Rod Durham, a high school teacher who appeared on ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss, has died. He was 52. Local paper the Tallahassee Democrat reported Durham was found during the weekend at a motel in Fort Lauderdale, where he was visiting during spring break. Friends told the paper he died of diabetic shock.
Durham lost more than 180 pounds during Season 4 of the ABC reality series. “I was the third oldest and second heaviest,” Durham told the Democrat in 2014. “I wasn’t always the first one who finished, but I always finished it.” Chris Powell, his trainer on the show, posted his memories of Durham today on Twitter and Facebook:
The Democrat said Durham was a beloved teacher at Leon High and also was well known in the Tallahassee theater community as an actor and director, working on productions of such shows as Agnes of God, The Merchant of Venice and The Piano Teacher.
Here is Extreme Weight Loss bio on Durham from when he was a contestant:
49-year-old Rod is a fun-loving drama coach who always wears a big smile on the outside to hide the self-doubt and unhappiness he keeps buried deep down. He longs to audition for roles on Broadway, but his 448-pound frame has made achieving that dream impossible.
Though Rod serves as a caretaker for his elderly parents, he’s never told his father that he’s gay. Realizing that his excess weight and his hidden sexuality have kept him from fully expressing who he really is, Rod wrote a letter to Chris Powell asking for help.
For years, Rod struggled to tell his family about his sexuality. Though he recently came out to his sister and mother, Rod’s father still doesn’t know that his son is gay. Reluctant to start changing his life without telling his loved ones who he really is, Rod comes out to his father before starting his weight loss journey.
Chris helps Rod chase a lifelong dream of becoming a Broadway performer. In New York City for his 50th birthday, Rod gets the chance to audition for the smash-hit Broadway musical Chicago. While in the city, Chris issues Rod his biggest challenge yet: climbing the stairs to the top of the Empire State Building!
Rod’s transformation hits a roadblock when his food addiction threatens to get the best of him. This is all part of an emotional 365-day journey that includes an appearance from Carla Hall of The Chew, who teaches Rod how to make healthier versions of the Southern food he loves.