Timeline and Stories from the Life of
Gayle E. Rhoads

1931. Thursday, February 19: the beginning of a life. Gayle Elwood Rhoads is the second child born to father James Harrison Rhoads and mother Mary Agnes Rose Keenan Rhoads. The name "Gayle" means "her father's joy," which is a source of confusion or amusement to others throughout his life. Gayle is delivered at the Iowa Sanitarium (photo 1, 2) in Nevada, Iowa, where Mary had taken her nurses' training. James H. Rhoads is a traveling minister who moves frequently. In the first few years, young Gayle will live briefly in Osceola, IA; Chariton, IA; Marshalltown IA; Lisbon, ND; Lidgerwood, ND; Valley City, ND; Fargo, ND; Jamestown, ND; Enderlin ND; and Watertown SD by 1938. (fn)

1933. This year, Mary records a sample of Gayle's vocabulary: "Wawa up me, Mamma, my peet are ticking out." (Cover up me, Mamma, my feet are sticking out.) Also this year, Brother Berton, aged five, leaves an impression on young Gayle. He heaves an iron coin bank in the shape of a horse in Gayle's direction, which Gayle intercepts with his forehead. Mary hears the crying and investigates. "Bertie, did you hit Gayle with the horse?" "No." "Bertie, why does Gayle have a hoof print on his face?" Berton eventually confesses in light of the evidence. This story doesn't accurately portray Berton's character, who was an unusually well-behaved child. Therefore it was a widely held belief in the community that James and Mary had extraordinary talents as parents. Berton's behavior was so exemplary that James was asked by friends, neighbors, and church members to hold a lecture series on child rearing, which he eventually did. But when Gayle came along, the lectures stopped of necessity. James could no longer point to a family of model children. Gayle was a squirmy handful who would do things like deliberately pilot his wagon into trees at high speeds, just to see what would happen in the resulting crash. With the birth of Don, the family once again saw a trend toward well-behaved children, but Gayle had permanently ended a promising lecture series for his father. Here are Gayle and Berton, probably late in 1933. Decide for yourself who looks sober and who looks mischievous. (fn)

1936. In February, Gayle asks for, and receives, a blue hyacinth flower as a gift on his fifth birthday. (How times--and children's gift requests--have changed.) Gayle's family lives in Fargo, ND at the time. Shortly after his birthday, the family takes a day trip. When they return, Gayle's new birthday present is frozen solid. This year, Franklin Delano Roosevelt addresses an audience in Jamestown, North Dakota. In a twist of fate, the audience contains both young Gayle and his future bride, four-year-old Bette Jewell Lenz. However, the Rhoads and Lenz families would not meet for another 17 years. (fn)

1937. Young Gayle gets his first pet dog. On September 17, Gayle's younger brother Donald Harrison Rhoads is born in Fargo, ND. The family currently lives in Enderlin ND but soon moves to Watertown SD. This may also be the year that Gayle and Berton, under the care of a baby-sitter, are playing on a swing. Gayle wants to swing higher, so the sitter gives him a big push and Gayle falls out of the swing, onto his face, breaking his nose. This story is often referenced in his sermon notes as "The Girl Who Broke My Nose." The moral of the story as Gayle told it is lost to time, but we can guess the moral may have been that baby-sitters are asking for trouble when they take directions from the baby-sat, particularly when those babies grow up to become ministers who tell stories of their childhoods. (fn)

1938? An earache turns into a serious mastoid infection for seven-year-old Gayle. His physician, A. Einar Johnson, tell father James that a risky surgery is necessary. James tells Gayle what the doctor has told him: that if he decides to have the surgery, he may die. Gayle tells his father that it's an easy choice. The pain is so intense, he'd much prefer the surgery and risk death. The base of Gayle's skull near his left ear is chiseled away to perform the surgery, which is successful. Because of the surgery, his left ear will forever stick out further than his right. After recovering, Gayle makes a leather belt for Dr. Johnson as a thank you gift. James writes a letter to the physician years later, and receives this fine letter (pages 1 & 2) in return, which reveals the physician's struggle to remain objective in the face of human suffering. (fn) Audio

1939. A photo of the three brothers is taken during the summer in Watertown SD. In September, Hitler invades Poland and World War II begins. That same September, Gayle invades first grade and a long career in education begins.

1940. The adjacent studio photo of 9-year-old Gayle is taken during his second grade year. Click on it for a larger image.

1941. Gayle writes a postcard to his father, admitting that "I went down in conduct and effort for throwing snow balls on the school grounds." The U.S. enters WWII in December.

1942. Several weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the family moves from Watertown, SD to Fort Worth, TX. Gayle recalled listening to "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You" on the southward journey to his new home. He will come to adopt Texas as his state, and will consider himself a Texan throughout the rest of his life. His father James takes the job of Education, Youth and War Service Director of the Texas SDA Conference. Ten-year-old Gayle develops the ability to identify the various war planes from a distance, and remains fascinated by WWII aircraft throughout his life. (fn)

1942-3? While in Fort Worth, Gayle takes odd jobs. This miraculous story, "Chipped Bathtub," is from that time. Gayle also has a job as a delivery boy for Goolsby's Drugstore in Fort Worth, TX. He's making a delivery during a rainstorm and rides his bicycle across a ball field. Lightning strikes the iron goalpost as Gayle pedals past it. The lightning bolt blasts him off his bike, and he regains consciousness to find himself spread-eagle in the mud. Another story from this time: Gayle is helping clean up after a local camp meeting. He falls from one of the wagons that is transporting tents, and lands on his side, causing extensive bruising around his kidney. Also around this time, Gayle goes on a family camping vacation to nearby Glen Rose, TX, and returns with over 400 chigger bites on his body. All good character-building experiences for the young Texan. (fn) Audio

1944. This year, in the Fort Worth church, 13-year-old Gayle decides to live a life of service to God. In October, he makes this sketch of Calvary. However, within the next few years, he apparently has second thoughts. Also around this time, Gayle recalled that about half the homes in his town displayed service flags in their windows. He recalls how painful it was to pass by houses and notice when blue stars had been replaced by gold ones. (fn)

1945, Gayle attends 7th grade in Fort Worth, Texas. A class photograph is taken against the southern wall of the Hemphill SDA church. Gayle is the tall kid in the middle of the back row, with his arm around a friend. If you match the column and window placement of the brick wall behind the class, you can see exactly where the class stood 60 years earlier in this 2005 photograph.

1946. The Rhoads family moves from Fort Worth, Texas to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a few months, then to Lincoln, Nebraska later in 1947. Gayle and his friend Dusbebeck seek employment at one of the fanciest mansions in Lincoln, consisting of 23 rooms, which belongs to attorney Frank Woods Sr. They're hired to work on the mansion's grounds, raking leaves and tending the garden. Woods finds Gayle to be a careful and circumspect young man, and eventually asks him to be his chauffeur. (See the story "A Rumpled Fender.") The maid is incredulous that Gayle doesn't eat meat and serves him two eggs every day so he will have sufficient protein in his diet. He eventually develops an aversion to eggs. (fn)

