Rodney Eugene Penn was born October 5, 1953 in Humboldt, Tennessee to the Union of Mozella Penn Gaines and the late Sherman Gaines Sr. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents Mobella Barnett Penn and L.C. Penn; paternal grandparents John A. and Pennie McBride Gaines; aunt Maggie Penn Lesure; uncles Tommie L. and Vernon G. Penn; brother Charles Terry Penn and best friend Rickey “Head” Adams.
He grew up in the East St. Louis Samuel Gompers Neighborhood. He was educated in East St. Louis School District 189. Graduating from Lincoln High School in 1973. He received a Football Scholarship to Missouri Valley College and went on to play at Bishop College in Dallas, Texas.
In 1979, Rodney planted roots in Dallas, where he met and married Glenda Kay Hood and they raised six children. He later remarried and raised two step sons.
Rodney was a master chef. He orchestrated palate pleasing menus in night clubs, hospitals, and restaurants (including his own Taste of Soul Restaurant) until he retired in 2020.
Rodney loved to cook for others, sing and dance to music, watch TV, read, fish, debate politics, and most importantly, he cherished the time spent with family and friends.
Rodney leaves to cherish his memories, his mother, Mozella Gaines; his children Melody Hood, Deidre (Kenneth) Hannible, Kiyana Hood, Casey Hood, Stacey Hood, and Crystal Smith all of Dallas, TX; stepsons Terrance and Travis White; his siblings Ruthie Lee Gaines Johnson (Toledo, Ohio); Sam Walker (Seattle, Washington); Sherron “Skinny” (William) Willis (Collinsville, IL); Vivian “Tuffy” (Jervis) White (Belleville, IL); Sherman (Joyce) Gaines Jr. (Coppell, Texas); Jerome A. (Jessica) Gaines Seagoville, Texas; Roland Gaines (Maryville, IL); Gregory Washington (Nashville, TN); Steven (Nanette) Gaines (St. Louis, MO); James (Camille) Townsend (Shiloh, IL).
Rodney’s love for his twelve grandchildren knew no bounds. He leaves his legacy of determination, love and hardwork to his grand-daughters, Leah Lynch, ZaKora Hall, Kennedy Hannible, Asia Garrett, Reagan Hannible, Cadence Gabriel; and grandsons, Perry Hall, Jordan Vincent, Dante Hood, Camden Penn, Ka’Darin Francis, and Tyler Lewis.
Rodney had friends he loved as brothers: Syrone Adams, Mack McGuire, Howard “Bird” David Shelton Jr., Chester Townsend, Victor Harris, Gregory “Bulldog” Lewis, and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends that he loved and adored.