Henry Preston Rhodes, 69, returned to his heavenly home on June 3, 2017, after a short but valiant battle with cancer. His devotion to his family and his unshakeable faith in God’s ability to sustain and transform supported him in his struggle and ultimately gave him peace.
Preston was born to King Edward Rhodes Sr., now deceased, and Jennie Richardson Rhodes on Feb. 18, 1948. His was a solid Christian upbringing that led to a lifelong dedication to Christ and service to Brown’s Chapel A.M.E. Church in White Oak as a dynamic Sunday school teacher/superintendent and as class leader for Class No. 4 for more than 30 years. During his tenure in the church, he served on the steward and trustee boards and helped lead the effort to build a new sanctuary.
Preston graduated from Ralph J. Bunche High School in 1966 and later Albany State College (now University) with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education. Preston went on to earn a master’s degree in education at Florida A & M University in 1974 and an educational specialist degree in guidance and counseling at Florida State University in 1976.
He started his career as a classroom teacher at Woodbine Elementary School where he taught seventh grade for three years before moving on to a career as a guidance counselor at Camden County High School.
Later he served as guidance counselor at Jane Macon Middle School in the Glynn County schools several years before returning to Camden County High School to finish out his career before retirement. Throughout his life, it was not uncommon for him to come in contact with many former students who were grateful for the positive impact he made on their lives.
Continuing to answer the call for public service, Preston was elected county commissioner for District 1 on two different occasions. He served on the commission honorably, touching many lives by the decisions he made through God-given wisdom, strength and integrity. Among his many lasting achievements to the community are his contribution to the new Camden County Courthouse in Woodbine signified by the memorial plaque on the building side, the preservation and renovation of Ralph J. Bunche High School, the Tarboro Fire Station and the Mary B. Smart Park in the Tarboro community.
Preston was blessed with a large and loving family. He married his best friend, Linda Baker Rhodes, on June 22, 1985, and helped raise his two children, Daniel Preston and Jessica Lynne, with discipline and love. From the very beginning, he dedicated his children to God and encouraged them to continue their service to Christ and to the church.
Preston also leaves behind his devoted mother, Jennie R. Rhodes; a brother, Hubert Benjamin (Anna) Rhodes; and two sisters, the Rev. Janice Rhodes (the Rev. Darrell) Casey and Joyce Rhodes (Shawn) King — all who affectionately referred to him as “Sonny.”
One brother, King E. Rhodes Jr., preceded him in death.
Preston was equally devoted to his father-in-law, Clarence Baker, and mother-in-law, Beatrice, as well as his extended family, Carol Baker (Mark) Hayes and Harold Thorpe.
He leaves behind numerous loving nieces, nephews, and cousins as well as a church family that meant a great deal to him. He is especially mourned by his godson, Joshua Logan King, who will miss his “Uncle TT.”
His love and dedication to church, family and his community will be sorely missed.
A wake service will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 7, at Brunswick Funeral Home, 2700 Albany St. in Brunswick. The funeral service will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at Brown's Chapel A.M.E. Church, 334 New Post Road in White Oak.