1948. Gayle is a sophomore in high school. He is attending College View Academy in Lincoln, NE from 1947-1949. He also takes flying lessons in the spring or summer of 1948. He may have had a military career in mind. The plane he's learning to fly has virtually no instrumentation. He is on a solo flight, on a windy day, with his instructor (photo 1? 2?) observing from the ground. As he's landing, the wind suddenly and completely shifts directions. (Major wind shifts are not unusual in Nebraska.) Gayle is now landing with the wind instead of against it. Gayle thinks about praying, but resists, because he's going through a non-religious phase of life--he had stopped attending church. The wind starts buffeting his plane violently as he nears the ground, and he decides it's a good time to start praying again. He's blown off the runway and sets down hard in a nearby cornfield, pushing the struts up through the airplane's wings. Gayle is shaken but not badly injured. Close friends later point to this incident as a conversion experience. Gayle is convinced he is alive for some good reason. His thoughts turn to becoming a minister, like his father James and grandfather W. Bert Rhoads. Gayle doesn't pilot again, but retains his fascination with flight throughout life. (Story based on this event.) By August 1948, the Rhoads family has moved from Lincoln, Nebraska back to Keene, Texas, a few miles from the home they left in Fort Worth in 1946. In Keene, the Rhoads family lives on a small farm. A calf, "Beezer," is born, causing much excitement. The following day, Gayle develops appendicitis, and must undergo surgery. Gayle is loopy as he's recovering from the anesthesia. The physician asks him if he has any questions about the operation. Gayle says, "Yes, doctor, how long have you been operating on horses?" As Gayle is recovering in the hospital, his father and some friends pay him a visit. Gayle inquires after the health of young Beezer. James says, "Beezer's bubbling at the butt." Gayle suffers excruciating pain as he laughs, but can't stop laughing all the same. (Corroborating evidence for Gayle's lack of "Giggle Control" here.) This may also have been the year that Gayle (with the encouragement of his father) manages to tip a 1-1/2 ton truck with a full load of gravel on its side. Gayle was sitting in the driver's seat with his father directing the operation from the rear; the driver's door was open, and as Gayle raised the bed to dump the gravel, the truck heeled over to the driver's side. Gayle avoided injury by hanging on grimly to the steering wheel as the truck went over. Just one more close call for Gayle, who must have been getting used to them by now. Here's a letter from Gayle's brother Bert, trying to talk Gayle into "finishing high school at least," and offering financial assistance to the man who will spend his life as an educator, noting "I know that you aren't particularly fond of school." (fn)

1949. In Keene, Gayle attends Southwestern Junior College Academy (then abbreviated "SWJCA," now Chisholm Trail Academy) as a junior. He works on the school's grounds. He meets Carlton Blackburn, (see interesting fn on Blackburn) who has returned from military service and now serves as SWJC's PE teacher and commanding officer of the Medical Cadet Corps (MCC), an organization that trains medics for combat duty. Blackburn recollects his first encounter with Gayle: having to shoo him away from the gym while the girls are exercising in it (see the rest of the story in the footnote). Gayle soon joins MCC, which entails training and bivouacs (photos 1, 2, 3, 4). Throughout the post-war period and into the beginning of the cold war, the Corps continues its mission. Through a series of promotions and awards over the next 15 years, Gayle eventually becomes a Cadet Commanding Officer of MCC, becoming something of an outdoorsman in the process. Gayle 's interest in the ministry has been re-awakened, and this year he preaches his first sermon at the age of 18 in the Fort Worth church. 1949 is likely the year that Gayle earns the nickname "Rip." Gayle has driven his father's '47 Chevy to Bobby Rider's house, wearing his one good suit of clothes. Gayle steps up and down on the running board while chatting with friends, but loses his blance and falls, catching his pants on a corner of the fender as he goes down. He rips a glorious tear in his good pants. "You've really ripped your britches now," observes Bobby, and the appelation sticks. He is "Rip Rhoads" to his Texas friends for life. (fn)

1950. This spring, Gayle is a high school senior at SWJCA, and judging by the number of photos in the school's yearbook, a "big man on campus" who's involved in many extracurricular activities, singing above all. He also works for Carlton Blackburn as a reader, reports to him as his MCC Commander, and sings with him in a quartet. Despite the age difference of 18 years, the two enjoy a lifelong friendship. In the summer, Gayle graduates from high school in Keene, Texas. (He will attend junior college, SWJC, in the fall.) Gayle also meets Ray Herber at Keene, who becomes a close family friend and Gayle's physician later in life. In the fall of this year, a coed named Bette Jewell Lenz is living in the girl's dorm at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her dorm monitor tells her there's a boy named Gayle Rhoads at Keene, who "has so much in common with you, you should meet him. But he’s already going with a girl." The comment is forgotten until later. (fn)

1950 is also the year that Gayle and his friend Sandy Clayton spend the summer tending the Klondike Ranch and hiking and camping along the Brazos river in Texas. As Texas has become his state, the Brazos becomes his river. Sandy and Gayle cut cedar posts and sell them "to buy beans," their summer camping fare. At one point they unknowingly pitch camp on Johnny B. Wright's land, who, cradling a shotgun, appears outside their pup tent. The tension doesn't last long; Wright befriends the two teenagers and shows them a whisky still on his land. (See SC's recollections here.) This year, Gayle also befriends Jim Singleterry and the notorious Wyoming boy William Crawford ("W.C.") Beeler (see "Beeler Dribbles"). Fred Speyer also becomes a close friend, traveling companion, and singing partner in a quartet with Carlton Blackburn and Roy Jones. They build a repertoire of about 80 songs and are in demand around the state. Here's a photo of Fred and Gayle on summer vacation in Colorado. (See the story, "Speyer Honks," and FS's recollections.) (fn)

1951. In July, Gayle is chosen as a delegate from SWJC to the World Congress of SDA Youth, held in Paris, France. He flies to Paris on a Lockheed Constellation and sails from Europe aboard the Dutch ship Volendam. Gayle is also elected Student Association president this year. (fn)

1952. This summer, Gayle graduates from SWJC in Keene, Texas. (He will transfer to Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska as a junior.) Since Gayle is moving back to Lincoln, he writes a letter to his old boss, Frank Woods Sr, asking if any work is available at the mansion. Gayle is unaware that Frank Sr. has recently died. As Frank Jr. is sorting through his father's estate, he finds Gayle's open letter on his father's desk. So Frank Jr. hires Gayle to become the caretaker at the empty mansion while it is for sale. The mansion does not sell for a very long time, providing Gayle with both a job and a swank off-campus residence. He lives in a room over the large garage. Gayle's friend Speyer also rooms at the mansion in 1954---there were plenty of rooms--23 of them, to be exact. (fn)

1953. BJ Lenz rooms with a girl that year who has a large picture of Gayle on her desk. This is BJ's first visual of Gayle. (I know what you're thinking, but Gayle and the girl stop dating of their own accord.) The following semester, BJ is late to the first day of an English class. There's one seat left in the room, next to Gayle. Weeks later, Gayle spots BJ, who is splashing around in a puddle, barefoot. He asks her for a date. Months later, Gayle proposes to BJ in the third floor of the Woods mansion. They get in trouble with the school for staying out too late that night. Here are two photos of Gayle & his car from '53. (fn)

1954. B.J. Lenz graduates with her B.A. in English from Union College in May; she minors in home ec, biology, and education. Gayle graduates with his B.A. in Religion from Union College in July; he minors in history and education. On August 18, Gayle marries Bette Jewell Lenz in La Junta, Colorado. Photo 1: groom and bride. Photo 2: Darlene Lenz, W.O. Lenz, B.J. Lenz, Gayle Rhoads, James Rhoads, Don Rhoads. In September, the young couple moves to Beaumont Texas, where Gayle serves his first ministerial internship.

1955. In the fall, Gayle and BJ meet Ron Christensen. Gayle is serving his second ministerial internship at the Houston Central Church in Houston, Texas. Ron comes to the church expecting a Friday night meeting and finds only Gayle and BJ working in the church office. Ron becomes a frequent dinner guest at the Rhoads house, and close friend. See "Gayle Quibbles" for a fun story involving Ron.

1955-6. Gayle discovers canoeing. Much later in life, he started a computer file called "Early Canoe Memories," and it contained this one sentence: "I was driving west on Law street when my eyes fell on a green canoe parked in a front yard, a strange sight for a yard in Houston Texas." But the rest of the story is here and in the footnote: BJ purchased that canoe for him (serial #146544) for $50. Gayle refinished it, gave it a fiberglass skin, and painted it white-over-blue with a thin gold stripe and an acorn leaf at bow and stern. (His friend Ron Christensen helped him.) Gayle cherished his memories of time spent camping and canoeing on the Brazos river in Texas. Once he was floating down a narrow tributary when he heard a startling sound. He grabbed the lines tied to the bow and jumped onto the bank. And just in time; he had almost run the canoe over a waterfall! (fn)

1956 is also the year that Gayle starts his third ministerial internship in Tyler, Texas. While in Tyler, Gayle is ordained as a minister of the SDA church during the summer of 1957.

