Local legend 'Quad Man' has lived a life of adventure
Rodieck poses in front of Old Main in his classic attire. This is the start of the road where he so frequently roams and is most well-known.
Eddie Rodieck wears an olive-green scarf that rests on his tan shoulders in a faded brown tank top. He plants his Timberland boots firmly on the runners, a warm breeze moving through the oversized rips in his blue jeans. The rev of his engine turns heads as Rodieck cruises past crowded shops and restaurants on a Friday evening. He is a regular on University Boulevard, so much so that he has earned the nickname the “Quad Man.”
“The Quad Man is legendary,” said Lizzie Kappel, a University of Arizona student and fan who hoped to show him off to her family during Family Weekend. “He’s the personification of Tucson.”
Rodieck drives the outskirts of campus wearing variations of tank tops, interchangeable cowboy hats and ripped jeans, sometimes perched on his seat on one knee and other times standing up straight, swaying side to side with one grip on the handlebars like a Spartan riding into battle. He has become an icon on University Boulevard.
Rodieck was born in Iran in 1962 to an Iranian mother and an American father and lived in Beirut, Guadalajara and Afghanistan before attending boarding school in England by the age of 17. According to Rodieck, when he came to Tucson in 1979 to start boarding school at Fenster Ranch School, he was a well-traveled young man with a reputation for being troublesome and adventurous.
Rodieck pursued a degree in fine arts and photography at the UA but dropped out shortly after enrolling. He worked as a busboy and a waiter at first, then dug holes with a friend for a local landscaping company for $3 an hour.
When he was 24, a fellow landscaper picked up Rodieck hitchhiking on the side of the road. They had a truck and years of experience between the two of them, so they hatched an idea for a business.
Today, Rodieck said he runs a landscaping business in Tucson called Cherry Landscape, Inc., with over 40 employees in an office complex worth almost $1 million. The man who cruises the streets of Tucson on a quad in a cowboy get-up has been a successful businessman for the last 35 years.
“There’s a different persona between the business setting and the quad guy,” Rodieck said. “Occasionally, people want to meet me in the late afternoon, so I prepare them and I go, ‘Just know you will not be meeting business Eddie,’ and I dress like the quad guy.”
Rodieck said he sold a $20,000 landscape project dressed as the Quad Man to a NASA engineer who helped design the space lab. The engineer described him as “eclectic.”
Rodieck has been married twice and has three grown children but is now single and enjoying his time doing what he loves most: landscaping, going to karate (he’s earned a black belt), metal detecting and, of course, riding his quad around Tucson. The Quad Man is also renowned in Bisbee, where he relaxes at his quiet weekend home.
Eddie Rodieck’s daughter Roya Rodieck works alongside him in the landscaping business.
“He is my absolute best friend and confidante,” Roya Rodieck said.
When it comes to the Quad Man, Roya Rodieck is floored by the level of recognition he has gotten over the years. In a letter to Eddie Rodieck for his 46th birthday, she wrote, “No one has a state-wide celebrity for a father.”
Rodieck said she loves “the way people’s eyes bug out of their head when I tell them and they go, ‘That’s your dad?’ He’s so well-loved, especially in the University Boulevard area, so I’m proud and happy to see all these people warm up to him.”
Eddie Rodieck has become such an icon that even police officers recognize him. He recounted a time when he was sitting in his parked Toyota Tundra when an officer tapped on his window and asked, “Where’s your quad?”
Above all, Eddie Rodieck is a storyteller. At Espresso Art Café, his favorite post-work hookah bar on University Boulevard, Rodieck socializes with friends and strangers with a hookah pipe in hand.
“Eddie has been coming around Espresso Art and the UA since I was a kid,” said Will Mannheim, the general manager at Espresso Art. “His large personality always makes his presence in a room well-known.”
Eddie Rodieck’s stories are endless. He described riding an Arabian horse in the Persian desert east of the ruins of Persepolis where he discovered Mongolian ruins as a young boy. He also detailed movie-quality fistfights as a younger man. When he reminisces, he speaks quickly and enthusiastically, giving the most specific details as if these were yesterday’s hilarious and intriguing occurrences.
“From Beirut to London, from 1960 to last weekend, he always has a story to tell me,” Roya Rodieck said. “I’ve developed an almost encyclopedic knowledge of his life through all these fascinating little anecdotes.”
Throughout his whirlwind of adventures, Eddie Rodieck came to realize that life is too short to be anything but himself. To him, the Quad Man is his truest form of identity.
“Remember to take time to ride the wind,” Eddie Rodieck said. “It will keep you young.”