Listen to this article

GIBSON CITY — When Rick Flessner gives up his position as Ford County coroner in 11 months, he feels confident that his anticipated replacement, Brandon Roderick, will provide a seamless transition.

Roderick, after all, has been Flessner’s understudy since January 2018, after Flessner was appointed to the coroner’s position by the Ford County Board.

“I think he will do a terrific job,” Flessner said.

Roderick, 37, of rural Gibson City, is running unopposed as a Republican candidate for coroner in the March 17 primary election. If elected as expected in November, he would take over the job on Dec. 1, the day after Flessner gives it up.

Flessner, who was last elected coroner in November 2018, decided not to seek re-election this time around because he felt it was time to give up the role to a younger person. Flessner, of Roberts, will be 65 in October and said he wants a little more time to enjoy his retirement.

“I feel good and I feel like I could still do the job, but I think the county deserves someone younger,” Flessner said. “I think Brandon will serve the county well.”

Roderick, who has been serving as a deputy coroner under Flessner, said the two spoke about the possibility of Roderick filling the coroner position prior to Roderick filing paperwork to become a candidate.

“He always knew I had a passion to be coroner someday, and we’ve had a couple of meetings (to discuss the possibility),” Roderick said. “He said, ‘If you’d like to do it, please do; I won’t run.’”

Flessner said he has agreed to serve as a deputy coroner when Roderick becomes coroner. That way, Flessner will be available to assist Roderick with the ins and outs of the position, if needed.

Roderick said he feels he is qualified for the coroner’s position not just because of his experience as deputy coroner but also because of his seven years of experience working as a funeral director and embalmer at the Lamb-Young Funeral Home in Gibson City. Roderick worked at the funeral home from 2008 to 2015, before he began selling insurance part time for Greg Kurtenbach’s State Farm insurance agency in Gibson City and selling corn and soybean seeds full time for Burris Seeds in Arenzville.

Prior to working at the funeral home, Roderick graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling.

“With a mortuary background, I think that gives me good qualifications for (the coroner’s job),” Roderick said. “And I’m just passionate about people — that’s why I went into the funeral service. I love helping people, and I know how to take care of people in their time of need. I really enjoy that aspect of taking care of the people.”

Roderick already has some experience as a deputy coroner notifying the next of kin of their loved one’s death. Flessner said Roderick did so after an elderly man from Texas was killed on Oct. 23 when his car left the road and struck a guardrail on Interstate 57 south of Paxton. It was Roderick’s first time performing that duty as a deputy coroner, but he felt comfortable.

“All the years I’ve had helping families with making funeral arrangements, doing removals at the time of death, I think that did make me comfortable (notifying the family as deputy coroner),” Roderick said. “I didn’t have a problem doing it; I wasn’t nervous about it.”

Roderick said being compassionate is a necessary trait for a coroner.

“If I had a death in my family, I would want somebody to treat me like I treat the people I serve,” Roderick said.

Roderick said his plan is to keep both of his jobs at State Farm and Burris Seeds when he becomes coroner.

Roderick grew up in Melvin and moved to Gibson City while he was in high school. He graduated from Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School in 2000.

In 2005, Roderick married his high school sweetheart, Angela. They were best friends throughout high school and began dating as both were seniors at GCMS.

They have two children — an 11-year-old daughter, Londyn, a fifth-grader at GCMS Elementary School; and an 8-year-old son, Ryne, a third-grader at GCMS Elementary School.