Byron Merrill Rhodes, 78, of Marshalltown, IA, formerly of Zearing and Conrad, was called home to be
with his Lord, Jesus Christ on Wednesday, November 25th at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames,
surrounded by his loving wife and family. Funeral services will be at 1:30pm on Thursday, December 3,
2020 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Marshalltown. Visitation will be from 1:00 to 7:00 pm on
Wednesday, December 2, with the family present from 4:00-7:00pm, at Anderson Funeral Homes in
Marshalltown. Interment will be at the Conrad Cemetery. The family requests masks be worn for both
the visitation and funeral services. The funeral service will be live streamed at Anderson Funeral Homes
Facebook page. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Byron Rhodes Memorial Fund.
Byron was born March 7, 1942 to Merrill and Doris (Bowlin) Rhodes in Marshalltown. He attended grade
school in St. Anthony and graduated from Zearing High School in 1960, often riding his horse two miles a
day to catch the school bus to ensure he could play baseball and basketball in the Zearing school district.
He then attended junior college at Ellsworth where he played basketball and baseball, with his team
making it to the 1962 junior college World Series. He was inducted into the Ellsworth College Hall of
Fame in 2008.
While at Ellsworth, he met his partner for life, Sandra Knavel, and they married on June 2, 1963. Byron
attended Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, and with a little help from Sandy, he graduated in 1964
with a BA in Education. His first teaching job landed him at Starmont School District for two years before
moving to Conrad in 1966. He taught junior high science and high school biology until 1980, when he left
teaching for farming. With teaching came his true passion -- coaching. He coached high school baseball
and high school boys and girls basketball. His love for the game of baseball endured for 20 years on the
field and a lifetime off the field. Never will we fully understand the impact he had on so many young
lives. He started and coached the Conrad/Union Post Legion Baseball team as well as Marshalltown
Community College baseball during his career. His career high school baseball wins were nearly 400. He
was a charter member of the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association, later serving as President
in 1982. He was inducted into the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1985.
The Beaman Baseball Field was dedicated to Byron on May 30, 1976.
He began farming with his Dad in 1980, moving to Zearing in 1997, and lived there for 16 years before
retiring to Marshalltown in 2013. Byron's love of farming, nature, and hunting created stories and
memories that will be shared by many for generations to come. Byron and Sandy were long time
members of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Marshalltown. They shared their love for sports through their
children's and grandchildren's sporting events. They enjoyed watching and analyzing college basketball
and football and professional baseball. Byron knew how blessed he was by the love of family and
friends, and he felt great pride for his children, grandchildren, and his first great-grandchild.
Byron will forever be cherished by his wife, his three children, Brett Rhodes, of Des Moines, IA, Blake
(Paige) Rhodes of Greenwood Village, CO and Shauna (Chad) Callaway of Conrad, IA; nine grandchildren,
Zach (Ellen) Rhodes, Alyssa (David) Akre, Max (Maddie) Callaway, Ty Rhodes, Maddie Rhodes, Liv
Callaway, Clay Rhodes, Joe Rhodes, and Gus Callaway; one great-grandchild, Crew Callaway; and sister,
DeAnna (Bob) Overman, niece Lynette (Mike) Wineland, and nephew Chad (Terri Davis) Overman.
Byron was preceded in death by his parents, Merrill and Doris, and his sister Marla Rhodes.
A celebration of his life will be held this summer at his beloved St. Anthony farm where all will be
welcome to share stories and memories of a life well lived.
Coach Rhodes has been called safe at home by the Great Umpire above. Remember, as Coach said:
"The home run sign is always on.
"I was saddened to read of the passing of Coach Rhodes. I always looked forward to competing against his teams as they were so well coached and prepared. I know my teammates and I had a great deal of respect and admiration for BCL teams and specifically Coach Rhodes. I always thought it was quite fitting that the ball field was named after him as he loved the community, field and the game. Being from a nearby community we always knew BCL would give us a tough game and it would be a fight until the last out. It has been enlightening to read the many tributes and see what this great man meant to his school district, community, students and athletes. To his family and friends I express my sincerest condolences on his passing, may he rest in eternal peace. "
"Dear Sandy and family,
Kent and I were so sorry to hear of Byron?s passing. He was a wonderful, kind man. We enjoyed spending time with you all at the farm. Byron was a special person. He will be missed by so many people.
