Those who remember some of the stories that came out in '84 know that Rod had his problems with not only the Raton football team, but some of its coaching staff as well. I didn't witness what happened after the javelin throw, but people relayed to me that Raton football coach and some of their athletes just razzed Rod well beyond anything that could be considered good-natured competitiveness.
This came on the heels of some ugliness that occurred up in Raton in late September of '83 when the Rattlers played football up there. The most infamous thing happened on the last play of the first half - when Rod broke a fairly long run but got knocked out of bounds on the home sideline. Someone in a Raton coaching jacket was seen standing over him when the players unpiled, and the guy PINNED him to the turf by holding his foot over Rod's throat.
Another play, when seen on game film, showed a gang-tackle of Rod (the Rattlers' best ball-carrier in their veer option from his QB slot), where a Raton player was seen coming into the pile with his fist doubled up. And, adding to the ill feelings was the brush-off that Rod's family and some from THS got when they asked Raton school personnel to deal with the sorry state of affairs.
It was so absurd that not only did Tucumcari end its football series for almost 20 years over the Tigers' group misconduct, but Rod's old high school basketball coach Lucky Carter used the not-close-to-forgotten bad behavior from Raton as a motivator years later. This was when the 1990 Rattlers got paired off against Raton in the 3A state basketball tournament. Carter really wanted to stick it to Raton after what happened that night in '83.
I'll also admit that I got a lot of satisfaction out of learning of Raton's 0-10 football season from the fall of '84, after I moved away myself. I left Tucumcari just before the THS Class of '84 graduated and took a job in the Oklahoma City area.
That Raton fiasco was far from the only incident. To keep it as brief as possible, I'll only mention a couple of more.
In his last high school basketball game, at Lovington, Rod was verbally abused every time he got near their student section. He really did nothing whatsoever to warrant it during the game, and Carter even subbed him out of the game when it was clear the Rattlers weren't going to win.
And, after that game, he needed a police escort to get out of the gym, because some of the non-basketball players from Lovington somehow felt the need to harass him some more. It even appeared that they might "jump" him, merely for being the infamous (to them) Rod David. Same people were probably involved in the "rock through the windshield" incident two years earlier, when the Rattler bus went under the U.S. 82 overpass on NM 18 northbound, but I have no way of knowing for sure.
I did witness what happened in Lovington that night in late February of '84. I didn't see another incident that became sort of famous in that same basketball season. Rod suffered his only basketball loss to Portales, after his 9th grade season, early in the '84 district schedule. He'd given blood at an FCA blood drive the day before and apparently wasn't back to normal yet. When he fouled out of that game at Portales, the story went that he was serenaded with "Rod David Sucks!" "Rod David Sucks!"
Rod took losses hard, because he seemed to blame himself every time, but that only seemed (from what I heard) to egg on the hatred all the more.
Not every kid from Lovington and Portales hated him, though. He'd become friends with a female athlete from Lovington at a church camp, and I imagine she spent lots of time trying to tell his male detractors that they were all wrong about him. And I remember that night the Rattlers lost a heartbreaker to Portales in football at ENMU's Greyhound Stadium, 14-10 - and the opposing QB (Ed Loehr) appeared to give him words of encouragement and to keep his head up. I don't know for sure if the latter happened exactly that way, but if so it would validate my respect for young Mr. Loehr that I had at the time.
Notice, too, that I never mentioned any alleged incidents occurring between Rod and anyone from Artesia. People from Artesia, from that era, should take some pride in that.
I really believe that Rod's detractors targeted him for several reasons, including (A) how his older brothers had done well against those schools and the younger brother had to "pay the price for that," (B) they did see an occasional outburst of emotion from him and mistook it for arrogance (when in fact it was a kid who put so much pressure on himself that he did overreact and blame himself when his teams lost), and (C) they wanted to "get into his head" to affect his performance.
Stan David, Rod's next-older brother (Mick was the oldest), had been interviewed after the suicide. He was quoted in an article as saying how wrong it was how his younger brother was treated, and that "people thrived on how bad (vicious) they could get."
In the end, I think the level of viciousness that many of the "haters" reached stemmed from simple jealousy. It's also pretty pathetic that adults added to it (like Raton Coach and various opposing fans). The kid was a better athlete than they all were, not to mention a better student and more of a "babe magnet" than most of them would ever wish to be. And that was plenty good enough in their pathetic minds to justify cheap shots, verbal or physical.
That isn't the first time I've ever observed that kind of jealousy in the sporting world of New Mexico. Local boxer Danny Romero had people in Albuquerque who just HATED him a decade ago for "being born with a silver spoon in his mouth." I guess that having both parents and no rap sheet was just too heinous of a thing (????).
I've also suspected that ex-Clovis basketball star Cisti Greenwalt got some flak for the same reasons that Rod did (too tall, too good, too blonde, too attractive) back in her day. Even Kenny Thomas, back when he was in high school, got more verbal abuse than I'd ever figure was warranted - and he even "stayed home" to play college basketball. That was probably an unmistakeable case of jealousy there also.
Pretty much half of my life has gone by since then. I was 26 years old then; now I'm 51. All of Rod's siblings are between the ages of 46-51 themselves. Rod's old classmates are all at least 42 years old themselves (his former classmates included Martin, one of his closest friends and a former football teammate, and Alicia, their class president in '83). I'm sure they'll never forget the lessons learned from that tragic week in 1984.
Sadly enough, Joe Litchfield, the little boy in '84 who idolized Rod as his "personal Rattler," is also no longer with us. He passed away in a car wreck around 2001, at the age of 24. I hope he and Rod found each other in the afterlife. At the time of Rod's death, no one wanted to tell Joe what had happened to Rod for the longest time.
The lesson that LOTS of people needed to learn then is that bitter, hateful jealousy does have some consequences and was never "cool" or even remotely justified. And I hope they also stop and think that maybe the kid from Tucumcari who took so much of their abuse throughout high school, before he died at his own hand on April 9, 1984, was really a great kid after all.
It's just such a shame that it took that suicide for at least a few of them to figure out that they would have liked Rod, had they known him, and that not even those they think were "born with a silver spoon in their mouths" were truly human afterall.
I vowed a few years ago to only remember him with smiles, so that promise I still will keep. Two great memories of Rod I have were in the spring of 1983 and both were at track meets. I saw him lead his team to both district and state titles that spring and also saw him win high point as an individual in both meets. I never saw him as happy and satisfied as he was after leading his team to both victories. He truly was happier for his teammates than he was for himself at both of those meets.
As I've gotten older and interacted with hundreds of people, one thing really stands out to me about Rod that I will share with everyone and it is this: He was just flat out a very very nice guy! I never have forgot him and I never will. " WE love you Rod David"
I didn't know Rod near as well as TexasOil did but I knew him well enough to echo what has been said. Very nice guy. His brother Stan and his family live in Denver City. He is the city manager and his wife is the girls volleyball/track coach. All of their kids, 3 daughters and a son, are or have been tremendous athletes. One of them as freshman, started at Texas Tech in volleyball this past season. There is a junior son that is great but has had a few injuries and there is an 8th grade daughter who is outstanding. I beleive there was an older one several years ago, of whom I don't know much about. His wife I have heard was a great athlete as well. Pretty good gene pool. Being 12 miles from Denver City and seeing this family so often, i have thought of Rod often.