Rod Durham, a former contestant on the ABC reality show, Extreme Weight Loss, passed away over the weekend at a motel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 52 years old.
A drama teacher at the Leon High School in Tallahassee, Durham was reportedly spending time visiting the area during the school’s spring break when motel housekeepers found his lifeless body in his room. According to a report by local paper, Tallahassee Democrat, Rod Durham’s cause of death was diabetic shock.
— Variety (@Variety) March 15, 2016
Durham was 49 years old when he joined the 4th season of Extreme Weight Loss in 2014. Starting at nearly 450 pounds, the cheerful drama coach managed to lose more than 180 pounds by the end of his program.
One of the show’s trainers, Heidi Powell expressed her grief over Durham’s passing. On Monday, she posted a photo on Instagram that featured Durham posing between herself and her husband and co-trainer, Chris Powell.
"Heaven just got a lot brighter today when Rod entered the pearly gates," Powell wrote. "While I am selfishly so sad and completely devastated that I won't get to see him on earth anymore, I am rejoicing for the spirit he is carrying with him and spreading to everyone up there," said the caption.
Heaven just got a lot brighter today when Rod entered the pearly gates. While I am selfishly so sad and completely devastated that I won't get to see him on earth anymore, I am rejoicing for the spirit he is carrying with him and spreading to everyone up there...including my dad. Rod, you will be missed terribly. Everything from your kindness, to your warm smile and bear hugs, to your friendship, to you extraordinary ability to make ANYONE (including me) feel special. YOU are special. And will never be forgotten. Love you BIG, and can't wait to be welcomed into heaven someday with that one-of-a-kind infectious laugh of yours. Thanks for changing MY world, @roddurham. Now go do you up there, buddy!!!! 👼🏼❤️
A photo posted by Heidi Powell (@realheidipowell) on
A photo on Durham’s Instagram page reveals that he had celebrated his 52nd birthday just a month before his passing. The photo’s caption says, "I'm 52 today (February 6th) ...Behold Bitches (sorry! I'm happy to still be alive!)"
Apart from his teaching job and weight loss achievement, Rod Durham was also an active member of the Tallahassee theater community. The Tallahassee Democrat feature also revealed that he performed acting and directing duties on local productions of Agnes of God, The Merchant of Venice, and The Piano Teacher.
Leon High School principal, Billy Epting spoke highly of Durham, saying that “he was someone they [students] could go talk to when they needed to.”
Besides his weight struggles, Rod Durham also faced hardships about admitting his sexuality to his family. He initially came out to his mother and sister, and only told his father that he was gay just before he started his weight loss program on the reality show.