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Ode to Kim Rochester

posted Apr 17, 2020, 9:42 AM by Louis Rodriguez   [ updated Apr 17, 2020, 10:07 AM ]

Social distancing and being "locked up" at home has given many of us a lot more time to do things or reflect on things that you just never seem to have time to focus on. Today I decided to focus on something or "someone" to help shine a bit of light on an otherwise dark time.

In 1988 Kevin Costner made a movie called Field of dreams where he described  what it was like the first time that he heard "the voice". Well in 2006 I first heard the voice when I was working for an engineering company and was assigned to manage a transportation planning project. My company partnered with another engineering firm to perform the study and one of the first things I had to do was call the project manager at that firm, Kim Rochester.

When I called the office I was immediately put through to a voicemail system as Kim was not at her desk that day. Like most of us I was initially annoyed at having to leave a message but then I heard this voice over the phone. It was the most amazing voice message I ever heard. My mind thought wow, who is this person?

I remember when Kim called me back that I said to her "Did you have an amazing voice? You should be a singer." To which she laughed and  replied " I am a singer ".  

Kim and I worked on this project for a number of years yet somehow we never met face-to-face. However,  I always enjoyed speaking with her on the phone and listening to that voice.

Fast forward to 2012 and the after effects of the recession had both of us out on our own. The company I formed, Rodriguez Consulting, was awarded the contract to perform this particular transportation study and I instantly hired Kim as a consultant to work with me. This was the first time I finally got to meet her face-to-face. 

What I remember about our first encounter was not necessarily her voice, it was her eyes. She had these amazing, bright eyes that when combined with her smile generated a tremendous amount of energy and  light. The engineer in me says that our eyes are able to interpret, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. However, when I first met Kim all I saw was this light shining from her eyes. It is said that the eyes are the gateway to the soul. I knew when I met her that this was an amazingly special person.

Kim and I tried to find the number of ways to work together but the struggling economy always seemed to get in the way. It was at this time she took a position that would send her overseas to develop a lighting plan for the country of Qatar. I was disappointed that I couldn't hire her but was amazed at her courage to take on such a challenge.

When Kim returned from Qatar we continued to try to find ways to work together but something new started getting in the way...this thing called myeloma. I had never heard of myeloma before and Kim spoke about it nonchalantly, as if all she had was the flu.  Unfortunately, this annoying “flu” just never seemed to want to go away.

In January of 2018 Kim sent me a lengthy email to my personal account for the first time. It was at this time she informed me that it was unlikely she would work again. It was an extremely difficult email to read but, with the pressure of business out of the way, Kim and I would communicate and meet in person a number of times over the last year of her life.  Our conversations would now focus more on life, than the boring topic of engineering.

I last saw Kim in December of 2018, shortly before Christmas when she was in University of Pennsylvania hospital. I am not one that likes to go to a hospital mainly because of the emotional drain.  As I walked towards the door to Kim’s room I was nervous and asked God for help because I did not know what to say. I felt this overwhelming feeling come over me as if He said "Don't worry about what to say Lou.  I just need you to move your legs and  get inside the room. I'll take over from there."

When I entered the room I could tell that Kim was very tired as it was the end of a very long day of medical tests and procedures. The light that typically glimmered from her eyes was not as bright that evening.  However, being the amazing person she is, she stayed up for an hour and we had a beautiful conversation that focused on nothing more than family and faith...and the Philadelphia Eagles. 

As I walked out of the hospital that evening I remember thinking that there was a chance I would never see Kim again. I thank God for the opportunity to meet such a beautiful soul. All I can say is that, although I cannot see her right now, I can still hear "the voice". 

God bless you Kim. Thank you.


In this age of “Superheroes,” it can be easy to disregard the many heroes that we cross paths with on a daily basis, nurses, teachers, police officers, construction workers, and engineers. Civil engineers and land surveyors play a vital role in managing the infrastructure (e.g. buildings, roads, water systems, utilities) that our society needs in order to function.  We can easily take for granted the roles that engineers play in society every time we swim in the ocean or drink a glass of water. 

At Rodriguez, our engineers, surveyors, and construction inspectors play a vital role in managing the infrastructure that operates in the city of Philadelphia and the surrounding region.  We specialize in collecting data and applying specialized knowledge to make the best-informed decisions to manage infrastructure and creating sustainable communities.