Leon Irvin Rhodes, age 77, of Erwin, Tennessee said goodbye to his family that were gathered around him as he went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on Saturday, February 29, 2020. He was a native of West Alexandria, Ohio and a son of the late Lawrence Irvin Rhodes and Leona Belle Bailey Rhodes. Throughout his life he lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as Cambridge, Maryland where he met his loving wife, Jan, and had their first daughter, Letha. Next, they moved to Paris, Tennessee where they had their second daughter, Lila. The family then moved to DeLand, Florida. Leon and Jan moved to Unicoi County in 1997 to enjoy their retirement years in the home they built on their mountain farm in Flag Pond, Tennessee.
Mr. Rhodes graduated from Arizona State University with a BS Degree in Wildlife Biology. He retired from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service after thirty-three years of service. Leon worked at five different National Wildlife Refuges throughout his career. He was the Manager of Lake Woodruff Wildlife Refuge in DeLand, Florida.
He was a member of Ninth Street Baptist Church where he served as a Deacon. Leon served as a Royal Ambassadors Director. He loved teaching children about wildlife.
Leon was a member of The Laughter Society. He enjoyed woodworking, farming as a hobby and Pinewood Derby Racing. Leon was a Soap Box Derby car builder and coach. He loved his family dearly and spending time with all his grandchildren.
He leaves behind to cherish his memory, his loving and devoted wife of fifty-two years, Janice Gail Guinn Rhodes; two daughters: Letha Guinn Paulk (Dr. Darrell), Anniston, AL and Lila Dawn Womack (Scott), Marietta, GA; one brother, Larry Allen Rhodes (Joy), Santa Fe, TN; two sisters: Lora Elizabeth Hylton, Greenville, NC and Lana Jean Smith (Steve), Corydon, IN; eleven grandchildren: Brayden Thomas Paulk, Benjamin Levi Paulk, Samuel Deane Womack, Sadie Grace Womack, Jessica Lee Womack, Kayla Shea Womack, Isaiah Thomas Womack, Bryan Michael Womack, Kaydin, Kaysin, Lilly and over the years, he was a loving grandfather to eighteen foster grandchildren; several nieces and nephews also survive.
The family will receive friends from 4:00-6:00 PM on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at Ninth Street Baptist Church. Dr. Darrell Paulk, Reverend Carl Connelly and Brother Rick Babin will officiate at the 6:00 PM service. Music will be provided by Becky Manfull. Committal will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday in the Evergreen Cemetery. Family and friends will serve as active pallbearers. The Victory Sunday School Class will serve as honorary pallbearers. Everyone is asked to meet at the cemetery by 10:45 AM on Friday.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in memory of Leon to: Ninth Street Baptist Church, 310 Ninth Street, Erwin, TN 37650.
Online condolences, photos and memories may be shared with the Rhodes family through our complimentary, interactive Book of Memories at www.ledfordfuneralhomes.com
Robert Ledford Funeral Home, 720 Ohio Avenue, Erwin, is privileged to serve the Rhodes family. (423) 743-1380.