Karen and Kent Adams"
"Sincere sympathy to the entire extended family of Byron. He was such an addition to any group that his memory will be shared by many. My father thought he was the greatest and he was right. May all of you take care of yourselves as you adjust to this loss. He is at peace now. "
"My condolences on the passing of Coach Rhodes. It is a great loss to your family, and a loss to the community. Byron poured his life into so Many of ours over the years. His demeanor and thoughtful ways instilled confidence into those who played on his teams. It was only later that I realized how many life lessons that I picked up while having Coach Rhodes in my life. I will mourn this loss and remember the impacts that Byron had on my life.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time."
"One of the best people there ever was. No way to thank him for all that he did for me. So many great memories!"
"I have already written a lengthy letter to the family, but I feel I would be amiss if I didn't post here, also. How does one properly thank a mentor who has brought so much into my life? Reading the tributes to Coach has been astounding. Byron was impactful to so many people as replies have come from former students, coaching foes, church family, hunting friends, people who had the privilege to meet Coach along our path, and of course----we former athletes. He was my coach from third grade through high school, teacher, mentor, friend for life, and a person who taught us how 'men' treat people.
There are too many stories to tell, but I believe he is already running the 'suicide squeeze' to perfection with God as his first base coach, and he has probably already told Doug Smith to quit playing golf during baseball season!"
"Lovely gentlemen that graced us all with the gleam in his smile!! Prayers are with you all.. "
"I heard today of Byron's passing and want to pass on my sincerest sympathy to the family. My father, Wendell Mills was Merrill Rhodes cousin so I would be Byron's cousin of sort. The Mills and Rhodes families have always had a deep connection, and I grieve with you over the loss. Sincerely, Jean Kohler, Little Rock, AR"
"Deepest sympathies to the Rhodes family. Coach was a great man, teacher and coach. He will truly be missed by all that knew him. Can't begin to list all the ways he taught us all to be better players and more importantly better people. Will always remember the backyard badminton games as well! Thoughts and prayers to all. RIP Coach!"
"I was deeply saddened to hear of Byron's passing. I coached baseball for Dysart-Geneseo from 1973-1980 and had many a showdown against an always strong and well coached BCL team. Byron always had such positive things to say and always was willing to share his expertise with me. We shared conference titles and each won our share, but always exciting to face his teams. I would keep up on Byron through our many coaching friends at BCL. Byron was a true friend and respected gentleman. Please accept my deepest sympathy. Rex & Judy Raub Dysart "
"My deepest sympathies to Sandy and the Rhodes family. I was so sad to hear this news. Byron was a wonderful friend and neighbor to my dad Ralph Ward all of these years. They shared so many great times together. I always enjoyed visiting with him during my visits from AZ. I know he will be missed by many. Thinking of you Sandy during this difficult time.
Vicky Ward Rinehart"
"My thoughts and prayers are with you all! Byron was an amazing basketball coach and I learned a lot from him. He always said, just because your short doesn't mean you can't make yourself seen!. What a kind soul and I know he will be missed by many.
Rachel (Rash) Ritchhart"
"My deepest sympathy to the Rhodes family. Byron was a very supportive fan at WG baseball games the last 4 years. I was very honored to chat with him after each game as I respected his opinions and view points more than he knew. He will be greatly missed and I know Brett and the boys were very proud of Byron! - Eric, Jamie, Jovie and Jaxie Evans"
"My sincere sympathy to the family. He was an inspiring man and will be missed by so many who knew him as a teacher and farmer at heart."
"My head (and heart) dropped when I heard the news of Byron's passing. I've carried the lessons he taught me as a coach and teacher throughout my life and used his philosophy during my years coaching high school volleyball and a short stint coaching baseball. I was assistant baseball coach a few years ago at BCLUW (as a fill in) and was coaching the JV in a game against Grundy Center. We ran the bases like gazelles and the GC coach came up to me afterwords and asked "did you happen to play for Byron Rhodes?" I answered "Yes" he replied "I haven't seen a team run like that since Byron coached" It was an honor to be compared to such a legend. You will be greatly missed Byron. "Is this Iowa?.....No Byron, it's Heaven"
Class of 1982"
"What an honor and a privilege to have been coached and taught by Mr. Rhodes. His passion for baseball and teaching was deeply inspiring. It is fitting that the last time I saw him he was coaching - basketball this time - and imparting that deep wisdom into yet another generation of student athletes. A gifted and thoroughly decent man.
Steve Neff (BCL Class of '79)
"Coach Rhodes used to scare me to death! I was so intimidated by him growing up. =) However, that feeling grew into a great deal of respect and honor.
To all his family - May God keep you, may His light shine upon you and give you peace.
