Great-grandfather, chemist, reader, traveler was 103 years old
Rodney Lehman was born in 1920 on a snowy farm near Franklin Grove, Illinois, the first child of LeRoy and Lucile Lehman. A mile from the farm was a simple one-room schoolhouse where Rodney and his sister Lorene received their early education from a teacher who faithfully taught all eight grades. Hard times soon hit the farm belt, so in 1930 his small family headed west to Glendora to live with his recently widowed maternal grandfather.
His growing up years were spent during the Great Depression in Glendora, and in 1937 he graduated from Citrus Union High School. Through a combination of various work opportunities and family support, he managed to complete his graduate studies at La Verne College (now the University of La Verne), graduating in 1941 with a degree in chemistry.
He was a conscientious objector during World War II and was assigned first to logging camps in Oregon and then to Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. There he met and married student nurse, Katherine, in 1945. They lived happily together for over 60 years until her death.
The two began their married life in California at his insistence. He began working as a soil chemist in Claremont. Life began to get livelier when a daughter, Linda, was born in 1947.
He then took a position in a chemistry laboratory at Brogdex Company in Pomona, in a building filled with citrus packaging machines. A few years later, he took a similar role in the Citrus division of Food Machinery Corporation in Riverside, where he worked not only with citrus, but also apples, berries, melons and even eggs. . He was fascinated by the diversity of challenges presented in the chemistry laboratory and continued to work for FMC for almost 30 years, until his retirement in 1982.
Retirement brought the couple to live in Diamond Bar, where they enjoyed playing a lot of tennis and golf with friends. They later returned to Claremont. Every year, the couple took a big trip to many places around the world.
Because of his inquisitive mind and scientific background, he was an avid reader and researched a wide variety of topics that piqued his interest, from religion and the afterlife to gardening and the stock market. His family was amazed at his ability to discuss almost any subject in an intelligent manner.
Not joining clubs or groups, he limited his activities to those of the Diamond Bar Presbyterian Church, and later the Claremont United Church of Christ. For several years, he was also active with Habitat for Humanity and the Joslyn Senior Center in Claremont. His final years were happily spent at the Mount San Antonio Gardens retirement community in Pomona.
He is survived by his daughter, Linda Davidson, of Prescott, Arizona; grandson, Mark Davidson, of Prescott Valley, Arizona; granddaughter, Cheryl Uresti, of Chino Hills; and great-granddaughter, Ava Uresti, also of Chino Hills.
Donations in his memory may be made to the University of La Verne Scholarship Fund at laverne.eduor by check to 1950 Third St., La Verne, CA 91750.
The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to the staff for the excellent care, love and support he received at Mt. San Antonio Gardens during his many years there.
A funeral service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, November 25 at Claremont United Church of Christ’s Memorial Garden, 233 Harrison Ave., Claremont, CA 91711.