William Chester Rhodes
1948 - 2015
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Rhodes, William Chester
The Rev. Canon William Chester Rhodes of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona died suddenly at his home in Phoenix on Sept. 2, 2015. He was 67. Mentor, pastor, and teacher, Fr. Rhodes is remembered for having exemplified a spiritual depth and honesty about God that touched the lives of everyone who knew him. He was born January 1948 in Philadelphia, Pa., to John F. Rhodes, M.D., and Janis Aileen (Gilfillan) Rhodes, both of whom are deceased. Fr. Rhodes is survived by his only sibling, John F. Rhodes Jr., of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Fr. Rhodes graduated from General Theological Seminary in New York 1976. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1977 in Larchmont, N.Y. by Bishop Harold Wright. He served as a curate in parishes in Larchmont and Mt. Kisco, N.Y., until 1982, when he moved to San Francisco to become rector of Church of the Advent of Christ the King. He served at Christ the King until 1999. It was there, in San Francisco, that he ministered with great compassion and pastoral care to the needs of a congregation devastated by HIV/AIDS. During a decade, he said in a 2014 sermon, he presided over the funerals of 328 parishioners who died from AIDS, an event he described as "horrific." Upon leaving San Francisco, Fr. Rhodes then served as rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Phoenix, AZ, from 1999 to 2003. After retiring, he served as assistant priest at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral from April 2013 until his death. Fr. Rhodes exemplified the servant-leader of the church, living out his faith daily with humility, love, compassion, gentleness, and kindness. He is remembered especially for his insightful sermons and his playful sense of humor. He had a smile for everyone. In the clergy, Fr. Rhodes was an advocate of deacons, a member of the faculty in the deacon formation program at the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, as well as a mentor to many. He was admired throughout his career for the gift of knowing when and how to provide pastoral words or prayerful quiet at just the right time. He will be greatly missed but lives on in the hearts of all who knew him. "Well done, good and faithful servant: enter into the joy of your Master's household." Services for The Rev. Canon William Chester Rhodes will be at 11:00 a.m. Friday, September 18, 2015 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 100 West Roosevelt Street, Phoenix, AZ 85003. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 6502 N. 39th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85019 or any charity of your own choice. Please visit www.hansenmortuary.com for condolences.

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Published in The Arizona Republic on Sep. 13, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
July 17, 2020
He was my mom's cousin. As a little girl I had the biggest crush on him and wanted to marry him. Lol! He always treated me with love and gave the best birthday presents!! We lost touch many years ago, but I heard he had passed away.
Ann strunk
September 27, 2015
Bill as a sophomore
SO many wonderful memories of you "Billie". We missed you when you left LHS. You had a very full life and have touched innumerable souls on your path to GOD. My sincerest condolences to all who loved you and will miss you.
Melanie (Kistler) del Prete
September 19, 2015
Fr. Bill, thanks for sharing your wisdom, compassion, and humor and for being a mentor. Your presence has been a gift. You are dearly missed.
September 15, 2015
Bill was my best friend when we were kids growing up in Lehighton, Pa. We spent many Friday evenings at dances run by his mother at All Saints Church there and weekends roaming the expanses of his parents' farm, building a tree house, and ice skating. We both learned to fly at the same airport. But as is inevitable, life moved on and we went our separate ways, losing contact. I always remembered him as my good friend and the good fortune we had to grow up as and where we did. While I am saddened by his death I am grateful to learn of the rich, fulfilling life he led as one of God's servants.
May he rest in peace.
Serge Grynkewich
September 14, 2015
Thank you father Bill for being such a gem to so many. You will be missed! Until we meet again. RIP
Kelly Fillmore
September 14, 2015
Another thing that I forgot Father Bill would always ask how Roy and Barb are doing
Chuck Jared
September 14, 2015
In 2008 my mom was in the hospital on April 1,2008 I got a message on my cellphone that she had called for the priest. I went to see her and she told that her three favorite priests at St.Mary's were Father Long,Father DeRijk and Father Bill. He was a special person. One time I was volunteering at the Phoenix Mustangs there was a game on a Sunday kids from St.Mary's were at the game and so was Father Bill. Also Father Bill was the last person to own a 1980 Cadillac which had belonged to my mom.
Chuck Jared
September 13, 2015
I was the Sunday School Director when Father Bill came to St. Mary's in 1999. We worked very closely for the children who came to St. Mary's. One of the first trips to take children to Chapel Rock (church camp) after he came, I invited him to go. On the drive back to Phx., after talking for awhile, I just had this feeling that Father Bill was meant to be in my life. I told him that, and he took me very seriously. He was a big influence on my daughter, who was 13 at the time, and my son who was 9. By the time my daughter was 15, he had her doing sermons at St. Mary's. He even influenced their Dad, Jeff. He eventually talked Jeff into being on the Vestry, which was a major feat. In about 2007, children of Sudanese refugees began coming to St. Mary's. Father Bill welcomed them with open arms. He went on field trips, helped us raise funds, and many other supportive things. Father Bill retired in 2010 due to health. Everyone was very sad to see him leave. He came back and visited quite often, and I was able to meet him for lunch sometimes. In 2012, my Jeff was dying at the hospital. We called family, our current priest, and Father Bill. He came soon after. That night I woke at about 4 AM in Jeff's room, looked up, and there was Father Bill. He had come to check on my daughter and I. He and I spent an hour talking about taking Jeff off life support, the religious aspects, and so much more. Father Bill came back the next day while the doctors had the life support taken off. Jeff flat-lined right away. Father Bill did last rites. I know that he definitely was meant to be part of my life. I love him and miss him very much. He helped me get through some difficult times in my life. Thank you, my friend. You are forever in my thoughts and prayers.
Lynn Boddy
September 13, 2015
Through personal illnesses, deaths in our families, career changes, facilitating our marriage, and just purely wanting someone to share some time and laughter with, for well over a decade Father Bill was never further than a phone call away for us. Until the three of us are together again to linger over a Sunday brunch, we are profoundly missing our treasured friend. Robb Barr & Paul Valenzuela
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