Hurcle Rhodes will be celebrating his 89th birthday Saturday June 18, 1994. He makes his home in the Center Ridge-Union Cross community. Born in the early part of the century, a son of the lae Mr. Wiley and Mrs. Luda Rhodes, Mr. Hurcle says "times were hard but they were good - it was a time when we worked hard from sunup to sundown, loved God, and loved each other.
He has an older brother, Edgar Rhodes, who is now 98 years old and a residentt of Lexington Manor, a sister, Mrs. Ethel Franklin who als lives in the Center Ridge-Union Cross Community and he had a yournger brother, Parker Rhodes, who is deceased.
On November 22, 1924 he married Pearl Franklin the 16 year old daughter of Mr. Will and Mrs. Ada Franklin. Mr. Hurcle said "It was love at first sight; she was the prettiest little red headed girl I ever say." They were happily married for 70 years. Their happiness was made complete when the Lord blessed them with a son, Lee Edmond on August 30, 1935. Mr. Hurcle said, "He was the prettiest little baby I ever say with his Mama's pretty red hair".
But sorrow came when Lee Edmond was stricken with an illness he couldn't survive and they lost their baby when he was only 10 months old. It was a burden almost too heavy to bear, but perhaps God used even this tragedy to strengthen them and prepare them to help countless young people down through the years. Young people were just naturally drawn to "Uncle Hurcle and Aunt Pearl", as generation after generation of them have been influenced and blessed by their lives.
Their home was always open to people - nieces, nephews, even strangers who stayed with them from time to time. One person recalls, "When we needed something fixed or if we got in a jam, Uncle Hurcle was the one we always called." Another niece reflects, "Growing up next door to Uncle Hurcle and Aunt Pearl was like having two sets of parents. I told Aunt Pearl all my secrets and depended on Uncle Hurcle to teach me to drive and later on to keep my car running.
Many of them said they always got Uncle Hurcle to cosign notes at the bank with them. "He didn't even need collateral; his word was good enough. Someone else remembered that Uncle Hurcle taught them the scales of a song and how to read shaped notes while someone else said he was my first dancing partner, we danced the Virginia Reel at MYF Youth meetings. His church, Center Ridge United Methodist, wa sand is one of the most important parts of his life. He says "something about that place just makes me feel closer to God."
They say "behind every good man is a good woman," and Aunt Pearl was that woman. Even when her health began to fail and she wasn't able to attend church with him, on Saturday nights, they would study their Sunday School lesson together so he could more effectively teach the Adult Sunday School Class, and they would sing songs together from an old Cokesbury Hymnal. This got him primed to lead the singing on Sunday mornings.
During the last 7-8 years of Aunt Pearls life, when she became totally confined to bed, Uncle Hurcle stayed by her side, doing all the cooking, housework, etc. He lovingly says this was not a chore but a belssing because she was his whole life. During his lifetime, Mr. Hurcle has been a "Jack of All Trades". In addition to raising crops of corn adn cotton, he worked at Milan Arsenal for about 25 years. He later owned and operated Pure Oil Service Station in Lexington. In his younger years, he sold Watkins Products door to door and raised large truck patches of vegetables which he pddled to his regular customers.
After retirement, he took another full time job of making pallets and was always available for repairing of small engines. Everyone admired the many assortment of flowers that he and Aunt Pearl always grew. He still loves puttering in the yard, making things grow, and making things with his hands. He says he is satisfied with his life. He never wanted a lot of money, just enough to pay his bills and have enough to help others if they needed a hand. His only regret is that Pearl and Lee Admond aren't still able to share his life. Although he finds great comfort in his faith and the assurance that they are in a much better world and that they will all be reunited some day.
Today he lives alone in the house he built himself when he and Aunt Pearl were newlyweeds, still attends Center Ridge Church where he is surrounded with friends and neighbors he loves and who love him. "I have the best neighbors in the world," he says. And he still loves and puts his trust in the same God who has been by his side and sustained him down through the years.