Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33, was known as “Rody” by friends and made a lasting impression on his coworkers at the OneBlood donation center.
Ayala served as the platelet supervisor at OneBlood, the center that collected blood donations for many Pulse shooting survivors. He was hired at OneBlood in December 2011 as a biologics assistant and was promoted to team leader in 2015, processing donations until his death on June 12, 2016.
Ayala’s coworkers said he was like a family member. Many told News 6 that he was outgoing, charismatic and a hard worker.
"He was the sweetest, most genuine person. (He) cared for everyone and would do anything for you, and he'll be sorely missed here,” Kelly Gollert, the director of manufacturing for OneBlood, told News 6.
"I want you all to know that Rody ... he was such a beautiful, humble, great person. He was such a hard worker, always motivating us," Gollert said.
Gollert said his OneBlood family vowed to keep his spirit alive, and glimpses of him live on at the blood bank.
In a statement, OneBlood said Ayala was a “highly respected member” of its family.
"He was passionate about saving lives and took great pride in the lifesaving work he performed. Rodolfo was often called upon to share his knowledge and best practices with many of the people in his department and was an intricate part of a team of people who work diligently to help save lives. He was a caring and friendly person and will be greatly missed by everyone who had the honor of knowing him."
The Puerto Rican native lived in Kissimmee with Ty Mitchell, his roommate and close friend, who reflected on Ayala’s warmth and generosity.
"I would tell him all the time that I was so filled with gratitude for the things he's done for me,” Mitchell said. “I just want to thank him one more time ... and I don't know ... just, I love him and I appreciate him and I'll miss him a lot.”