Vance Rodriguez, Vance John Rodriguez, family, mother, father, Lafayette, Louisiana, Mostly Harmless, hiker, unknown, Mary Cummins, Gaudet, Joseph, Lawrence, Ethel, Laura, DNA, ancestry, heritage, suicide attempt, computer, IT, New York, Florida, anonymous
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Last year I got sucked into the story of the unknown hiker who died in his tent on the trail in Florida in 2018. Earlier today I heard that they now know his name. The hiker formerly known as "Mostly Harmless" is actually Vance John Rodriguez born in 1976 in Lafayette, Louisiana. While I read both stories I still wanted to know more about this mysterious person so I did some research.
Vance John Rodriguez was born February 25, 1976 in Lafayette, Louisiana. He has a twin sister named Vicki Ann Rodriguez and an older brother Larry Joseph Rodriguez. Both of his siblings are married. His parents are Lawrence Joseph Rodriguez and Ethel Rose Gaudet both born and living in Louisiana. I went back five generations and the entire family is from Louisiana. The farther back you go the more French the names become. For instance "Hoover" became "Oubre." The English sounding names were Anglicized from French. I went back to the 1700's.
Below is the obituary of his paternal grandfather Albert Rodriguez who died recently. His paternal grandmother is still alive.
"Albert Rodriguez. A native of St. Martinville and longtime resident of Cade, Albert was born on January 13, 1926 to Joseph Adam Rodriguez and Stella Bonin Rodriguez. Albert honorably served his country in the United States Navy. He married the love of his life, Laura Mae Louviere, on May 14, 1947, a union that lasted 73 years. He worked as Assistant Chief Engineer at Iberia Sugar Cooperative for 45 years. Following his retirement in 1992, he enjoyed gardening, fixing things around the house, monitoring his rain gauge, and tending to his perfectly manicured lawn. His greatest joy was spending time with his wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. A firm believer in hard work and providing a good life for his family, he was proud to instill these virtues in his children and grandchildren. In his words, “I might have told you this already, but I’m going to tell you again…”
He is survived by his wife, Laura Louviere Rodriguez; three sons, Mike (Vicky C.) Rodriguez, Lawrence (Ethel G.) Rodriguez and Sherman J (Susan B.) Rodriguez; daughter, Linda Rodriguez (Douglas) Landry; grandchildren, Larry J Rodriguez, Vance J Rodriguez, Steven J Rodriguez, Vicki R Derouen, Tiffany R Gauthier, Renee' Landry Ortego and Breigh V. Rodriguez; great grandchildren, Alaina Rodriguez, Katherine "Katie" Derouen, Laura Derouen, Olivia Gauthier, Sarah Gauthier, Evan Rodriguez and Tevin L. Ortego; one great grandson on the way, Breck Ry Ortego; brother, Allen Rodriguez; two sisters-in-law, Mary Lou Louviere Broussard and Judy Louviere Berard.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Adam and Stella Bonin Rodriguez; sister, Edith Rodriguez Boutte; brother, Alton Rodriguez; and a great grandson, Ryzer J Ortego."
Below is the obituary of his maternal grandfather Joseph Gaudet. His maternal grandmother is dead but her obituary is identical to this one with a few changes that you can see in the above tree.
"Joseph Gaudet Sr. Funeral services were held Morday, March 3, at St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church for Joseph Gaudet Sr., 92, who died Saturday, March 1, 1997 in a Lafayette hospital. Burial followed in St. Michael Cemetery. Mr. Gaudet was a member of St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church. He is survived by his wife, Leila Berthelot Gaudet; five sons, Clifton Gaudet and Dennis Gaudet, both of St. Martinville, Louis Gaudet of Moss Bluff, Raymond Gaudet of Loreauville and Joseph Gaudet Jr. of Broussard; six daughters, Hilda Gaudet. Mrs. Billy (Lillian) Fontenot and Mrs. Lawrence (Ethel) Rodriguez, all of Lafayette, Mrs. Robert (Jenny) Bateman of Houma; Shirley Hernandez of San Antonio, Texas, and Mrs. Allen (Joyce) Gondron of Loreauville; a sister, Amelie Trosclair of Loreauville; 26 grandchildren and 22 greatgrandchildren. He was preceded in death by a brother and eight sisters. Evangeline Funeral Home of St. Martinville was in charge of arrangements."
Researching newspapers.com shows that he received awards for excellence in school and received a partial scholarship to go to college. The previous two articles linked above go into more detail of his early life and life on the trail. Based on everything I've read his family seems like a typical normal caring family that worked, went to church and were very involved in the community. Vance clearly had some personal issues and demons. Too bad he could never recover enough to rejoin society in a healthy successful manner.
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