1957. Gayle is given responsibility for a ministerial district in McCook, Nebraska. Around this time he is finishing a project: he's laboriously typing out scores of pages of sermon notes and assembling them into a thick 5-ring binder. As is a minister's duty, he is searching for, and cataloging, sermon material and counsel to give to church members. Thoughout his life he collects prayers. He will follow the advice of paragraph #2 on this page in another year or two. (fn)

1958. Gayle and BJ move from Tyler, Texas to the tiny town of Enders, Nebraska. While serving as the local minister in McCook, Gayle is asked to teach some Bible classes at Platte Valley Academy (aerial photo). This is the beginning of a career change, and 39 years of subsequent service in Christian education. (fn)

1959. Gayle and BJ move a little over 100 miles east to Shelton, Nebraska, where Platte Valley Academy is located. Gayle becomes the pastor of the Academy church in September and teaches religion courses. He gains a reputation as a creative teacher with some unconventional methods. Gayle is also the school's MCC Captain, and with his friend Don Weatherall, has adventures in the wildlands of the midwest (see DW's recollections here). (fn)

1960. This year, Gayle teaches an art class at PVA. He had made an oil-on-canvas painting that wasn't to his liking, so while the paint was still fresh, he scraped most of it off with an artist's knife, which would allow him to reuse the canvas for another painting. This left horizontal purple, red, brown, and black streaks on the canvas. The result reminded him of what was currently passing for "modern art," so when it was dry, he put it in a wood-and-burlap frame, and hung it in the classroom for a joke. A young woman who was visiting her brother at PVA happened to see the painting, and expressed an interest. "What's it called?" she asked. Gayle pondered a moment, then said, "I call it... Nocturnal... Reflections." She asked to borrow the "painting" so she could display it for awhile. Gayle thought this was good fun, so he agreed. Later, Gayle found out the woman had entered the canvas in a prominent contest at the Lincoln Public Library, where it took first prize.

1962. Gayle undergoes surgery at Grand Rapids Michigan.

1963. Gayle is learning to play the guitar at this time. In June, Gayle and BJ start masters' degrees at Andrew's University in Michigan, 711 miles distant, which becomes "home" for the next four summers.

1964. Gayle and BJ move from Shelton, Nebraska to Lodi California, arriving September 2. They live on the Lodi Academy campus in an old house that has a quince tree in the back yard. As Gayle recollects later, "The Generous Years" of his life have begun. Gayle teaches religion and later, art and history. BJ teaches English and later, home ec and biology. The couple continue to pursue their degrees at Andrew's University in the summers. Overland road trips of 2200 miles now lie between Lodi, CA and Berrien Springs, MI. The trunk of the car was loaded with fresh California fruit before leaving, which was sometimes bartered for diesel fuel (at the glee of midwestern station owners) along the way. Gayle considered an appropriate day's driving to be 500 miles. Once at Andrew's, the family would occupy a dorm room for several months...and study. (fn)

1964? The Rhoads family purchases a large black poodle, Tokay. He is named after the famous Tokay grape that grows in Lodi. Tokay turns out to be a real character and a prolific sire to generations of Lodi half-breeds. He is also a lightning-fast brawler (note the fight scar under his eye in this 1977 photo); not exactly the image of the typical poodle!

1966. Gayle and BJ earn their master's degrees from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Gayle's is in religious education. Also this year, Harvey Voth becomes Lodi Academy's new principal. He becomes a mentor and close friend to Gayle. (fn)

1967. This is the last year that Lodi Academy operates as a boarding academy. The Academy converts to a day school. The old administration building (photos 1 & 2; Voth with plans for the new school) and the dorms are torn down; new cinderblock buildings (that are still standing as of 2006) are erected. Gayle rescues a rose garden that was in the way of the new buildings. He replants about 24 of these bushes around his house. This summer, Gayle and BJ tour Europe from June to August, traveling as far as Istanbul. They "live" in a Mercedes Benz they've purchased in Stuttgart and cook their meals over a Primus camper's stove. Always on the lookout for protein for her vegetarian family, BJ purchases several "peeled hard boiled eggs" for sale in an Istanbul market. They are tasty, but are flaky in texture and have no yolks inside. Perhaps they weren't eggs after all...

1968. Gayle's older brother James Berton Rhoads is named as the fifth Archivist of the United States. Bert serves in Washington for 27 years. The most prominent public issues during his tenure are the controversy over the whereabouts of JFK's brain and the contested ownership of the Nixon Watergate tapes.

1969. Gayle is reading books on art and taking art notes in a card file. He takes a watercolor class from the renowned artist Vernon Nye at Big Sur, California (date uncertain).

1970. In July, Gayle and BJ move to Monterey Bay Academy (aerial photo) with Harvey Voth, who becomes that school's principal. College friend Fred Speyer is teaching there, too. Gayle takes all of his rescued rose bushes with him. At MBA, Gayle teaches religion classes and also serves as assistant pastor at the campus church. There's little free time. Work at a boarding academy is around the clock because the students are a constant responsibility. There's less than a week of sunlight each year at the bay; it's foggy the rest of the time. (Of course, the day the Rhoads family visited MBA to see if they wanted to live there, it was one of those rare sunny days.)

1971. Gayle takes up calligraphy. On his 40th birthday, he laboriously writes out Shakespeare's second sonnet: "When forty winters shall besiege thy brow..." (read the sonnet here). At the end of this year, Gayle is asked to become the principal of Lodi Academy. (fn)

1972. Gayle and BJ return to Lodi Academy (aerial photo), and Gayle becomes the school's principal in July, with his friend Hugh Winn as vice principal. The "Generous Years" have resumed. Gayle will hold this job for 14 years--a long time, given the prevailing norms of the somewhat nomadic nature of the Adventist teaching system. The two dozen rose bushes move back to Lodi, too, being planted behind the principal's house at 1318 S. Central Avenue. Also planted were several fruit trees: cherry, apricot, & apple. Some of these are still producing fruit as of 2005. Recently, a cassette tape was discovered of Gayle addressing the Lodi Academy student body at the beginning of this school year. It has been digitized and is available in CD format. (We invite readers to alert us if any other recordings are known to be in existence.)

1973. Gayle and BJ have a large garden for several years running. Staples are: radishes, tomatoes, onions, corn, lettuce, and sometimes potatoes. Canning fruit, making root beer, and refinishing antiques are regular summer events. They also have more fresh eggs than Gayle cares to eat, thanks to a dozen Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red chickens. Thomas the Cat, however, contributes nothing.

Date 1974? Gayle takes a class in jewelry making. He loves the lost wax method. Some of the items he creates are a silver napkin ring, a copper candle holder, an iron sailing ship, and a brass belt buckle.

1975. This fall, two photos of the Lodi Academy campus are taken from a tall weeping willow tree in Gayle's back yard, and are stitched together into a panorama 30 years later, when computer software makes it easy. Also, a winter photo of Gayle & BJ singing to the accompaniment of a player piano. (fn)

1976. The family spends bicentennial day refinishing antique trunks on their back porch, watching the celebrations on a small b/w TV. The family collects cloth patches commemorating the day.

1977. In January, Gayle mentors a young student teacher, Doug Herrmann. (Doug will become a trusted colleague 11 years later at LLA.) In May, Gayle purchases the first of many automobiles for restoration, a 1942 GMC Pickup. In June, Gayle and BJ travel to Europe; Gayle writes a paper for academic credit on the construction of cathedrals. (fn)

1977? Gayle and family are nearly wiped off the face of the earth by a semi's wrecking ball trailer that breaks loose at freeway speeds. It pirouettes erratically and grazes the front of the pickup that Gayle is driving, leaving a pattern of white paint on the front valence of his green Chevy pickup that he later calls "angel's feathers."

