Rev. Russell Rhoads

Rev. Russell Rhoads, 75, Minot, died Friday, March 14, 2014, in his home, surrounded by the love of his family and friends.

Russell was born Oct. 16, 1938, on the family farm near Glenburn, the son of Clarence and Eva (Clark) Rhoads. His mother died when he was 8 years old, so Russ was raised by his father as well as Grandma Clark and Grandma Rhoads. He attended school in Glenburn and Minot and graduated from Glenburn High School in 1956.

Immediately after graduation, Russ joined the Army, which gave him the opportunity to travel the world, where he met and married Maria Josefa Rios in 1960 and had two children, Ricardo and Angela. He served honorably at NATO headquarters in France, at the Pentagon, at Heidelburg, Germany, in Vietnam, as well as several Army posts in the United States. At the age of 28, he was the youngest master sergeant in the U.S. Army.

After 15 years in the military, Russ returned to Minnesota in 1972, where he began the next stage of his life. Through mutual friends, Russ met Janet Pedersen of Kenmare and they married on June 17, 1977. They were able to use their strengths to bring out the best in each other.

Russ graduated from Inver Grove Heights Community College and then Hamline University in 1979. He was recognized by the American Psychological Association as the outstanding student in the field of psychology, which gave him opportunities to pursue further doctoral study and work in psychology. However, he followed God’s calling to become a pastor and attended Luther-Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., graduating with a master of divinity degree in 1983.

Russ fulfilled his pastoral internship at Watford City, where their daughter, Sarah, was born. His internship was such a positive experience that he requested assignment to western North Dakota. His first parish was St. Olaf (Turtle Lake) and Our Savior’s (Mercer). It was here their son, Aaron, joined the family. Russ involved himself thoroughly in the community affairs and served for a year as commercial club president.

In 1987, Russ received the call to Zion Lutheran in Berthold and was there until his retirement in 2006. For some of those years, the parish included St. Olaf (Tagus) and Our Savior’s (Blaisdell). Russ actively engaged his congregation and youth in mission activities, including servant trips to Caring and Sharing Hands in Minneapolis. Russ was thoroughly involved with school activities as well as ecumenical events in the community. Meeting every morning for coffee uptown allowed Russ and those gathered to solve all the world’s problems.

In July 2006, Russ retired; he and Janet moved to Minot, where he continued to be active as a visitation pastor for Christ Lutheran and did supply preaching on occasion, especially in Deering and Hope, rural Sawyer. Russ always felt humbled by the opportunity to serve God’s people as a pastor. His many experiences helped shape his life and ministry.

In his free time, Russ enjoyed golfing and downhill skiing, not only as a participant but also as a teacher. He was a coach for the Berthold High School golf team and taught many of the Luther League kids how to ski. Nothing made him happier than doing things together with his family, and he was very proud not only of his children but also of his extended church and community family. And, in all things, he was grateful for God’s amazing grace.

Russ is survived by: his loving wife, Janet; his children, Ricardo (Kelli) Rhoads, Sarah (Daniel) Haff, Aaron (Lindsey) Rhoads; his grandchildren, Isaac and Ethan Rhoads and Abigail Haff; sister, Barbara Abrahamson; his brothers-in-law, Michael (Terri) Pedersen, Mark (Susan) Pedersen, Jon (Jaclynn) Pedersen; and sister-in-law, Jean (Bryan) Quigley.

Russ was preceded in death by: his parents; daughter, Angela; and his parents-in-law, Efraim and Margaret Pedersen.

The family prefers memorials be given to World Hunger Appeal or Western North Dakota Synod Ministry Fund, which gives scholarship aid to new pastors.

Funeral Service: Monday, March 17, at 10:30 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, Berthold.

Graveside Service: In the spring of 2014 at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, rural Kenmare.

Visitation: Today, Sunday, March 16, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Minot.

Prayer Service: Today, Sunday, March 16, at 5 p.m. at Thompson-Larson Funeral Home Chapel, Minot.

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