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Reverend “Rod” Dondorf

  • On December 5, 2020

Reverend Rodney ‘Rod’ Dondorf of Washington, PA, age 74, peacefully passed away November 23, 2020 due to complications following a debilitating stroke. Just like he dealt with all experiences in life, Rod managed to battle with strength and grace. On his final day, his loving children who he cherished more than anything else in the world, were by his side.

Rod was born in Baltimore and raised in Dundalk, Maryland. He was the adoring son of the late Doris and Philip ‘Pete’ Dondorf. Along with his parents, Rod and his loving, younger sister, Phyllis, took great delight in being by the ocean and enjoyed humble, but epic vacations each summer at the Delaware and Maryland beaches with their fun-loving and large extended family.

Rod graduated from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts and the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg with a Master of Divinity. During his lifetime, Rod was a faithful pastor who led six Lutheran congregations. He and his family moved from Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota, and finally to Pennsylvania as he dedicated his life to preaching the gospel, visiting and supporting members in crisis, and developing his community.

Throughout his life and into retirement, Rod’s hobbies included photography, gardening, and listening to classical and rock music.  He also delighted in watching football, baseball, wrestling, James Bond movies, and Jeopardy. Rod was passionate about reading the bible, attending church, and studying religion. He was known to love spending time with his family, going to the familiar east coast beaches, and eating crab cakes and steamed Maryland Blue Crab.

One of Rod’s biggest accomplishments was being a father. His children, Gretchen and Philip Eric were his pride and joy. Gretchen and Philip Eric felt blessed to have never doubted their father’s love for them and were loyal to him each and every day of his life. Rod was always there for them through their ups and downs and taught them to be independent, hard-working, sensitive, and to have a sense of humor. Rod also took great pleasure in spending time with his spirited and entertaining granddaughters, Dylan and Vivian. He was excited to celebrate and meet his first grandson, Brody, who was born a week after Rod passed away.

Rod enjoyed the company of his companion and caregiver, Leah, and their dog Lu Lu. The two shared the same interests in Scottie dogs, going out to eat, and sweets.  Their special friendship rendered mutual comfort, love, and support for one another.

Rod is survived by his daughter, Gretchen Federbusch, her husband Ryan, and their daughter Dylan of Plum; his son, Philip Eric Dondorf, his wife Laurie, and their children Vivian and Brody of Dormont; his sister, Phyllis Marsh, of Maryland; his niece Katie Szakelyhidi, and husband Nick of Virginia; his caregiver and companion, Leah Garbinski of Washington; his dog Lu Lu; and the mother of his children, Jaan Harris of Virginia. Rod was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Doris and Philip ‘Pete’ Dondorf and his dear brother-in-law, Case Marsh.

Rod’s life was celebrated and honored November 27 at Pittsburgh Cremation and Funeral Care, McMurray, with an intimate, private family funeral.  Rod’s pastor and friend, Reverend Robert Grewe of First Lutheran Church delivered a heartfelt eulogy. The family asks that any donations made in Rod’s honor go to the First Lutheran Church, 92 West Walnut Street, Washington, PA 15301.

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1 Comment

Carrie Pagley
  • Dec 13 2020
Gretchen, you and your family are in my heart. My deepest sympathy.