1978. Tokay the Poodle dies at 14. Tacey the Replacement Poodle joins the family in 1980, but dies a few years later, after eating some redwood lumber and a turtle. (fn)

1979. Gayle is elected president of the Lodi Rotary Club. The international meeting this year is in Rome, so Gayle packs the family and goes. One event on this trip was a private audience with the Pope, John Paul II. What was meant by "private audience" was that several hundred Rotarians from all over the world were allowed to be in the same auditorium as the Pope for a few minutes. While the family was in Europe, American Airlines Flight 191 crashed in Chicago on May 25. It remains America's deadliest aviation accident to date. At the time it was thought a defective bolt allowed an engine to drop off the wing (but modern commentators point to shoddy maintenance instead). All DC-10 flights were immediately grounded. Since the Rhoads family had flown over on a DC-10, they had no return passage. They "lived" in the Frankfurt airport for an unplanned and underfunded week. Gayle appointed himself as negotiator for all the other stranded passengers that had flown to Europe on the same plane, spending each day negotiating flights for them, one by one, back to the States. After the other passengers had been successfully booked on alternate flights, the Rhoads family, now down to their last German coins, finally negotiated their own passage home. When Gayle talked of "Service Above Self," he meant it. (fn)

1981. This year Gayle obtains an EdS degree from Loma Linda University. James and Mary Rhoads move from Hendersonville NC to Lodi CA, living a couple miles south of Lodi Academy. This summer, Gayle takes a class in geology. Here he is in July or August, splitting rocks to find fish fossils at Fontanelle Reservoir, Wyoming. In December (date uncertain), Gayle is visiting his father-in-law W.O. Lenz in Phoenix, Arizona at Christmas. He goes for a little exercise by walking up a low hill on public property near W.O.'s house, and upon reaching the top, is shot at by troglodytes with rifles who are a quarter mile away. The bullets miss, but they splat and ricochet loudly on nearby rocks as Gayle scrambles down the hill to take cover. (fn)

1982. This year, he is selected as Alumnus of the Year for Loma Linda University's School of Education.

1983. In February, Gayle is still rebuilding pickups as a hobby. Around this time he is working on a couple of Chevy LUV pickups, one with a blown engine. He paints it orange and puts a Toyota engine in it. One problem: the Toyota driveshaft doesn't reach the differential. So, with no lathe training, he custom machines an adapter bushing. It turns out to be one speedy pickup. Not bad for a guy who never took a shop class. Encouraged by this, Gayle attempts to turn a wooden canoe paddle on the lathe. It explodes into splinters. Gayle spends the summer in La Sierra, CA to work on his doctorate. Here he is, studying his eyes out, and again, spooking BJ. On November 18, Gayle undergoes surgery for a non-malignant tumor.

1984. Gayle is awarded Schoolmaster of the Year. He is interviewed by the local press. Somewhere in the middle of the interview the reporter asks what he would have done as a child if he'd known he was going to become a school principal someday. "Suicided!" he jokes, and then answers the question. This throw-away comment becomes the lead sentence in the story published in the Lodi News-Sentinel. And the Schoolmaster of the Year Award isn't even mentioned. Gayle re-learns an important lesson about the press: it's entertainment above substance. (fn)

1986. On June 15, Gayle earns his doctorate in administration and leadership (Ed.D.) from Loma Linda University. His dissertation is titled "Voluntary Lateral Transfers for Seventh-day Adventist Day Academies," and it's on the sober topic of attrition in SDA schools. (He had originally wanted to write his dissertation on angels, but practical arguments got the best of him.) The issue of whether or not to move the Lodi SDA Elementary School onto the Lodi Academy Campus becomes the topic of Adventist community debate. In July, Gayle accepts the principal's position at Thunderbird Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona (aerial photo). This position includes not only the standard educational responsibilities, but also management of the campus industries. Vek, the third poodle, joins the family. Vek develops a strong attachment to Gayle. The story "Shooters Busted" is from this time.

1988. In June, Gayle accepts the head principal's position at Loma Linda Academy, California (aerial photo). He will serve here for eight years, with over 120 staff and 1500 students on campus each year. The Loma Linda Academy combines a high school, a middle school, and a grade school on one large campus, and represents the largest existing SDA academy. BJ teaches in the middle school. Doug Herrmann, whom Gayle met in Lodi in 1977, is the high school principal. Doug becomes a trusted colleague and close friend. Gayle & BJ purchase their first house this year, after having rented homes on the campuses of all previous schools.

1993. Photos (1, 2, 3) taken of Gayle canoeing on Lake Perris, south of Loma Linda. This is also the year that Gayle and BJ take a trip back to their childhood homes in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

1994. On July 12, Gayle complains of a side ache, and longtime friend from college days, Dr. Raymond Herber, a GI specialist, discovers a renal carcinoma. Gayle undergoes surgery for the kidney cancer on July 29 at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Gayle is readmitted to the hospital on August 5 for pancreatitis. After his recovery, he completes the restoration of his second Old Town canoe that he adopted in Arizona.

1995? Gayle goes deaf, temporarily. (See the story here.) Doesn't slow him down much (photos 1, 2, 3). (fn)

1996. Gayle (unsuccessfully, as it turns out) retires from Loma Linda Academy on July 1. There are rounds of parties marking the event. On May 28 LLA holds a special session and give Gayle a rocking chair (photos 1, 2). On June 6, he's awarded an honorary diploma, making him an alumnus of LLA. A retirement party follows on June 16 (photos 1, 2). But LLA suddenly loses their elementary school principal. So Gayle fills the position in July '96 instead of retiring. He now reports to the new head principal, Roo McKenzie. (The story "Gore Jogs" is from this time.) Gayle and BJ find some time to work in their garden. It has roses, amaryllis, jasmine and narcissus, but the alstroemeria take charge in April. (fn)

1997. Gayle discovers email. He loves it. Also, this year he is invited to join the National Organization of University Women. His gender-ambiguous name still haunts him. In June, BJ (unsuccessfully, as it turns out) retires from LLA. By 1998 she is substitute teaching nearly full time, and will return to LLA again in 2003. Gayle is heavily involved in Civil Air Patrol (pledge, rank, badge). This entails may trips to Norton AFB (later SBIA), his white hair in striking contrast to his camouflage BDUs. He attains the rank of Major. (fn)

1998. Gayle retires from LLA again in June, this time from the elementary school principalship. He has worked as a pastor and educator over 44 years. He is asked to serve on as the school's archivist. He takes up campus residence in an office over the industrial arts building, which has since been renamed "Rhoads Hall." See "The Final Chapter" here.

1999. This year, Gayle is inducted into the Southwestern Adventist University Hall of Fame. Vek the Poodle dies at 13 years old on June 4. Oz the Fourth Poodle joins the family in August. Gayle undergoes surgery for brain cancer on August 25, and undergoes radiation treatment in November.

2000. This photo, "Gayle at the White Gate" is taken in the summer while he adjusts the gate's hinge. Oz, on his left, is Gayle's faithful companion.

2001. Gayle's mentor, Harvey Voth, dies in April. BJ writes "Gayle said that all the good things he learned in administration came from his mentor, Harvey Voth."

2002. On May 28, the industrial arts building at Loma Linda Academy is dedicated as Rhoads Hall (see the '04 article in LLA Reflections). BJ takes Gayle to the ceremony.

2003. Monday, April 28: the end of a life.

The icon above links to the site map.
Christmas 2004

Footnotes (fn)...

1928. Gayle's older brother is James Berton Rhoads, in his younger days called "Berton" or "Bertie" (to avoid confusion with his grandfather Bert). Berton was born September 17, 1928 in Sioux City, Iowa, almost four years after James and Mary were married.

