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.
And God Bless.
My condolences on the loss of your good friend. A finer eulogy, no man could ever hope for.
You must have been a worthy child of God.
How I love the religious heritage of America. The understanding, the vision, and the faith that are behind those simple words from the church bulletin speak volumes about a people who whose lives were simply too big to contain.
Where they were met by oppression in the lands of their origin they sought freedom. That freedom has been passed to us to use in whatever way may please us.
Another generation labors on, in seemingly small ways, to build living monuments within their daily lives; monuments that honor a God who cannot be contained; a God who frees his spirit within his mortal children and gives them the freedom to honor that spirit, or not, in whatever way they choose.
I wish the people of the world could see that America is defined, not by headlines, but by it's people; people in cities and in hamlets; people working in jobs that are great or small; people living lives that are monuments; people whose spirit simply cannot be contained.
My sincere condolences to you and all who were close to Dusty Rhodes of Highlands, North Carolina.
I've only known a very few men that could fit his style and they were wonderful too.
Thank you for your time and memories, Sir.
I appreciate vignettes like this, about authentic Americans. Must say, though, at first I thought it was about the dratted pinch-hitter for the NY Giants who cost the Indians the 1954 World Series.
You made him sound wonderful. I wish I had known him.
As you point out, they are not somber occasions of despair, bereft of hope - although, naturally, there is present some sadness of parting. Rather, the reality is a genuine peace and comfort for the family and friends. Those who know the Lord only expect separation from their loved one for a short time, and then a joyful reunion in Heaven. They are celebrations of a life of love and the recognition of a mere passing on to another, more wonderful phase and one which shall be shortly joined.
Great eulogy, John. You are right in saying the strength of this people lies in the persons of those like Dusty Rhodes - not in recognition of fame, money, power or the fleeting things of this world. It lies in the faithful lives of "little" men and women like him who dwell all over this great and blessed land living out lives of faith, service and love.
1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Condolences to Dusty's Family and Friends.
Seems almost every Rhodes family has a Dusty. Besides this Gentleman and Dusty Rhodes the Wrestler, There was a Country Music Family on the Air in Memphis Tenn, back in the Fifties with a Dusty.
Great article, John.
Yes, we are over here also. As the temperature goes down tonight it will get even worse. I suspect you are set for a few days of isolation. You'll probably get it!
My condolences and prayers.. he sounds like he was a fine fellow and someone I would have been proud to know.
"And the dead in Christ shall rise FIRST!"
Never met the man, but that doesn't lessen my interest. He sounds like the sort of man I'd like to, but probably never, be. Thanks for posting.
Dusty Rhodes, the wrestler, real name is Virgil Runnels.
That's what I thought.
No, this isn't the same wrestler we are thinking about. This is just a regular guy. I heard the wrestler Dusty Rhodes is aged and started some sort of business years ago.
Is this the same Dusty working as a Sergeant At Arms in the state House?