July 10, 1950, saw the arrival of a charismatic soul named Rodney James Cavner, whose legacy would be defined by his infectious laughter and extraordinary stories. Shortly after his birth in Clarinda, Iowa, Rod’s family moved to southern California. It was along these sun-soaked waves where his life’s journey truly began. Early on, Rod discovered his lifelong passion for surfing with the guidance of his older brother, Fred. During his youth, Rod gained a wide variety of experiences which would shape him into the unique man he was. He earned a scholarship as a quarterback for UCSB, and in the summertime between his college years, he honed his remarkable charm and social skills while working in exclusive clubs at famous racetracks throughout southern California. A good friend of Rod’s launched his career as a hairstylist, and Rod took notice of his clientele and decided to offer haircuts out of a garage “just for the fun of it”. He then received certification from the Vidal Sassoon Academy. Soon after, he found himself visiting Kansas City where he settled in and established the iconic Blondie’s hair salon in 1976, later to evolve into ROCA Salon. Rod knew all about how to transform a hairstyle, but his real transformative power was in his ability to turn a stranger into a friend in only a few minutes. Rod's contagious laughter had the power to break down barriers and bring people together. He could walk into any coffee shop and walk out laughing with someone he had just met, yet they seemed as if they had known each other for years. Whether recounting surfing escapades, delivering his famous “inside scoop” on politicians and celebrities, or bringing excitement into the ordinary with his animated mannerisms, Rod had a captivating gift for storytelling. There was nothing quite like the enthusiasm Rod would exude from the thrill of a rare flea market find, the antics of cute little animals, and the endless sense of joy he felt in the presence of friends and family. Rod had a compassionate heart for animals, both wild and domesticated. It brought him great joy to watch deer stroll through the yard and to fill numerous bird feeders while learning the calls of different bird species. Even the rare occasion of a mouse and most insects found his home to be a trap-and-release zone. The family cats and dogs were all great recipients of his love and generous table scraps. Pups Daisy and Penelope have stayed behind with Rhonda, but others, since his childhood, are now gathered around him, showering him with their affections. Over 35 years ago, Rod married his best friend and soulmate, Rhonda, and together they embarked on an extraordinary adventure filled with love. Whether traversing through Europe with their children, cruising fantastic voyages, or strolling through Costco hand in hand, they were happily inseparable. Rod complimented Rhonda nearly every day and expressed to her how much he loved her and how he was lucky to have her, but Rhonda always said it was she who was the lucky one. Seeing them together could inspire even the worst cynic to believe in the depths of true love that can exist between two people. Rod was not only an amazing husband but also the epitome of a strong and loving father. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” he would often remind his children, instilling in them the values of a well-balanced and well-enjoyed life. His children carry on Rod’s entrepreneurial and free thinking outlook. The angels came and called Rod away from this world on November 15th, 2023. He is survived by his wife, Rhonda Cavner; their daughter and son, Lacey Cavner and Kipp Cavner; his eldest son, Cru Cavner, and granddaughter, Alexandria Cavner; and Rod’s older brother, Fred Cavner. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Audrey Cavner. Rod’s spirit will be dearly missed by all who knew him, but his unforgettable stories and infectious laugh will always echo in their hearts.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2:00-4:00 at ROCA Salon, 1300 W 39th St., KC, MO 64111.