Cover photo for Carl "Jim" Rhodes's Obituary
Carl "Jim" Rhodes Profile Photo
1941 Carl 2023

Carl "Jim" Rhodes

September 14, 1941 — May 15, 2023

Lonoke, Arkansas

Carl “Jim” James Rhodes, 81, of Lonoke, AR passed away at his home and in the company of many that loved him on May 15, 2023. Jim was born on September 14, 1941.

He is survived by four sons, Bobby, Chris, Kerry (Jennifer), and Terry Rhodes; and 35 grandchildren and great-grandchildren combined.

Jim is preceded in death by his mother, Lorene Rhodes Caton; brother, Johnny Rhodes; wife, Frances Rhodes; son, James Rhodes.

Jim to his wife, Dad to his five sons, Papa to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He loved his extended family and enjoyed explaining the family tree. To Jim, nothing mattered more than family. He and Frances built a life that said welcome.

He is our Giant, our very own legend. Larger than life but very much real.

He loved family reunions, fish-fries, cookouts, late nights of dominoes, and any reason to bring as many family members together as possible.

Summer found him with a pack of Camels in his pocket and tilling the garden on his tractor, sometimes with a grandkid on his lap or perched on the tractor, sometimes even a chihuahua. He tinkered, tilled, plotted, and worked covered in sweat, committed to finishing the day’s work. He was a handy-man and there were few things he could not fix. He was always willing to teach. You just had to show up.

Real food, real meals were important to Jim. Meals should be enjoyed. Breakfast should be a full table. Biscuits and gravy, maybe even chocolate gravy, Karo syrup, sausage and bacon, eggs, both kinds--fried and scrambled. A good dinner might be fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans. Taters in any form were always enjoyed and welcomed. Add garden vegetables as available by the pickings. Fresh maters and fresh corn on the cob. Oh, the delight of a southern meal prepared by the love of his life. He loved Frances with a deep devotion, the cooking was a bonus. Before you think she did all the cooking, he was quite the briner and baster of holiday meats as he set alarms throughout the nights to check on the roasting turkeys, he was the baker of Pecan Pies, and the rubber of ribs before smoking. He and Frances had a perfect system and moved in harmony with a bit of teasing, as was appropriate.

Jim Rhodes was the biggest Razorbacks fan! If you drove up to the house on game day, you could see the house shake and hear the rumble of fans inside. Hog fans are not quiet. The Rhodes family is not quiet, and that little house boomed. Go ahead, call the Hogs for Jim. Be loud.

Nothing made him prouder than his family, and he unapologetically bragged and told every story he could. Embellishments were free of charge. The bigger the story, the more committed, the more his eyes twinkled with mischief, the more his listeners laughed, which only fueled his storytelling. Legend.

Visiting Jim and Frances was like taking a break from the world. You were welcomed by flowers in bloom, swings, chickens, donkeys, climbing trees and shade trees to sit under, freshly mowed grass, and a glass of ice water or iced tea offered immediately. Grab a seat and stay a spell. You were welcome. No one was a stranger.

The highway might be the only thing breathing a bit lighter with his passing. Jim’s right foot was quite a bit heavier than his left, which caused staying within the speed limit to be tricky. He loved driving. His family formally apologizes for the times he judged your driving skills. Some may call it borderline road rage; we refer to it as creative feedback. You are a more observant driver thanks to his feedback. Drive in peace. He confessed to one of his teenage great-grandchildren on a speedy drive a few years ago, “I’m a 73-year-old model with the engine of a 16-year-old.” He was a man that kept his quick wit and charm throughout his life.

As the writer of his obituary, I want to tell you all the small details just as he told his stories. Every sentence that I write has another story behind it. I’m realizing I could write a book about his joys and life.

He was larger than life in all ways. Our living legend. The biggest man in the room with the biggest heart he offered freely. How could a man that big with those long arms carry so many tiny babies? He did. And he loved every.single.one. His laugh was contagious, and he made sure the whole room knew what that baby or grandchild did, even if he had to retell it 7 times. Each time laughing with the same enthusiasm as the first telling. The story never aged for him.

“Swing me higher, Papa.” He would walk his yard over among the grandbabies simultaneously swinging from different limbs and trees with him pushing and walking until we thought his arms and legs might fall off. Hot summer days or frigid winter days, he was willing. He’d tote, pull a wagon, and walk with his grandbabies, showing them the chickens or swinging until one of them suggested a break. Just a slight suggestion on his part. Then he’d come into the house with an unlit cigarette in his mouth already laughing and recounting the experience. As the grandbabies grew and pulled up in their own vehicles, he’d check their oil, gauge the pressure in their tires, and anything else they might need. No one drove away without an inspection from Papa.

“What’s your hurry?” This was his response anytime you announced it was time to leave. You might have visited with him all day or have stayed for several days. He still wasn’t ready to release you. This was the beginning of the Long Goodbye. Directions for the Long Goodbye: Give your hugs and kisses inside the house, maybe do a second round, visit on the front porch, start talking about the flowers again, walk around the yard one more time listening to the narration from Jim and Frances, make it to your vehicle, the kids might start swinging, hugs and kisses again, an hour or three later you finally drive away. The Long Goodbye could also include suddenly remembering things that you wish to give the person leaving, then going back to find all those things and initiating the Long Goodbye all over again.

Maybe he gave us the Long Goodbye. Many of us did not think he’d make it past the first year without his beloved by his side. He did and then some. Dear Papa, thank you for teaching us to linger longer.

Jim showed us life is to be cherished, family is to be valued.

Love your family, eat dinner with them, serve others, implement the Long Goodbye. That is his legacy.

Create a life that says welcome.

Love it. Live it. Call those Hogs. Be inspired by Jim.

A graveside service will be held at 11:00 AM, Saturday, May 20, 2023, at Hamilton Cemetery.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Carl "Jim" Rhodes, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Graveside Service

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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