1931. Gayle is born at 12:35 am on February 19. He weighs 7 lbs. 2 oz at birth. He weighs 26 lbs at 10 months. He takes his first step December 25, 1931. Regarding locations: At the time of Gayle's birth, the family lives in Osceola, IA. They lived there for approximately a year. Mary traveled to the Nevada sanitarium to deliver Gayle. The family next moved to Chariton IA; we have photographs documenting they were in Chariton the summer of 1932. Photos appear from Marshalltown IA in the summer of 1933. In March 1934 the family moved to Lisbon, ND. In the summer of 1934 photographs record the family in Lidgerwood, ND. [Bert Rhoads' notes reverse these last two towns, placing Lidgerwood before Lisbon.] GER's notes indicate a stay in Valley City ND next, but Bert Rhoads does not indicate Valley City, ND, in his list of cities. According to notes on photographs, the family lives in Fargo ND by 1935 (although GER records 1936). GER's notes indicate Enderline in 1937. MARKR appears to note the family moved to Watertown SD in the summer of 1939 in one source, but notes the move very precisely as October 4, 1937 in "FSTLAFO." GER notes the stay in Watertown as 1937-1941. MARKR also notes the stay in Watertown as "about four years while James worked in the Young People's Department." Source 1: My Baby's Childhood, Mary Keenan Rhoads, January 1933. Source 2: Childhood family photo album with annotations by MARKR. Source 3: GER's "Personal Record." Source 4: Letter from Bert Rhoads, Jan 9, 2005. Source 5: MARKR, "From Scituate to Lodi: A Family Odyssey."

1933. Gayle's first prayer at 18 months was: "God, Daddy, Momma, Bertie, Mine." Mary wrote, "One day I was showing you a bird book with a chickadee in it. I said, 'Chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee.' From then on you called birds 'birdadies.' Also Daddy was 'Dadadie' & Bertie, 'Bertadie." Another early Gayleism was "Don't kake it aw wup," (don't take it all), which he shouted at guests if he thought they were taking more than their share. Source: My Baby's Childhood, Mary Keenan Rhoads, January 1933. Source for the good-Bert, bad-Gayle story: Carlton Blackburn, phone conversation of 1/22/05, who of course heard the story originally from Gayle himself. Regarding the horse bank, Bert can recall that it was black, iron, and had a coin slot in its back.

1936. Bert Rhoads indicated that the family lived in Enderlin, ND in 1936. Mary's photo album placed the family in Fargo, ND at the time of Gayle's 5th birthday (February 1936). Dorothy Minchin Comm places the family in Watertown SD in 1936 (chapter 10, TPH).

1937. GER records: "Enderline - 1937. South Dakota - Watertown - 1937-1941. 717 N. Park St./Phone - 3202". GER records both Enderline (sic) and Watertown as home in 1937. Regarding the broken nose, Dorothy Minchin Comm mentions the event in her book The Paper House. Location given as Chariton IA during a summer visit to the William Berton Rhoads' farm: "About the same time, we got too boisterous with our tire-swing, and Gayle fell out of it and broke his nose." p.24. A rough calculation (DMC b.1930? in 1st grade in chapter 7) puts the year around 1936-8. The Minchin family accepts an overseas mission appointment to Singapore in 1936 (Chapter 10) which may or may not rule out 1937, since acceptance is before actual travel, and a DMC visit to Watertown on the way to Singapore indicates DMC was still stateside in late 1937.

DONALD RHOADS: Don was born in Fargo in September 1937 (at Mrs. Camp's Maternity Hospital), but the family no longer lived in Fargo at that time--they had moved to Enderlin, recollects Bert Rhoads. Don is born nine years to the day later than Berton. For the record, Dr. Donald Rhoads is currently Associate Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, at Andrews University.

1938. Date uncertain, but the illness occurred in Watertown, SD. By GER's record we put the family in Watertown as early as 1937. We have the physician's response to James dated May 1942, where he says he retired December 1941. James may have written a letter to the physician in '41 or '42. He refers to Gayle as a baby in that letter, but Gayle was likely seven or perhaps eight years old. Bert Rhoads recollects the surgery was likely in 1938 but perhaps 1939.

1939. In Oct 1996, Gayle wrote to S. about a trip back to Watertown SD: "About three years ago, BJ and I flew to Minneapolis, rented a car, and looked for the homes of our childhoods in the Dakotas and Minnesota. We found them, although one or two of the houses were quite dilapidated. I was surprised that so many of them were in a good state of preservation. I was particularly impressed with how things have shrunk. In Watertown the significant hill on North Park Street, (Gusso's lived in the large brick house obliquely situated on the North East corner at the bottom of the hill), is now only a gentle rise in the terrain. The mighty escarpment known as Mellette (Sp?) Hill, on which we used to take our lives in our mittened hands to ski or sled into the abyss, has now been all but leveled off. Our house on Park Street (717, Phone - 3202, --How does one remember such trivia from the past, but forget the important matters of the present?!), is now the same design as it was, but of diminutive proportions."

1941. GER notes "Texas - Fort Worth - l941-1946. 2400 Lipscomb St. (The house has been replaced) 803 W. Arlington (on the SW corner of West Arlington and Travis, this house has also been replaced)." Don Rhoads amends this recollection: "2200 Lipscomb St, not 2400."

1942. HOUSING: Bert Rhoads writes in a Jan 2005 letter that the family moved to Fort Worth early in 1942. Don Rhoads also places 1942 as the move date, and corrects the family's address: "2200 Lipscomb St, not 2400. The house we lived in there was made of concrete blocks and had a very crummy basement and lots of rats...It was there that Gayle suffered some from gender confusion, receiving a letter from some firm addressed to Miss Gayle Rhoads, 2200 Lapacomb St, Ft Worth Texas...The other house at 803 W Arlington was on gravel streets. I think that was the first house my parents bought. It was a simple little two bedroom house. I remember a big Elm tree in the back yard that Daddy put a sand box under. I was in that sand box when my mother opened the window and told me President Roosevelt had died. This place was just back of the Adventist church on Hemphill St, where I first went to school (where that 4th grade photo from Ann was taken...)" Gayle and Don attended several years of gradeschool in the basement of the Hemphill SDA Church, which was only a block distant from their Arlington St. home. The classrooms were accessed through the little portal seen in the back of the church here. Currently, it is a Spanish SDA Church, and you can clearly see where Gayle's 4th grade photo in 1942 was taken along the side of the church in this 2005 photo. The two houses on Lipscomb and Arlington have been replaced by new ones.

AUTOMOBILE: The family car seen in this photo taken in 1939 at 717 N Park Street, Watertown SD, was stolen in San Antonio around this time [Source: Don Rhoads].

DRUGSTORE: Bert was also a drugstore delivery boy in Fort Worth. Don recollects: "1942, I remember Gayle working as bicycle delivery for Goolsby's Drugstore." The name Goolsby's disappeared at some unknown date, but a drugstore does exist in an quaint brick building several blocks north on Hemphill, in the vicinity of where Don recollected Goolsby's to be.

1944: Robert "Bobby" Rider was Gayle's friend during these first Texas years. Robert's family had commissioned Gayle to do some poster lettering for them, and this is how Robert and Gayle met. Robert confirms that Gayle was looking to set the direction of his life as early as age 13-14. Gayle wasn't certain he wanted to live the minister's life, like his father. But Robert urged Gayle to enter the ministry: "You need to commit. You have the voice, the demeanor, the sincerity that's needed," Robert recalls telling Gayle. Eventually, Gayle reported to Bobby: "I've made the decision." It was Robert that later gave Gayle the nickname of "Rip," see year 1949. Robert Rider went on to become the Oklahoma SDA conference president for 18 years.

1946: Gayle's father James is remembered to have served as principal of College View Academy in Lincoln Nebraska (where Gayle becomes a student?) around this time [BJR], and to have worked at Union College from 46-48 [DR].

1946-7: GER records: "Minnesota - Minneapolis - l946-1947, 3740 Bryant Avenue South - LOcust 4515." In 1947, his future wife BJ Lenz starts high school at Campion Academy, Colorado. (F. Speyer puts the date of the Rhoads family move to Keene as 47 or 48.) Note that the work at the Woods mansion could have occurred in either '47 or '48, according to Bert Rhoads, in a letter of Jan 9 2005.

1947. Berton and Sadie Angela Handy are married in Houston on August 12, 1947. " On Bert and Angela's wedding, my recollection was that it was very hot in Houston... Apparently Bert had some Bay Rum in his bag, which was a strongly pungent aftershave. While he was traveling, the container leaked all over his pajamas, staining them badly, and making them quite pungent, too, I guess. So here he comes to his bride on their wedding night with his PJ's all soaked in this stuff, looking awful. I guess he got quite a reaction from Angela." [Don Rhoads]

1948. Gayle records: "Nebraska - Lincoln - 1947-1949. Bancroft St. (the house was immediately South of the public school. It has been replaced.)." (Note that Gayle records the academy not as College View Academy, but as Union College Academy in Lincoln, NE. Here is a sketch that Gayle completed around this time.)