Lana (BCL class of 1986)"
"Sandy & Family, So sorry to hear of Byron's passing. Veda Lay Dufloth Johnson"
"To the family of Byron Rhodes, I am so sorry for the loss of your brother, husband, grandfather, great grandfather and one of the best friends a person could have. I lost touch with Bryon over time, but when i did see him it was always a pleasure to talk to him. When i was younger, he lived two houses south of us on the road to St. Anthony. Remember going up to visit his parents and sisters and Marla Kay let me ride with her on one of the horses. Scaring the daylights out of me. Byron was always so compassionate when my parents died. He will be truly missed by everyone who knew him. May eternal light shine upon him as he is with his parents, sister, grandparents up with in heaven with his Lord and Savior. From Marcella Robinson Betts Des Moines, Iowa "
"My heart skipped a beat when I came across the news of Byron?s passing. As an athlete at North Tama I first saw Coach Rhodes?s passion and love of the game of baseball. After I was lucky enough to become a teacher and coach at BCLUW, I then saw his caring and compassionate personality on top of his complete knowledge of life and his unbelievable people skills. There was not a better mentor in the coaching profession in the entire state of Iowa. A great indication of success of ones? life is in one?s children - in Byron and Sandy?s case - Brett, Blake and Shauna all share the love of their parents and could not have turned out any more successful in every aspect of life. They are a tribute to their mother and father. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire family during these tough times. May the multitude of numerous loving memories supply strength to all of you.
Jed, Lisa, Lincoln and Morgan Vorba
"My deepest sympathies to the Rhodes family. Words cannot express the respect I have for coach. Like many of us we created a lot of memories. Coach taught us more than baseball and for that I am deeply grateful."
"Please accept our sincere condolences, Rhodes family, and all those who knew and loved Byron. He was a wonderful man, and I am glad to have known him. I will always remember his warm smile, his kindness, and his love for the game of baseball. He was truly a joy to be around. You are all in our thoughts and prayers."
"My condolences to Sandy and all of the Rhodes family. I have a lot of fond memories of coach Rhodes as a coach and a teacher. Some of his sayings I used when I coached my daughters ASA softball team. "If the ball touches your glove catch it." Don't complain about a call third strike. "Close enough to call close enough to swing at." Also in science class during the World Series, he would have a World Series question on a science test. Loved it! He will be missed by everyone that knew him.
Paul Kock "
"Sandy and family... My sincere condolences to you all. I always liked Byron in school as a science teacher, but I really enjoyed visiting with him these last few years when he would come into the USDA office. We would chat everytime he came in. I was so sad when he told me about his illness. One thing I will never forget him telling me.. "Live every day like it's your last". What a great man. I will miss seeing him at the office.
Sue Kibby Eggena
Class of '75"
"What a kind, wonderful man/teacher/coach Byron was. Truly one of my favorite teachers. He touched so many lives in such a positive way. He will be greatly missed. Hugs to you all. "
"Sandy and family,
Your husband, father and grandpa was a great man and mentor to a large number of us, He pushed a lot of us to excel during high school that helped guide us in life after school, I was very sadden to hear of his passing. I will always have very fond memories of Byron. One that stands out and might bring a little smile to your family during this time of sadness happened in science class way back in the 70's. Byron caught a young man trying to catch up on his sleep in the back of the class, Bryon knowing his arm to be an asset picked up a chalk board eraser and throw a hard fastball beaning this young man and creating a large chalk cloud around his head and turning his blond hair to snow flake white instantly. I don't believe this guy was ever caught sleeping in Bryon's science class ever again, nor the rest of us needless to say!
"Love and thoughts for all. Byron touched a lot of lives and will be remembered always."
"So sorry to hear of Byron passing. You have my sympathy. May God comfort each of you in this difficult time. "
"Byron was a truly nice guy and always had a smile on his face-I will miss stopping to chat with him when he was at his shed by Saint Anthony ??"
"Sandy, Brett, Blake & Shauna - my heart breaks for all of you. You all hold such a very special place in my heart and I have so many treasured memories of all our times together. Byron was an amazing person and while sad at our loss here on earth, it's comforting that we will see him again someday. Joni (Bristley) Preston"
"Dear Sandy & Family-Please accept my condolences over Coach's passing. I am heart-broken to learn about this. I was never a very good baseball player (through no fault of Coach, but he passed on other valuable lessons through his quiet manner. I was a member of Coach's 1st team at Beaman-Conrad. Coach became a good friend after I graduated HS. I hope that fond memories will help sustain you at this difficult time. Please know that he was well-respected as a coach and, better still, a person. God Bless, Jim Miller-Beaman-Conrad-1970"
"So sorry to hear about Byron's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Sandy, Deanna and families. His passing will be a great loss to all who knew him.
