1888 - 1981
Place of birth: Philippines
Date of Willard admission: 1919
Length of stay: 62 years
Sr. Rodrigo #15902 came from a prominent upper-class Filipino family. In 1907, he arrived in America to attend school in Salt Lake City. The United States had occupied his country since the Spanish American War, and Rodrigo took an active interest in the Filipino independence movement, corresponding with other activists and writing letters to various newspapers. He moved to Chicago, and later to Buffalo, where, for reasons unknown, this educated man worked as a domestic for one of the city's leading doctors. During this time, Rodrigo considered becoming a Methodist minister. However, he grew depressed and often complained that spirits were plaguing him; he heard voices that accused him of being a sinner. His employer had him committed to Buffalo State Hospital in 1917 at the age of 29.
An Institutionalized Life
In October 1919, Sr. Rodrigo was transferred to Willard State Hospital. Records from 1935 described him in this way: "He readily converses with anyone, sociable, very well-behaved, polite, mannerly, cooperative, neat and clean, never causes trouble, very willing to help with yard work, takes an interest in life, plays checkers, reads books, writes simple poetry." The staff at Willard remained impressed with Rodrigo's knowledge of classical music and poetry, even with his "heavy accent."
In the late 1960s, Rodrigo was offered the chance to live in a group home, but he declined. The following observation was placed in his file: "Years of institutionalization appear to have been a mistake, as far as duration, as this man appears in perfect mental condition now." As he grew older, he lost his sight, and was moved to a ward for blind patients. Sr. Rodrigo #15902 died in 1981 at Willard and was buried in an unmarked grave in nearby Ovid Union Cemetery.