FLYING LESSONS: The beginning date means that '47 is the earliest year GER could have been taking flying lessons in Nebraska, but 1948 is also a possibility. We also know Gayle is taking flying lessons around the same time he gets his driver's license, because he needs to drive to the airport for his flight lessons. 1947 puts Gayle at 16 years old, the age a driver's license may be obtained, so this fits. A 2005 note from Bert Rhoads places the airplane crash in the spring or summer of 1948, so I have used his date. Carlton Blackburn points to the plane crash as a conversion experience. Brother Don writes a story in 1956, based on Gayle's experience.

APPENDICITIS & SURGERY: A September 3, 1948 letter from Burt to Gayle in TX references a recent operation of Gayle's (probably the appendectomy) that would likely keep Gayle from performing physical labor, thus no job, thus no school, so Burt writes to offer financial assistance, encouraging Gayle to consider "...finishing high school at least" at SWJC.

CARLTON BLACKBURN: A note on Clyde Carlton Blackburn, a.k.a. "C.C. Blackburn" or "Blackie": He was born May 3 1913 in Fort Worth, TX. Blackburn attended SWJC (now Southwestern Adventist University) for two years and graduated in 1932. Later he received a BA from Union College in Lincoln, NE. Blackburn then taught at Madison College in Nashville, TN. He married his wife Ione Johnson on Dec 21, 1941, just two weeks after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Days later, Blackburn was called to duty in the Army, and he served in the North Africa (5 mo) and Naples (22 mo) campaigns during WWII as part of the military's medical lab. He was a parasitologist, in particular, a malariologist. It was his duty to keep the blood supply free of malaria. In 1946 Blackburn moved to SWJC and served as the boy's dean. In 1948 he was also teaching physical education and was asked to command the Keene Medical Cadet Corps (MCC). Blackburn served on the staff at Keene for 17 years. Then he adopted the lifestyle of the traveling Adventist educator, accepting successive calls to Rio Lindo Academy, then to Takoma Academy, then to Golden Gate Academy, and finally to Calimesa Jr. Academy, where Ione died, and C.C. retired. Later, Blackburn moved to Arkansas and married Cheryl Smith. The next stop was Washington, and finally back to his childhood home of Keene in 2001. CC Blackburn helped furnish a lot of the stories found on this website between January and August of 2005, shortly before he died on April 24 of 2006. Gayle was listed in Blackburn's memorial service programme as an Honorary Pallbearer. Carlton Blackburn set a record after his death as the nation's oldest organ donor, nearly 93 years old; see stories here, here and especially here.

MEDICAL CADET CORPS: MCC was an organization started in 1934 by Dr. Dick of Union College, a WWI vet. He created MCC in preparation for what he guessed would be an eventual war against Hitler. He wanted a way for SDAs to serve their country without bearing arms. During WWII, Adventists were encouraged to become 1-A-O, "conscientious cooperators," who would enter the military as noncombatants. Many became medics, a job that brought all the dangers of battle and none of the protection of being armed. Gayle was 14 (7th grade) when WWII ended. While it's a guess that Gayle joined MCC in 1948, documents exist showing Gayle was promoted from Private to PFC on 14 December 1948 by Carton Blackburn, letterhead: Hq. S.W.J.C. M.C.C. Further records show a promotion to Corporal in March 1949, then to Sergeant, Technical Sergeant, and First Sergeant (dates unknown). [DR] affirms: "1948 yes, was the year we moved to Keene.") A photo from 1954 shows Gayle wearing lieutenant's bars--can't tell if they're second or first. Gayle remains involved with MCC through PVA days, eventually rising to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. This 1962 photo is probably one of the latest we have of MCC activities. The unofficial date of Gayle's exit from MCC is probably early 1964, since Lodi had no MCC program. Also, MCC was being phased out all over the nation at this time.

JAMES RHOADS: Don Rhoads recollects: "During this time he [James] started on a doctorate in Education at U of Nebraska." JHR does not complete the doctorate, but each of his three sons does, as do two of his grandchildren. 1948 is likely the year that James became ill (a letter from Gayle to his mother in July 1949 obliquely refers to James' illness), precipitating the move from Nebraska to the small farm in Keene, Texas. Fred Speyer recollects that James gets a job in Bascom's furniture factory at this time.

BEEZER: Regarding the Beezer story, a secondary source put James as the reporter on Beezer's disposition, but another secondary source notes this would be highly unusual language for James to have used. Don Rhoads comments: "I think I witnessed the event cited where Daddy said 'Beezer's bubbling at the butt.' That was not such unusual language for him."

BERTON RHOADS: Brother Bert and his wife Angela lived with the JH Rhoads family in Lincoln for a year while Bert held a night-shift job at a downtown creamery and attended Union College by day. A September 3 Letter from Bert to Gayle places Bert in Oakland, CA.

1949. Gayle was elected pastor of the Junior class the first year he attended SWJCA, and also joined the choir, the octet, and the nature club.

THE SWJC GYMNASIUM: There's more to the gymnasium story. Gayle was supposed to be working on the school's grounds, including the grounds around the gym, but in the evenings, Blackburn noticed Gayle would always be working around they gym and nowhere else. Supposing he was there to watch the girls exercise, he tried to shoo Gayle away several times. Finally Blackburn confronted Gayle about why he insisted on being around the gym in the evenings. "Because the girl's gym teacher is alone in the gym after class lets out, and it gets dark early, and someone ought to be around just in case." Blackburn observed that Gayle had appointed himself the teacher's unofficial security guard. This was the event that made Blackburn recognize Gayle as an unusual student.

KEENE/ CLEBURNE "FARM": Regarding this year, GER records as his residence: "Texas - Keene - l949-(currently [1997] owned by Gene Hill. West of Keene on the Old Mansfield Road. Formerly known as 'the Old Mattison Place')." As of 2005 the Rhoads/ Mattison/ Hill residence still stands at 104 S. Old Mansfield Road, a small white cottage set back from Old Mansfield Road about 400 feet, now obscured from view of the road by a hedgerow. Several surrounding acres qualified the place as a small farm, on which the family had a half-dozen cattle (including Gayle's calf "Smoky"), chickens, snakes (!) and grew alfalfa. The small "milk house" which still stands behind the main house was built by James and claimed by Don as his bedroom and shop. Gayle also enjoyed a bit of private space behind the house by slinging a wooden bedframe between trees and pitching a tarp over it, making a spacious, sturdy, dry hammock. (He would make a similar one in Lodi and enjoyed sneaking a nap in it occasionally.) A letter written July 30, 1949 places Gayle on Madeline Island (Wisconsin?) at the service of his employer Mr. Woods, possibly for a Woods family reunion. In this letter, Gayle writes of his father, "I suppose Daddy's work is past now," (overestimating the impact of his father's illness?) and alluding to the purchase of a farm.

THE HOLY CLUB: Fred Speyer recalls that he, Gayle, and other aspiring pastors from the village are dubbed "The Holy Club" by their fellow students. This group of friends actively participates in preaching, Bible study, song services, and evangelism because they are giving this line of work a "trial run." The quartet sings together from 1949-1951, according to Fred Speyer. Regarding the "Rip" story and his Keene friend Robert Rider, see the footnote to 1944 above.

BRAZOS RIVER: The story of the beans and Johnny B. Wright is from Blackburn. Here is an aerial photo of the section of the Brazos that runs between Cleburne (off the photo to the right) and Glen Rose (which is visible in the bottom left corner). It's likely that Gayle was intimately acquainted with this stretch of the river, given its proximity to his home.

