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Former Homestead Mayor Fred Rhodes Passes Away

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Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 2:00 am

  James Fred Rhodes Jr., Mayor of Homestead from 1973 to 1975, died October 10, 2017 at age 91.  Shortly after Hurricane Irma, Rhodes suffered a fall and died at the Trust Bridge Hospice in Palm Beach County at 4:45 AM on Tuesday. 

   Born in February 25, 1926 to Fred and Mary (Posey) Rhodes, he grew up in Homestead.  His first job at age 12 was as a stock boy at Dixie Drug where he saved his money and bought his first car at age 13. 

   Rhodes was a veteran of World War II being drafted after high school graduation.  He served in the Italian campaign as a forward artillery observer.  His superiors recognized his leadership ability and asked him to join the Army permanently.  But his father had been burned in a welding accident, so Rhodes returned to Homestead to help his family.

   After the war, Fred told the story of going to a movie at the Seminole Theatre with friends.  He noticed a girl with long red hair sitting toward the front.  He found out her name was Joy Lee and called to ask for a date without being introduced.  She declined, several times, but he talked her into it.  Waiting to take her on a first date, he was worried about what she looked like.  When she appeared, it was love at first sight. Joy and Fred were married 62 years until her death in 2010.

   Rhodes began a tile business after the war and later founded the Homestead Truss Plant in the early 1970s.  He was a good businessman with a strong work ethic which made him successful.  His passion was hunting and he owned several camps in the Everglades, as well as airboats, airplanes and a helicopter though he never had a pilot’s license.  

   Rhodes was interested in town issues, first running for City Council in the early 1960s.  After serving as Mayor for two years, he later ran and won election as Vice Mayor in 1977.  It was during his tenure that City Hall was moved from the 1917 Krome Avenue building to a new building on U.S. 1. 

   Rhodes is survived by a daughter Charisse and her husband Rev. Gary Cason, son Robin and wife Lyn Rhodes of Texas, and grandchildren Rachel, Jared, Cresha, Celeste, and Kinsey, with one great-grandchild expected soon.

   The universal statement on hearing of his death is Fred Rhodes loved Homestead.    His many acts of kindness included providing burial services for local indigents, paying to fly a softball team he managed to Cuba in 1956 for competition to distributing roofing material he bought just days after Hurricane Andrew.  

   Graveside services will be held at 10:30 AM Friday October 13 at the main mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery.  A later memorial service will be held at the convenience of the family.


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