Long-time instructor dies

Lee Rhodes (Courtesy of Tere Fluegeman/SOCCCD)

Memorial services were held for Dr. Lee W. Rhodes, a long-time Saddleback College instructor, trustee and vice president of the South Orange County Community College District board. He passed away on February 11, 2012.

Lee was the third of seven children born to Herman and Sadie Rhodes, and raised in Forks, Wash.

After graduating from Forks High School, Lee enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served honorably in WWII aboard a ship in the Mediterranean, and later served in the Korean War.

Following military service, Rhodes graduated from University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He completed advanced degrees in Colorado including a master’s degree in education and in later life, a doctorate in leadership and human behavior from the U.S. International University.

He was deeply committed to education, serving as an instructor of biology and microbiology at Saddleback College from 1969-88; former president of the Faculty Association; trustee from 1992-1996, and board vice president from 1995-1996. Recently, as a volunteer, he taught computer skills at the Laguna Beach Senior Center.

His colleagues have described him as a tremendous educator who was kind, bright, unique and generous.

As an elder of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Lee served as tribal historian. He was also an avid fine woodworker who enjoyed making toys and heirloom furniture for all of his grandchildren.

Lee is survived by his wife, Elizabeth (Betsy); his sister, Nadine; his stepchildren, Alison and son in-law Kevin Defrese, Duane Cromleigh, Heather and son-in-law, Bart D’Alfonso, and Cynthia and son-in-law, Marcus Crahan; and his adoring grandchildren, Patrick and Aidan Defrese, Catherine and Christine Crahan, and Cooper and Trevor Neilsen.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Oxfam America and Plan USA to support Lee and Betsy’s mission to provide food, shelter, and education for those less fortunate.

Services were held March 24 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Laguna Beach, Calif. 

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