1950. KLONDIKE RANCH & BRAZOS RIVER: Sandy Clayton documents that the "summer of camping" was in 1950. (Gayle was one of the "hikingist" guys that Blackburn says he ever knew.) Ham Creek was a favorite destination. See Gayle's recollections of a close call with Johnny B. Wright below Ham Creek. The Klondike Ranch (entrance in 1950, 2005) still exists where the FM 916 nears the Brazos, as does the fortress-like Klondike ranchouse (1950, 2005) the walls of which are constructed of 2-ft thick stone. According to CC Blackburn, at one point the ranchouse was abandoned, and each of its many small windowpanes broken by meticulous vandals. The owners allowed MCC to bivouac there, so MCC cleaned up the glass shards with shovels and wheelbarrows, and made the ranchouse weathertight and comfortable. MCC would sometimes billet 100 men in the ranchouse! The bunkhouse where Gayle and Sandy lived on the ranch for the summer-- hewing "cedar" fenceposts, sometimes until their hands bled--is no longer standing. However the Klondike bluff still affords a grand view of the Brazos, like these taken in 1950.

BJ LENZ: 1950 is also the year that
BJ Lenz graduates from Campion Academy. She attends Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1951. Gayle continues to work in the Gym and for Blackburn this year.

QUARTET: Regarding the quartet date, F. Speyer says: "Roy Jones our baritone graduated in May of '51, and broke up the quartet that had been together about four years." (August 1948 was when Gayle moved to Keene).

FASHION: In these years, Gayle is seen wearing either the MCC olive drab BDUs or formal and fashionable double-breasted suits with ornate ties. There's no middle ground. He appears to be going through a "fashion plate" phase, taking care to dress smartly. Gayle also had a distinctive, asymetrical way of sitting, that was both casual and at the same time gave the impression that he was ready to leap from his chair at a moment's notice. He sat like this his entire life, even as an old man, and the posture was unique to him.

1951. A letter from the GCSDA notes that Gayle departed for Paris aboard an Air France flight on July 22 at noon. The plane was a Lockheed Constellation, in which Gayle was able to sit in the cockpit for about half an hour during the flight. A cable announcing the delegation's safe arrival at the SDA Paris Youth Congress was received the morning of July 23; Gayle had landed arount 7am in the morning. Gayle stayed in the Messidor Hotel, 330 Rue de Vaugirard, about 5 blocks from Exposition Park, where the Congress was located. The Youth Congress ran from July 24 to July 29. While in Paris, Gayle took in many of the sights, including the Louvre and Versallies. While "the food is good," he worried about the cost at $1.50 per meal--"not so good," he writes. Gayle also went on a shirt buying spree, purchasing 15 of them. Apparently he could afford this...in a letter home, Gayle is playing with conversion rates and mentions that his net worth at 20 years old is 39,000 francs. Using the conversion rates that Gayle cited, that's equivalent to just under $12K in 1950s money ($87K by 2004 standards) -- a tidy sum that stretches the imagination, because the Rhoads family was quite poor. Perhaps young Gayle made a decimal error? By August 2, Gayle writes that he is ready to go home: "I'm becoming quite tired of France." The GCSDA letter notes that on the return trip, Gayle would leave from LeHavre around 1-3pm on the 8th and was due to arrive in Montreal on August 18, 4-8am, aboard the SS Volendam of the Holland America Line. If my translation from the Dutch, and the various sources on the internet are accurate: the 15,434-ton SS Volendam-I operated between 1922 and 1952. It was damaged August 1940 by a torpedo from the German submarine U-60, and repaired in New Jersey, after which the ship ferried troops from North Africa to Sicily, then returning with German and Italian prisoners to North Africa. After the war, the Volendam appears to have been a popular ship for shuttling students across the Atlantic. It may have been replaced by the SS Volendam-II in 1952.

1952. Gayle is elected president of the Associated Student Body at SWJC this year. Regarding the Woods mansion, after many months of listing the estate on the market, the Woods family attempts to give the mansion to the state, which would not accept it due to the mansion's need for costly, ongoing grounds maintenance. The selling price was lowered until the local Lincon and Ford dealer, Marrow, purchased the mansion. GER's record: "Nebraska - Lincoln - 1952 -1954. 2501 Sheridan Blvd." Back in Texas, the Rhoads family was weathering its third year of drought, which ran from 1950-1953.

1953. A strange coincidence: The Union campus women's dorm, where BJ lives from '50-'54, used to be the Nebraska Sanitarium, where Gayle's great grandmother Fietta Alfretta Heims Rhoads (the dame who brought Seventh-day Adventism into the family and met Ellen G. White) died in 1898. It's also circa 1953 (?) that B.J.'s friend from 5th grade (and one of her college roommates), Marilyn Dart, starts dating Ray Herber, whom she later marries.

1954. GER records: "Texas - Beaumont - 1954, l955." In March 1954 Gayle is awarded the Aaron E. Oswald Medal of Merit "...to Lieutenant Gayle Rhoads...The presentation was made by Captain C. C. Blackburn, commander of the Southwestern Junior College Medical Cadet Corps, Keene, Texas, where Lieutenant Rhoads was an outstanding member of the corps before coming to Union College...For exceptionallly meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services while a cadet officer in Company A, 10th Battalion, the War Service Commission of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, upon recommendation of your company commander and approval of higher commands, awards you the Aaron E. Oswald medal of merit." This year, Gayle first met BJ's father, W.O. Lenz, over a lunch that included macaroni and cheese. After finishing the meal, W.O. asked Gayle if he'd like to take some of the food home. "Why, yes!" answered Gayle. So W.O. scooped a big spoon full of mac & cheese and ladeled it into Gayle's shirt pocket, patting it flat. "There, that should keep you," said W.O., testing the young man's reaction. Gayle laughed, and the prospective son-in-law passed the test.

1955: GER records: "Houston - l955, l956." Gayle found his canoe in Houston in either '55 or '56. Much later in life, this same canoe was put to good use on the Mokelumne River which runs through Lodi, CA. In Scottsdale, AZ, Gayle restored another Old Town canoe, a 17-foot Otca. In a letter to T. dated Sept 1995, Gayle tells the story of the canoe: "BJ bought an Old Town canoe for me while we were in Houston. It was a wreck. She purchased it from a painter who had taken it as partial payment for work he had done. He had never been in a canoe before, but launched a hunting/fishing expedition, taking his guns and fishing gear of course. He sadly told of leaving shore, getting out into deep-water current and capsizing. He lost all except the 'miserable canoe.' BJ gave him the fifty 1955 dollars he asked. We have since rebuilt it, enjoyed it immensely, and still have it. In fact, we refinished it this past summer and I must say it remains a thing of beauty and utility. ...I bought another Old Town while we lived in Phoenix and refinished it. We put an elaborate red, white and blue Indian Design paint job on it. It is stunning! I'm doing some gunwale work on it at the present." While in Loma Linda, CA, Gayle canoed occasionally at Lake Perris. Upon Gayle's death, his original canoe was given to his long-time friend Ron Christensen.

1956: GER records: "Tyler - l956-l958." Regarding the canoe, in a letter to B., Gayle notes that "BJ bought mine for me back in Houston in 1956." If so, it must have been early in '56, and other letters state it was purchased in '55. Also "The Green Chair" is purchased from the Houston Warwick Hotel this year.

1957. Regarding the 5-ring binder, it contained material dated from 1951-1957, and the cover page contained a drawing that provides some insight into Gayle's mindset at the time. He created a personal seal that incorporated his initials, the Texas state flag, an open book or Bible, the torch that often symbolizes education, and the same oakleaf that he painted on the bow and stern of his beloved canoe. This crest is the one featured on the CD version of Gayle's memorial website.

1958: GER records: "Nebraska - Enders - l958, l959." June 15, 1958, Donald marries Jean Schlunt at Pontiac, Michigan.

1959. Gayle's colleagues at PVA are: Vonhof, Weatherall, Anderson, Bascom. (Churches? Longview, Tyler, PVA). Gayle becomes close friends with his neighbor Don Weatherall, who taught phys ed classes. Weatherall had attended Keene with Gayle. While most faculty on the PVA campus did not have telephones in their houses as this time, Gayle and Don set up an WWII army surplus field telephone between their houses so they could talk. GER records of this time: "Shelton - 1959-1964 Platte Valley Academy." Note that DW indicates the Rhoads' summerschooling at Andrews began at PVA, year unknown.

