Former Dist. 300 principal remembered for support, steady leadership
Ronald Rhoades was the first principal of Dundee Highlands Elementary School in West Dundee when it opened in 1964 and he stayed to lead the school until he retired in 1982.
The longtime East Dundee man died Nov. 26 at 88. He was honored by the Community Unit District 300 board of education Monday with a moment of silence during the board meeting.
Rhoades spent 31 years in District 300, first as a teacher then as a principal. His entire career was in elementary education, where he made an impression on people as a kind, yet firm, leader who always listened to and supported the teachers he worked with.
Marilyn Mayer, of Sleepy Hollow, spent almost her entire career at Dundee Highlands Elementary School. Rhoades hired her with just one prior year of teaching experience in Wisconsin and then hired her back after she left on maternity leave.
"He was just a treasure," Mayer said.
Mayer taught for 35 years and worked for many different principals, always remembering Rhoades as one who got the best out of every teacher.
"I guess it's just like your first love," Mayer said. "Your first principal that made a difference — you never forget him. He was just a great leader."
Rhoades also took on leadership roles in the Dundee Lions Club, where he was a member for almost six decades, and Bethlehem Lutheran Church in West Dundee, where he served for many years as a church elder.
His wife, Jeanette Rhoades, said her husband was always very interested in helping each organization to which he contributed achieve its goals.
"He not only held offices, he put a lot of time and effort into everything he did," Rhoades said.
In retirement, Rhoades turned that energy toward gardening, exhibiting his roses and joining the Fox River Valley Rose Society. His reputation as "Mr. Rhoades," the principal, never left him though.
Jeanette said when she and her husband went grocery shopping she always lost him because parents would stop and share some accomplishment of his former students.
"He had a personal interest in each child," Jeanette said. "They knew he would be interested in what their children were doing. And he was."
Memorial services for Rhoades were held Saturday.
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