Skip to comments.Dusty Rhodes, A Death in the Family
Posted on 01/28/2005 6:39:57 PM PST by Congressman Billybob
With great sorrow, but also with great joy, I attended the funeral this week of Dusty Rhodes in Highlands, North Carolina.
Dusty was born in Georgia, but was working in the coal fields of western Kentucky when World War II broke out. He went into the service, did his duty. After the war, his new skills earned him a job with the telephone company. One of his first assignments brought him to Highlands, to install the new rotary phone service. There were several young women who handled all the calls on this small, operator-driven system. Dustys efforts put them out of work. One of them was Manila Reese.
Dusty and Manila met, took a shine to each other, and got married. They settled down to raise a family. They built the small building to house Rhodes Superette, which has provided a good living to three generations of that family. But there is much, much more to the extraordinary life of this gentle man as Pastor Robinson called him at the services at the First Baptist Church.
Dusty was a lay preacher at his Church. He taught Sunday School. More than that, he lived his faith every day of the week. I knew Dusty personally for 56 years. I never heard him say a harsh word about anyone else. I never heard anyone else say that THEY heard Dusty say a harsh word. He was, as I said to his children, Kitty and Dusty, Jr., family to all of us.
One in five of all the residents of this small town were crowded into the Church for the services. Had the services waited until school was over for the day, attendance would have been far higher. This was a man who was a kind and thoughtful friend to everyone he ever met, with no exceptions.
Ill tell two stories I know about him that describe this man, and that were not in his obituary nor in the eulogies delivered at the service.
The first is highly personal. When my son died at college, 14 years ago, Dusty showed up at my mothers house in Highlands with a platter of food. No one had called him. He just heard, as he heard everything in this town, that we had a family tragedy, and he responded as Southerners often do, with the sacrament of food.
The second story happened many times. Rhodes Superette always closed fairly early at night, so the family could go home for their suppers together. It was, of course, closed on Sundays, though much business was lost by that choice. Though his business wasnt open at night, the tourists who come to Highlands in three seasons of the year could still count on him.
People coming up from Atlanta drive right by the Superette. Those whod met Dusty could call him and say what they needed when they arrived late Friday. The groceries would be bagged and labeled, sitting behind the store. Folks could pick them up on the way into town, and come by to pay later in the weekend, or have the price put on their tab. (Yes, the Superette is an old-fashioned type of store, where next to the cash register is a flip-file with customer cards in it. The total of your purchase goes on the ledger, and you sign for it.)
Why did I use the word joy concerning the services for Dusty? Because that was his nature. The title for the Church bulletin for him is, Homegoing Celebration for Dusty Rhodes. Because of his deep faith, which he lived out every day, he was a joyful man. And he passed on that joy as best he could to everyone who crossed his path. No matter who you were, regardless of age, occupation, race, creed, color, or national origin.
Pastor Robinson preached up a storm about that very aspect. He read the three references in the New Testament to Barnabas, whose name means he who encourages. And he said that those passages applied every bit to this fine man who was a mainstay of this community from when he chose to marry and settle down here, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
There is a passage I ran across before Dusty died. I cannot imagine a better epitaph for a man who will live on in the hearts and minds of thousands of people of all ages and walks of life, who had the privilege of knowing him.
The best portion of a good man's life is the little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. --William Wordsworth
About the Author: John Armor is a First Amendment attorney and author who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. CongressmanBillybob@earthlink.net
John / Billybob
Dusty Rhodes died!!!???? I had no idea :(
Sorry for the loss of your friend. This lovely tribute says a lot about him AND you.
Our local oldies DJ goes by the name "Dusty Rhodes."
John, thanks for your touching tribute to a wonderful human being.
My God be with you and Dusty's family, now and forever.
That being said, I offer my condolences to you Congressman on the loss of your dear friend. May he Rest in Peace.
Sorry about your friend Congressman
My mistake. I meant no disrespect.
RIP to your friend, Congressman. His kind is becoming scarce.
I never spoke with him, but I recall reading some of his posts. One that stands out was his generous donation to FR during a long past FReepathon. He put the FReepathon over the top. God bless him and his family and friends he leaves behind.
Condolences to the family and friends. Sorry to hear of the loss of this good man.
I knew a 'Dusty Rhodes' as a kid too,, he just had a different name in my old hometown.
He ran a Cliff's Little Supermarket for 40 some years or so .. thru good times and bad, he was always there to help folks out in the community if he could.
Wordsworth: "You know, every act of kindness is a little bit of
love we leave behind."
Absolutely beautiful and touching. Thank you for your kind words for this dear man.
I wondered if this was our Dusty Rhodes, the ex wrestler. I just saw one of the commercials he does for a local car dealer this evening.
I remodeled a drug store in Highlands back in the seventies.
It took several days and every morning I would get to the job site a few minutes before the lady who ran the store.
Outside the store was a makeshift shelf and every morning there was a pile of change on the shelf. Curiosity got the best of me and I finally asked the owner why it was there.
She said locals would walk by in the morning and get a newspaper from the stack dropped off by truck and simply
leave the money on the shelf.
That was also back when land was cheap in those hills.
I lived in Charlotte at the time where no quarter was safe
just laying there.
Funny how we all know of one or two special people like your friend. They are the sweetness that makes life bearable.