1964. Gayle taught himself how to upholster antique chairs using period techniques and original materials. He taught himself by reading old upholstery books. Period upholstery involves using horsehair and tying coil springs with hemp string in intricate patterns. It's a time-consuming process, and largely a forgotten art form, but once completed, will last for lifetimes. Also, it restores antiques to "original" forms. Period upholstery is a rare skill in today's world of flat springs and foam rubber. Here's a photo of Gayle working on a chair while still at PVA, early in 1964. In Lodi, they live at 1224 S. Central Avenue. That house has been moved several yards to the north (to accommodate the new South Central entrance to LLA) but is still standing.

1965. This photo snapped at a family reunion. Gayle's father-in-law W.O. Lenz marries Mercedes England this year.

1966. Voth replaces Vernon Koenig, who becomes Superintendant of Schools and teaches education at Loma Linda University. GER has "M.A." after his name in the '66 annual. Some of the faculty members that lived on campus in the mid-60s included: the Voth family (Harvey is principal; Norma Jean, children Dan, Dianne & David); the Dawes family (Don teaches shop, Marion teaches PE, children Doni, Marc, later Kami & Todd); the Winn family (Hugh teaches music, Laura was the school's librarian, children Denise & Deanna); the Hottal family (Jim teaches history & PE, Anne, children Jan & Rusty); the Kaiser family, (Vernon teaches math, wife?, children X, Lynnie & Candy); the Goltz family (Willy teaches physical education, wife? children X & X); the Blue family (Ray teaches chemistry, wife?) An incomplete list of other colleagues and friends from the early Lodi years included: the Purdy family (Duane was the school's business manager, children Don, X & Louise) the Ackerman family (Joyce was the principal's assistant, Ken, children Craig & Gary) the Day family; (Ken taught history; Marie taught English); the Lind family (from the Lodi Central cum English Oaks church, Bob & Paula, children Kellie, Kim & Kendall). 1966 is also the year that Gayle's father James retires from his last pastorate at the Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University in Michigan.

1967. Gayle's sister-in-law, Darleen V. J. Lenz (Turnbull), dies this year.

1969. This is the year that Hugh Winn joins the Lodi Academy family as the music teacher, and will eventually become the school's vice-principal. Hugh becomes a close friend and trusted colleague of Gayle's.

1971. While at MBA, GER develops a strong allergic reaction to dairy products that gradually dissipates over time. Also during this time, Gayle leads an arduous backpacking trip for some of the MBA dorm students. The hike is a day-long trip down into a deep ravine. At the bottom Gayle discovers a heavy 30 lb iron chain and takes a liking to it. Everyone else is trying to figure out ways to lighten their packs for the uphill trek, but Gayle adds the chain to his already laden pack as ballast and hauls it out.

1972. The family lives on the campus at 1318 S. Central Avenue. A photo of the house that's likely from the early 1980s.

1975. Although the slides are dated November 1975, it's possible the photo was actually taken earlier. The bright sun with long shadows does allow a fall shot.

1976. The summer also includes a visit to W.O. Lenz in Phoenix, AZ, during which the outstanding "self-timer" photo is taken of the family. 1976 is also the year that Gayle subscribes to a new magazine, "Fine Woodworking." He has every issue of that magazine from the first to the most current.

1977. Alys Bacic, a family friend in Lodi, dies this year.

1978. The current crop of faculty members at Lodi Academy includes: Frank Dietrich, Joyce Ackerman, David Gifford, Wallace Brandmeyer, Harold Crook, Kenneth & Marie Day, Robert "Tico" Hernandez, BJ & Gayle Rhoads, Diana Sochor, Eileen Kurtz, Harry & Janet Olson, Richard Stewart, Duane Purdey, Hugh & Laura Winn. Over the next few years, some will leave and some will join: Bill Hammack, Elaine Neudeck, Calvin Unterseher, & Chris Barker.

1979. Gayle's commitment to the value of "Service Above Self" was remarkable and sometimes startling. An event from the 1990s illustrates the point. Gayle spotted a motorcyclist who had broken down on the 215 freeway near his house. He stopped, loaded the motorcycle and passenger into his pickup, and drove home. The cyclist, distraught and broke, was in a hurry to get to Canada. So Gayle booked him on a flight to Canada (a gift, not a loan) and garaged his cycle until the man could return. Several days later Gayle was contacted by the Canadian police. Gayle's benefactor was actually a hunted felon that was desperate to get out of the States. The local police collected the motorcycle. See more on Flight 191 at: http://www.foxchicago.com/_ezpost/data/13514.shtml. This year, Brother Bert retires from his position as Archivist of the US.

1980. Tacy may have lived only 2 1/2 years, recalls BJR. If Tacey lived from 1980-1982 or 83, who is the poodle that shows up in a photo dated February, 1984? Likely it's Tacey.

1981. The geology trip date was July-August of 1981. The slides were mislabeled or developed years later (they claim Oct 93--was the imprinted '9' supposed to be an '8'?). Some slides in the set appear to be of Tacey, who may be wearing his 1981 dog tag.

1984: Stories two and three re: the Schoolmaster award.

1986: GER records: "Arizona - Scottsdale -1986-l988 Thunderbird Academy [7410 E] Sutton [Drive]." In 1986, Gayle adopts his second Old Town rib-and-plank canoe, an Otca with a custom high bow and stern. He fibreglasses it. The fibreglass takes years to dry.

1988. On February 13, Gayle's father, James Harrison Rhoads, born September 12, 1901, dies at 86. He is buried in Bloomington Indiana at the Simpson Chapel Cemetery.

1992. On April 13, Gayle's mother, Mary Keenan Rhoads, born July 30, 1902, dies a few months shy of her 90th birthday. She is buried next to her husband in Bloomington, Indiana.

1995. Gayle writes of the canoe restoration project in progress in a letter dated Sept 1995. It appears that Gayle's first word-processed documents date from September 1995--his correspondence from the previous decades is mostly in longhand, since he had relied on secretaries for typing as a school principal. So Gayle teaches himself to type once again.

1996. In a letter to a friend, Gayle reported that on the first day of this school year (that is, the year that Gayle was supposed to have retired): "as BJ and I got into the car to go to the first faculty meeting of the year, she looked over at me and said, 'And this is the day you were supposed to stay home and clean the house!' It's a shame to disappoint her."

1997. In 1997 Gayle travels to Canada with 32 of his students. Gayle serves CAP squadron 31 & Group 18. As Deputy Wing Chaplain, he reports to Lt. Col. Chaplain Leslie Wheeler. He remains active in CAP through July 1999. Regarding Gayle's discovery of email, this is both a good and a bad thing. Good, in that he was able to correspond freely. Bad, in that BJ thought he spent too much time typing at the computer. Also bad, from the perspective that due to the nature of email, most of these communications are lost to time. Even when the program saved copies of sent emails, the old email programs and the computers they ran on are no longer available to read the files. (In the same fashion, much of the original data from the Viking space probes was lost.)

2003. Gayle liked to quote Psalm 90:12 -- "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." From Thursday, February 19, 1931 to Monday, April 28, 2003 was 26,366 days.

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Christmas 2004

Names: Gayle E. Rhoads, Gayle Rhoads, Gayle Elwood Rhoads, G. E. Rhoads, GE Rhoads, G.E. Rhoads, G. Rhoads, Principal Rhoads, Doctor Rhoads, Elder Rhoads, Pastor Rhoads, GER, G.E.R. Common misspellings: Gail, Gaile, Gayl, Gale, Rhodes, Rodes, Roads. Family: James Harrison Rhoads, Mary Agnes Rose Keenan Rhoads, Donald Harrison Rhoads, James Berton Rhoads, Bette Jewell Lenz Rhoads, William O. Lenz, W. O. Lenz. Places: SWJC, Southwest Junior College, Keene, Texas. Brazos River. Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska. La Sierra University, La Sierra, California. Cleburne, Texas. Platte Valley Academy, Nebraska. Lodi Academy, Lodi, California. Thunderbird Academy, Scottsdale, Arizona. Loma Linda Academy, Loma Linda, California. 1931-2003.