OBITUARY – RICHARD MALCOM RHODUS
Rick (Richard) M Rhodus was taken from us very suddenly, November 16th 2022, having just turned 72, close by his ranch near La Veta, Colorado – his wife of over 50 years, Carole Alana Rhodus was devotedly at his side, as always. They had just recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary near Pagosa Springs, hiking and enjoying the Colorado Rockies they so cherished. They had no children, but were the “parents” of many 4 legged “kids” - horses, beloved Irish Setters, and many cats they’d rescued and nurtured through the years. Rick was born September 14, 1950 in Hamilton, Ohio to Betty Lee Huffman Rhodus and Richard Brown Rhodus, who preceded him in death. Previously they resided in Black Forest, CO for almost 25 years.
Rick has 4 other living brothers, David A Rhodus (wife Lynda Rhodus) of Castle Rock, CO; Kenneth Rhodus (wife Sharman Rhodus), of Hamilton, OH; Mark Rhodus (wife Victoria Rhodus), Fairfield, OH; Mitch Rhodus (wife Lois Rhodus) of Fairfield, OH; an infant sister Karen Lee, ½ brother Gene Rhodus and ½ sister Diane Rhodus-Miller preceded him in death. Many nieces, nephews, cousins, and of course, friends, who will miss “Ranger Rick”, as he was affectionately known.
Rick graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Architecture. Shortly after graduation, he was the “winner”, as he’d put it, of the lottery – that is, the first military draft lottery since WWII in 1970. With 2 brothers previously in the Corps, he immediately enlisted in the USMC, training & serving in California, where he received an Honorable Discharge 1971.
It was during that time he met the love of his life, Carole, in a scuba diving class on a dive boat near Catalina Island, CA. She gutsily asked him to be her “dive buddy” – “he was the most gorgeous man I’d ever laid eyes on”, and it was love at first sight for the both of them. She had a pilot’s license – Rick had always wanted to be a pilot – so it was through her & others he also fulfilled that dream to fly. In the California Mojave Desert he’d soar high into the sky on thermals in a glider; they’d often fly together. Carole was his “California Girl,” and they’ve been together ever since! They were married June 17, 1972 at 29 Palms, CA.
As Carole would later put it, “We’re schizophrenic gypsies” – always adventurous they lived in California, Colorado, Missouri and Ohio. Together they traveled extensively, exploring the western United States, hitting every state and relishing the wilds & wilderness of the West. Rick had always yearned for the West, with its wild rugged open spaces. He’d gaze high up into craggy peaks & remark “That’s Mountain Lion country!” He loved & marveled at all nature’s animals. The outdoors was where he felt the happiest, whether camping, backpacking, climbing 14’ers or stargazing our magnificent night skies - Colorado was always considered home & together they lived there for over 25 years. Together, they’d explore the West, Canada, Mexico & finally made it to France, where Rick relished seeing in person the amazing architecture of such places as The Louvre and Versailles. They stayed in a castle, “Fere en Tardenois,” which had ruins dating back to the Crusades - King Richard the Lion Heart, was said to have rested there on the way to the crusades.
Rick had an amazing career after the Marine Corps. He first worked for one of the most prestigious Architectural firms in California, Barry Berkus, in the mid ‘70’s, & even worked on the Master Plan for the entire country of Japan. Later he went on to serve for all 4 services as a civil servant. He first worked at 29 Palms Marine Base, then Wright Patterson AFB as Architect. He then spent 20 years at Ft Carson as the Senior Master Planner – planning, designing & obtaining budgetary approval from Congress for over $500 million in major military construction projects (one of his highlights was meeting with & working under General Colin Powell) – just some of his projects were Evans Army Hospital at Ft Carson & new facilities for the 10th Special Forces, who honored Rick with one of their special coins, rarely given to civilians.
One of his first projects at Carson, was to procure and develop Pinon Canon Maneuver Site, over 235,000 acres – incidentally, prior to acquisition, he had ridden that exact site on horseback with his beloved “Cowboy,” a beautiful & devoted palomino quarter horse. He recalled thinking he was going to be an Army helicopter statistic as they surveyed where water lines were to be run, the pilot getting a little close to trees & “trimming them” with the rotor blades.
Rick also developed the Master Plan for Schriever AFB Space Command, which he was able to see come to fruition. Lastly, he worked at the United States Air Force Academy, again as Master Planner, one of his most cherished assignments. Those new twin control towers at the USAFA airfield were one of his last projects before retiring in 2002. Rick had an unswerving feeling of duty & dedication to contributing to the mission of every facility and the personnel who served and worked. He was dedicated to making the lives better for all service members & their families. He was instrumental for all the new family housing at Fort Carson that cares for troop families. He truly changed lives for the better at every installation he worked. Rick received many accolades and awards during his long career with DOD.
As if all that weren’t enough, Rick became a licensed General Contractor in El Paso County – being a hands-on Architect, he relished design & actual physical construction. Together with his wife, Carole, they built many custom homes – many times doing the actual framing just the two of them. Together, they built in the Pikes Peak Region, Missouri & Ohio. The culmination of their business – Homes by Rhodus – was an award winning entry in the 1993 Parade of Homes Skyway Heights – their entry “Moonstruck.” Together, they personally designed & built many incredible homes for clients and for their own residence. Carole observed once, “I quit counting moves at 38.” They moved back to Rick’s birthplace of Ohio, on a small farm near Greenville, OH, where they designed & built their “best and final” dream home. Rick had taken to woodworking in retirement. With several acres of hardwood forest in their back yard, they harvested cherry, walnut, maple & poplar, from which he built an amazing all cherry cabinetry kitchen and all sorts of custom trim from the hardwoods right there on their property. However, their two hearts yearned for their beloved Colorado, and they returned in 2021, settling on 40 acres between Walsenburg & La Veta, CO – “Deer Meadows Ranch II” – at the base of the Wahotaya Mountains. Rick would often remark, “A good day is a sunny day and a load of 2 by 4’s.”
Rick was big on environmental & conservation issues, and was very much involved with the Black Forest Slash Mulch Program when they lived there. He volunteered to teach chain saw safety or load mulch, or help the founder, Ruth Ann Steele, Black Forest. He volunteered to help during the Heyman Fire catastrophe. He couldn’t say “no” when people needed help. Rick was taken far too soon from us unexpectedly by pulmonary embolism. Doctors attributed his good health to his positive mental attitude, staying active, all the physical training in youth/and the Marine Corps – plus, his love & zeal for life and the devotion & love of his wife Carole. He leaves behind his “California Girl” and all others, his love & eagerness to help others & litany of accomplishments that are an inspiration to those who knew him or benefited from his knowledge, talents & works. Rick was always eager to help in any way for his family & many friends. Rick was concerned that we are losing craftsmen and tradespeople who know how to manufacture & build things. It was his desire to mentor young people and show them the wonders and opportunities available to them in the Engineering, Architectural and construction fields. There is so much knowledge & experience he had to offer that is now, sadly, lost.
Rick’s celebratory visitation will be on December 2, 2022 at Cappadona Funeral Home,
1020 E Filmore St, Colorado Springs, CO 80907 at 8:00AM. Internment immediately following at 9:00AM, Pikes Peak National Cemetery. Donations in Richard Rhodus’ name may be made to the Humane Society of Pikes Peak; Rick & Carole are Legacy members of the Humane Society.