Rhonda Patzia (Henderson) was born Feb. 9, 1969, in Klamath Falls, Oregon, to Ron and Paula Henderson. Shortly after the birth of her brothers, Jeremy and Jason, the family moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, and then to Redstone where she did her schooling in Carbondale.
Rhonda excelled in academics and athletics and received many awards and honors in both areas. After high school she attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, where she majored in English. She found new interests in travel and photography and had the opportunity to take mission trips to Hong Kong, China, the Philippines and Honduras. During a semester-long trip to Europe she was able to help dismantle part of the Berlin Wall.
Rhonda graduated magna cum laude from Westmont in 1991 and soon afterwards she and a friend backpacked through Asia, Africa and Israel for eight months. The highlight for her was working at Mother Teresa’s home for the dying and destitute in Calcutta, India.
In 1994, she married Michael Patzia. They lived in Nashville, Tennessee, for 6 years where Rhonda printed for a well-known photographer and started her own photography business. In 1996, Rhonda was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which she battled bravely for the past 18 years. After Nashville they lived in Nicaragua for two years and then settled in Pella, Iowa. Rhonda then completed her MA from Goddard College in Vermont. Based on her work there she wrote a book that was recently published, Mindfully Unraveling: Body Awareness As I Slip Away. With this book she hoped to help others with multiple sclerosis and other diseases cope with their own body changes. She also had several of her photographs published over the years, most notably in The Sun magazine. Of all her accomplishments, her proudest achievement was becoming and being a mother to her and Michael’s son Marco in 2005.
Rhonda touched and inspired many people throughout her life with her amazing talents, passion, determination and grace.
A memorial service will be held at The Church at Redstone on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 2 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to Heritage Park Care Center, 1200 Village Road, Carbondale, CO 81623.