In Memoriam: Bill Rhodes '76

The Rev. Canon William Chester Rhodes, Class of 1976, died suddenly at his home in Phoenix, Arizona, on September 2, 2015. He was 67 years old. Mentor, pastor, and teacher, 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, to John F. Rhodes, M.D., and Janis Aileen (Gilfillan) Rhodes, both of whom predeceased him. Rhodes is survived by his only sibling, John F. Rhodes Jr., of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1977 in Larchmont, New York, by Bishop Harold Wright.

Rhodes served as a curate in parishes in Larchmont and Mt. Kisco, New York, 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 that he presided over the funerals of 328 parishioners who died from AIDS, an event he described as "horrific."

Upon leaving San Francisco, Rhodes then served as rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Phoenix, from 1999 to 2003. After retiring, he served as assistant priest at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral from April 2013 until his death.

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, 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 were held on September 18 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedra in Phoenix. Please visit for condolences.