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A spirit that is not afraid

They were 'all that and more': Auburn fans share their favorite memories of Rod, Paula Bramblett

Rod Bramblett broadcasted Auburn games since 1993, and he graduated from Auburn in 1988.
Rod Bramblett broadcasted Auburn games since 1993, and he graduated from Auburn in 1988.

The letters below are a snapshot of how Rod and Paula Bramblett impacted the people around them. 

Paula made people laugh and made others feel confident; Rod spoke into the mic with a fire that could make games come alive, giving Auburn fans a friendly, familiar voice to tune in to. 

Those memories live on through these letters, and their memories live on through the Auburn Family. 

We want to sincerely thank everyone who contributed.

Here are readers' fond stories of Rod and Paula Bramblett.

Wendy Patterson: 

My favorite memory is tuning in to Rod on the Auburn sports network and muting the TV. He always had such an excitement in his voice that was contagious. No one could be compared to his commentary. Whether it was at Jordan-Hare or out in the community, he greeted you like an old family friend. 

Ellen and Gus Wood:

We loved listening to Rod as he covered Auburn football games. We love him so much that when we watched them from home and the network had some other announcer, we would turn the volume down on the tv and use the sound from the radio just so we could hear Rod’s voice, enthusiasm, accurate and to-the-point calls — never mind the .10 second delay! 

We’re heartbroken by the loss and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

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Amy Wadsworth Register:

In 2012, my family had the opportunity to move to Auburn where we could raise our boys with something I never had — a hometown. The crazy thing about living in Auburn is you see folks at church and Publix that the night before you heard on ESPN, or who were part of some epic documentary about the players you grew up with.

Last night the "Voice of the Auburn Tigers," Rod Bramblett, and his wife were killed in a car accident. They leave behind a college student and a high school student. To people around the country, this is the guy that called the Kick 6 and some may have called him a homer. He won awards that big names picked. To those of us in Auburn, he was all of that and more. He was the guy you saw at Mikata or Chappy's and you really were star struck until you saw him interact with others and you saw how genuinely unaffected he was by being the voice you heard. 

He was the guy that you wanted to ask for a photo with your kids, but you could tell how much he was enjoying his family that you didn't want to interrupt. This was the man who did a field trip for kindergarten kids and enjoyed the kids as much as the moms enjoyed hearing him play his famous plays. 

The Auburn family has had a really rough year, but this is a punch in the gut you can't comprehend. So please indulge me in mourning a great man and the love of his life today. Please remember his children in your prayers.

“The view from up here is sheer perfection.” Rod Bramblett

Raye Hendrix:

I worked for The Plainsman from 2011 to 2015, and most of that time was spent as either a photographer or photo editor. That meant I spent a lot of time on the sidelines and in the press box of Auburn sporting events. I had the pleasure of meeting Rod in Jordan-Hare's press box a handful of times, and he was one of the kindest, gentlest, funniest people up there. He was never dismissive of the fact that I was a student; he treated me like a legitimate journalist and regarded me as professionally and warmly as he did the most established journalists up in the box. That meant so much to me as a 20-something kid who felt lost walking around next to sportscasting royalty. He made the press box a welcoming place. 

Even before that, I grew up listening to Rod on the radio. My dad, Ben Hendrix, is also an Auburn graduate, and some of my earliest memories involve being in the cab of his truck, driving around on some errand or another up in Blount County, Alabama, listening to Rod call a game. Back in 2013, tragedy struck my family twice in the span of a month with the loss of two grandmothers. After weeks of feeling like the world was upside-down, on the long drive back to Auburn from the second funeral on a Saturday in September, listening to Rod call the Arkansas State football game in the car with my dad was a source of normalcy and comfort. Rod's voice has been significant in the soundtrack of my life for so many years, and I'm so heartbroken over his loss for his family and for the Auburn Family. Auburn sports radio will never be the same. 

Thank you for putting together this memorial. I'm sure it's going to mean so much to so many people, but especially his kids.

Robin Henderson:

I don’t watch any Auburn game on TV without muting the TV and listening to Rod call the games. Rod’s pure love of Auburn was legendary. He made me feel every down, every basket and every home run. 

I went to Auburn in the early 80s with Jim Fyffe as the announcer. When Jim died, I did not know how we were going to replace him. 

Then came Rod. “Holy cow, oh my God, Auburn wins, Auburn has won the Iron Bowl!” or “Go crazy Cadillac, go crazy!” Gives me chills every time.

There’s a huge hole in my heart tonight. I just don’t want to believe it.

Rod and Paula, you will be missed. War Eagle.

Mark Erdberg:

In 2003, I was not yet a college baseball fan.  However, I had just graduated from law school and had a few days to kill before I started studying for the Bar Exam, so I went to the SEC Tournament.  Four games and about 13 hours later, I was hooked. I found this camping radio in my closet and started carrying it around during baseball season. It was big, it was bulky, and it was ridiculous.  I’ve never run from being quirky, though, and I loved being the guy who carried around a radio listening to Auburn baseball.  Technology improved and the radio was replaced by a cell phone, but over 16 years, Rod remained the constant.

Sixteen years after my first trip to Hoover, I was back this year with my father for the Auburn-Tennessee game.  I commented to him that, when you listen to Rod as much as I have, you hear his voice and what you think he might say even when you’re not listening to his call.  Rod’s always in your ear, even when he is not.  That was Rod’s last win.

I took in Rod’s last game as I often did, listening to his call while streaming the game on the internet.  I preferred this method since the Internet is always about a minute behind, which means that you get to hear Rod’s call before you see it yourself.  He was so good that he was better than pictures.  It’s a rare and elite announcer who makes you prefer his voice to seeing the game on TV, but Rod was that elite.

Those who do not understand the power of sports might think it strange for a person to feel such pain over the death of someone he has never met. Sports is an industry in which we invest considerable time and money.  Unlike most investments, our reward is not tangible, but instead an emotional connection to something much bigger than ourselves.  Players and coaches have come and gone, but Rod remained the constant. Rod was not just the storyteller. He was Auburn baseball, and having an emotional connection to Auburn baseball means having an emotional connection to Rod.

Thank you, Rod. You meant so much to us.

Scott Norman:

Rod helped me get my first job in radio at station WZZZ in West Point. We both worked the weekend shifts from 1985 to 1987. Rod was also my college roommate, along with Jeff Scott, from August 1985 to July 1986. He was absolutely the nicest person I have ever met. Auburn University should be proud to have someone so honest and with so much integrity represent them. He was perfect for his job.

I will miss him deeply.

War Eagle always, Rod.

Shanna Roberts:

Paula was a bridesmaid at my wedding in June 1991. My best memory of Paula was making me laugh so hard, I had to sit on the floor in my wedding dress. In trying to help me up, she landed on the floor. I will never forget those five minutes. 

Sharing our dreams for the future, building confidence to begin our careers and knowing our bonds of friendship would never end.  With so much love from the Auburn family, I have no choice but to believe it will be enough.

Visit this GoFundMe page to donate to the fund set up for the children of Rod and Paula Bramblett, Shelby and Joshua.

Eduardo Medina | Editor-in-chief

Eduardo Medina, senior in journalism, is the editor-in-chief of The Auburn Plainsman.

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