TV personality Rod Durham of 'Extreme Weight Loss' dead at 52

By Marilyn Malara  |  March 15, 2016 at 2:12 PM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 15 (UPI) -- Rod Durham, a former contestant on Extreme Weight Loss, was found dead over the weekend. He was 52 years old.

The television personality and Florida-based high school teacher's body was discovered by motel employees in Fort Lauderdale. Durham, an employee of Leon High School in Tallahassee, Fla., reportedly died of diabetic shock while visiting Ft. Lauderdale during his school's spring break.

The teacher's friends and family, including Extreme Weight Loss trainers Chris Powell and Heidi Powell, have started posting messages of love and sadness over Durham's sudden death.

"Your positive energy and contagious laugh brightened this world and everyone lucky enough to meet you. You had an ability to make everyone feel special and loved," Chris Powell wrote in an Instagram dedication post. "You changed your own life and in the process, you motivated and inspired millions of others. You have forever made a positive difference in this world."

"While I am selfishly so sad and completely devastated that I won't get to see him on earth anymore, I am rejoicing for the spirit he is carrying with him and spreading to everyone up there...including my dad," Heidi Powell wrote in another post. "Rod, you will be missed terribly. Everything from your kindness, to your warm smile and bear hugs, to your friendship, to your extraordinary ability to make ANYONE (including me) feel special."

Heaven just got a lot brighter today when Rod entered the pearly gates. While I am selfishly so sad and completely devastated that I won't get to see him on earth anymore, I am rejoicing for the spirit he is carrying with him and spreading to everyone up there...including my dad. Rod, you will be missed terribly. Everything from your kindness, to your warm smile and bear hugs, to your friendship, to you extraordinary ability to make ANYONE (including me) feel special. YOU are special. And will never be forgotten. Love you BIG, and can't wait to be welcomed into heaven someday with that one-of-a-kind infectious laugh of yours. Thanks for changing MY world, @roddurham. Now go do you up there, buddy!!!! 👼🏼❤️

A photo posted by Heidi Powell (@realheidipowell) on

Leon High School principal Billy Epting released a statement Monday morning in remembrance of Durham saying the beloved teacher and local theater group director was a true source of support for students, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. "He was someone they could go talk to when they needed to," he said. "He gave them tough love when they needed it and a big bear hug when they needed it, too."

"If you saw Rod, your day got better. His laugh was simply infectious. ... Everyone loved Rod Durham," Leon County Schools administrator Rocky Hanna added. "There are tens of thousands of kids today who are broken-hearted."

Durham appeared on ABC's Extreme Weight Loss in 2014, soon becoming a national inspiration when he lost more than 180 pounds during the course of the show. "I don't want to sound like a Debbie Downer," he told the Democrat, "but it was hard."

Last month, Durham posted a selfie to social media in celebration of his 52nd birthday celebrating his life. "I'm 52 today (February 6th)," he wrote. "Behold [expletive] (sorry! I'm happy to still be alive!)"

I'm 52 today (February 6th) ...Behold Bitches (sorry! I'm happy to still be alive!)

A photo posted by Rod Durham (@roddurham) on

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