In remembrance of Rockford “Rocky” Jalil (VIDEO)

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Many would describe USF College of Public Health’s web support specialist Rockford “Rocky” Jalil as kind, helpful and caring.

He was known for always replying to emails with, ‘you’re welcome,’ a love for Halloween and dressing up in unique costumes for the COPH’s Halloween party, and rocking out on his guitar.

Rocky joined the COPH family in 2010 and during his career at the COPH was supervised by Sandhya Srinivasan, Keila Ashman, Natalie Preston, and Samantha Haylock. 

“Rocky lived our motto every day,” said USF COPH Dean Donna Petersen. “Rocky was truly a member of our College of Public Health family. He didn’t just come to work; he came to be a part of something bigger.”

Rockford “Rocky” Jalil.

In May 2020, Rocky’s untimely passing left an impact on many of the COPH’s faculty and staff.  

“Rocky was a good, kind, creative, smart, funny, helpful, caring man and friend who would always flash that great smile no matter how he was feeling or the issues that may have been presented to him! He was always patient and took the time needed to assist in any way. He loved to dress up for our Halloween parties, always sported awesome costumes and made it a great day of fun! I am grateful to have many fond memories of Rocky to keep with me always. Unfortunately, it was too soon for him to part this world, but I pray that he is now at peace. My time at COPH has been greatly enriched with having Rocky there, I will miss him,” said Wendy Morales, administrative specialist.

“There are several things that made Rocky stand out to me. First and foremost, was his willingness to help in any way he could. He was just that type of person who would do whatever he could to help you complete a task or project at work. He would also take the time to explain what he was doing, using these encounters as teaching moments. Secondly, was his love for life. He always had a great smile even if he wasn’t feeling his best. He was always striving to be the best person he could be, not only for his co-workers, but his friends outside work and his family. And, lastly, his complete love for the Halloween holiday. He always went all in with his costumes. I think he was still a kid at heart! When October 31st comes around this year, it will be a sad day for me as I won’t have Rocky’s costume to look forward to seeing. I miss him dearly,” said Peggy Smith, executive administrative assistant.

“I knew Rocky since I started working at USF five and half years ago—our team partnered together with Rocky on several projects over the years,” said Heather Sampson, user interactive architect for USF Health. “He always knew how to present projects even to high profile clients in a way that only Rocky could; you could always count on him. Rocky was an integral part of helping to move the COPH website from an old 2002 platform to a new more robust platform as the COPH webmaster. Rocky was the first beta tester for the new platform and helped give valuable feedback on how to improve the interface. Rocky helped to keep the webpages up to date and up to web compliant standards. Rocky always went above and beyond to make the website experience better; he was a passionate and energetic person always with a smile on his face.”

“I was so appreciative of Rocky because I could always depend on him to very patiently and kindly explain the detailed, complicated and often confusing steps of web design. It was always such a great pleasure and privilege to work with Rocky, because he was our college’s cheerful, friendly and humble internet expert and such a wonderful friend and colleague. We will miss him,” said Ellen Kent, USF Health Service Corps and Sunshine ERC coordinator.

“When ‘Team Green Room’ originated it was just us. Me and Rocky. Over the years our team evolved and so did our relationship. We celebrated births and marriages. We comforted each other through illness and divorces. What I appreciate most about Rocky is how he was there for me when I needed him. When my brain was paralyzed with anxiety we’d talk from the COPH parking lot all the way to Riverview. This was our routine for weeks. He didn’t judge me or dismiss my situation. He just talked about Star Wars and shared corny jokes and other crap I wasn’t into, but he was there. God saw fit for me to pay it forward and be there for him during a time of crisis and for that I am most grateful. Rocky loved COPH and I can’t think of anyone in the college who didn’t think fondly of him. My heart goes out to his children and family,” said Natalie Preston, director of the Office of Engagement and Constituent Relations.

“Rocky was the first person I met at the USF College of Public and I will never forget how helpful and kind he was to me throughout the years. He was always willing to lend a helping hand and made me feel like a welcomed member of the team right from the beginning. From making website edits to helping coordinate the 35th Anniversary Talent Show (and also perform in it), Rocky was always happy to go the extra mile for his team. This is a devastating loss for the USF College of Public Health and Rocky will always hold a special place in our hearts and memories,” said Anna Mayor, engagement officer.

“Rocky was a passionate employee who loved COPH. He was a people-pleaser who cared so much about making people happy. COPH will miss him,” said Samantha Haylock, associate director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives.

“I got to know Rocky very well these past few years as he was our go-to-person for updating, improving, and sharing all the Activist Lab’s information on our website. Rocky was always so kind and helpful to us. When he was busy he would always write to me and explain any delays. And when I said thanks to a message, he was one of the few individuals who would write back and say ‘You are very welcome.’ I and the Activist Lab will always remember Rocky as having a gentle soul and a huge heart. God bless him and may he rest in peace. The world is a sadder place because of this loss,” said Dr. Karen Liller, professor and director of the Activist Lab.

Rocky is survived by his father, Kabir; brother, Kaleb (Crystal); his children, Dakota Phoenix, Rockford Jr. and stepdaughter, Aiyana Martz.

A recording of his memorial services may be viewed here.


Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health