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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

A life’s lesson for us all from a treasured mentor — get to it

Bob Rhodes personified the anti-2020. Relentlessly positive and upbeat, Rhodes dedicated his life to making those around him better and happier.

Though he passed away recently from a fall, I cannot imagine a more fitting person to emulate than Rhodes when we emerge from the grips of this most terrible year.

Rhodes was not a celebrity or high-profile politician. Outside a few select circles, he was not famous. But for those that had the pleasure of knowing him, he always seemed to occupy an outsized role in their lives.

I first met Rhodes as a junior in high school. He served as the local Kiwanis sponsor for my high school Key Club community service organization. A natural cheerleader for the Kiwanis family, Rhodes loved nothing more than working with teenagers. He saw each as a lifetime of possibility to come.

Originally involved to help my college education resume, Rhodes helped teach me about the rewards of hard work helping others. He showed up to service projects full of energy and enthusiasm, ready for any task.

Often his first task was to change the disposition of moody teenagers who would rather still be in bed on a Saturday morning. More often than not, he accomplished it with a terrible “Dad joke” – something along the lines of “I’ve got a great joke about construction, but I’m still working on it …”

When he finished, a great, radiant smile would emerge behind his white-bearded face. Usually it spread to the teens under his tutelage. And then our work would begin.

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