Many folks associated with the preservation of the Rio Grande and the model railroading community in Colorado were saddened to learn about the sudden and unexpected passing of Rod von Bernuth on July 23rd.
Rod’s impact to those of us who loved and modeled the Grande was immeasurable. Rod was a lifelong fan, collector and modeler of the D&RGW. He was a fixture in the model railroading hobby around the Colorado area for years. Despite the fact that Rod really didn’t like to draw to much attention to himself it seems everyone knew who he was and valued his vast knowledge of the Rio Grande’s history. Some would go to just hang out with Rod and “talk Grande” when he for a time owned his small hobby shop in Grand Junction.
His interest in the Rio Grande lead to his far reaching involvement in the society. He contributed to keeping the railroad’s story alive through his volunteering with the Society. Through the years he served in various roles from manning the society booth at train shows recruiting folks to join, serving as the Green Light Editor for a time, to later serving on the Board of Trustees and eventually served as RGM&HS President from 2012 to 2015.
Rod took over as President in 2012 during a pivotal time for the Society which was having some financial challenges with raising publication costs. Through his tireless work and leadership neither he or the board ever sacrificed the quality of our publications and the Society was able to continue on.
In 2015 after many years of outstanding work, Dick Eaton, Editor of the Prospector at the time had to step down. Rod again answered the call and took on the dual roles of President and Editor of The Prospector to which the Society was greatly in his debt. Rod continued on as the Editor of The Prospector after his term as President until in 2017 when he needed to focus on his health.
Rod never really stopped helping the Society. In 2020 the Board of Trustees approached Rod about becoming the Archivist for the Society after he made a large donation of D&RGW memorabilia and papers to the Society. He was currently serving in that Archivist role working on organizing our Archive operations at the time of his passing.
We will be sharing more news and details on the memorial being planned when we know more. We'll be posting any updates here in the Green Light.
You can find his obituary here: https://www.tributearchive.com/obituaries/25445797/george-rodney-vonbernuth/wall
Words are not enough to explain emotions when you lose a friend all too soon. You will be missed old friend!
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