GASTONIA — Larry I. Rhodes, 88, passed away July 13, 2021, at Covenant Village. He was born March 17, 1933, in High Point, NC, a son of the late James Ellington and Violet Gann Rhodes.
Larry was a loving husband, a devoted father, a proud grandfather, and a respected teacher and coach to many. He was a long-time and active member of First Baptist Church, where he was a deacon and also served on numerous committees.
Coach Rhodes completed his undergraduate degree at East Carolina College and received a master’s degree at A&T College. Coach Rhodes was head basketball coach, in addition to being an assistant football coach and head golf coach, at old Ashley High School and Ashbrook High School.
He was named the NC 4A Coach of the Year in 1968 and the following year coached the winning West team in the NC East/West All-Star Basketball Game. Coach Rhodes was inducted into the Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame in 1979. The Ashbrook Gymnasium was named in honor of him in 2004. In 2012, he was inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame. He was presented with the Rotary Paul Harris Fellow in 2013. Coach Rhodes was also honored in 2019 with the MLK Unity Award.
When he was not helping shape the lives of many players and students, Coach Rhodes’ greatest joy was spending time with his family and traveling. He loved to work in the yard, play golf, watch the Atlanta Braves and anytime he could spend with his grandson, Ryan, whether talking about life in general or taking him around the USA.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Frances Fitts Rhodes; daughter, Sharon Kay Rhodes; daughter and son-in-law, Susan Rhodes Carson and husband Tom; and grandson, Ryan Rhodes Carson, all of Gastonia. He was preceded in death by his sister, Ramona Harris.
The family will receive friends from 3:30 to 5:45 p.m. today at First Baptist Church. A service celebrating Coach Rhodes’ life will follow at 6 p.m., with Rev. Steven Fuller officiating. A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Gaston Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, 2650, Union Road, Gastonia, N.C. 28054.
Condolence messages may be sent online at mcleanfuneral.com. McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the Rhodes family.