Mick and Judy Rhodes"
"I am so saddened to learn of Byron's passing. It was a joy to have him as a classmate and have many wonderful memories of his days at Zearing. He was so dedicated as a teacher and enjoyed listening to his stories when we had class reunions. He will truly be missed not only by family but a huge community of friends. God's peace and blessings to Sandy, Brett, Blake, Shauna and all the grandchildren.
Judy and Kip Farthing"
"I just learned of Byron's passing. I am so sorry to hear that. What a wonderful obituary . He was a very special person. I learned some things in his obituary that I never knew. Sending my love, sympathy and prayers to, Sandy, Deanna and all their families. I know he will be missed. I feel blessed to have known him and all the wonderful family he had. "
"Sandy and Family our hearts are saddened to learn of Bryon passing! Much love and prayers from your NC family Calvin & Vicky Dudley"
"Sandy and Family, So sorry to hear of Byron's passing. We have many fond memories of your family while attending services, and working with you at Redeemer. You are each in our thoughts and prayers.
Bruce & Marlene Terrillion"
"Sandy and family, so sorry to hear of Byron's passing. He will be remembered as a kind hearted gentleman that never passed by without a friendly conversation. Always enjoyed visiting with him about the many things we shared in common. We won't forget his time at St. John Lutheran in Hubbard. Byron was kind enough to share his love for baseball by helping us with youth camps for our boys, and even attended our boys games to lend his very keen eye to help them with their time playing Byron's favorite sport. Byron will be greatly missed.
Doug and Beth Quam"
"On behalf of the Ellsworth College Foundation, we extend our sincere condolences to the family of Bryon Rhodes. "
"I am so very sorry for your loss. So many wonderful memories of Byron and Sandy at our church and playing cards with my parents. I know my dad valued your friendship so very much, especially after mom was gone. I am sure mom and dad are having some laughs with Byron in heaven. Thoughts and prayers with you all. "
"To the Rhodes Family
Sorry to hear of coaches' passing. My son' s favorite passion was baseball. With all the practices and games of his that we attended, I often thought about how dedicated Byron was to the game and teaching his love for the game to his players. He was not only an excellent coach, but an excellent role model for young men. He will be missed by many.
With sincere sympathy,
Brian Valentine (Class of '82) "
"To Sandy and Family----I am saddened to here the news of Byron, Coach, Mr. Rhodes He has worn many hats through the years. Science teacher, Coach, mentor, friend, farmer to so many kids and adults including myself. To think of the many times over the years that we would cross paths, always with that smile that made him the person so many of us cared for so much. This is hard to sum up someone life in a few sentences. But with the greatest amount of respect we all will try. With a heart felt sympathy to Sandy and family "
"To Sandy and family---- Was so sad to hear that Coach had passed away.... He was so well respected as a Coach, teacher, husband, father and grandfather.... He was an inspiration and role model during the days as my Coach at Beaman-Conrad, my wife's Science teacher and still is. Coach passed on many lessons about sports and life to all that he touched... He will be missed tremendously by many past student-athletes but will be remembered also by everyone that ever had any interaction with him... Coach-- Thanks for all that you did !!!! RIP, and Play Ball !!! Mark/Donna Schleisman Class of '71"
"My deepest condolences to the entire Rhodes family. I had Byron as a teacher at BCL and thoroughly enjoyed him. I still laugh at some of his pop quiz questions in Science class. Byron used to go deer hunting with my dad and many of their friends in Conrad and they had many great stories to share! What a genuine person he was who touched many lives. He will be fondly remembered by many students through his teaching and coaching as well as his friendship more than he could ever imagine. What a wonderful man! Rest In Peace Byron!
LeAnn Grimes Wolter-Kelly
Class of ?75"
"My deepest condolences to the Rhodes family. Byron was an awesome teacher and an amazing coach! I was lucky enough to be a chart girl for baseball and I have so many great memories of him. He was a legend! I will keep you all in my prayers. Margi McCombs Renihan"
"Our hearts break for the whole Rhodes Family. You are in our thoughts and prayers at this very sad time. Byron was Jack's favorite coach in and out of high school. He will be missed by many of his athletes and students, he touched a lot of lives in such a great way!
Jack & Danice Zern"