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Posted by Cathy Gowdy on Monday, February 06, 2006 at 05:10:15 :

Marin Independent Journal
Sunday, September 8, 2002

Eleanor Barnett Rhoads
Age 72, peacefully passed away August 16, 2002 in the San Rafael, California, home she had shared for 40 years with her loving husband, Richard (Dick) Rhoads. As she passed away, Dick stood by her side, as he had done for over 50 years of marriage to his beloved wife. Eleanor left behind not only Dick, but also her loving son, Steven Richard Rhoads. Only a few weeks before her death, Eleanor was diagnosed with cancer. She accepted her plight, and acknowledged her impending death, with the same grace, dignity, and courage that she had exhibited throughout her life. On her way to death, she managed to teach her husband and son how to accept her absence with that same grace, dignity, and courage. Eleanor Mae Barnett was born May 28, 1930, on her family's farm a few miles north-east of Clarksville, Iowa. She was one of eight born to Ornan and Fern Marx Barnett. Eleanor started her formal education at a little country-school. (She had to walk almost two miles to get to it, 'though she ran much of that distance on the occasions when she was chased by a bull.) She then graduated from Clarksville High School and went on to nurses training at the University of Iowa. She earned her degree in 1952 and married Dick, who had recently earned an accounting degree, also from the university, and who had known Eleanor since childhood. Their love produced their first son, Jeffrey Lee Rhoads, in 1954. Three years later, they brought their second son, and only other child, Steven, into the world. All the while, Eleanor worked as a nurse, caring for the sick and dying. She and Dick, along with their two boys, lived at various times in Denver, New York, and New Jersey. Their hope to move west, to California, was fulfilled in 1962, but only after Jeff fell victim to spinal meningitis and passed away at the tender age of seven. After moving west, Eleanor, Dick, and Steve settled down in San Rafael, just north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge. Dick worked in San Francisco, where he continued to pursue his career in public accounting. (He later became the chief financial officer for the Fairmont Hotels, where he spent the remainder of his career.) Eleanor, meanwhile, left the nursing profession, but continued to care for others as a volunteer at the local hospital. She also volunteered years' of services as the secretary of the First Methodist Church of San Rafael. Eleanor spent endless hours making the San Rafael home a peaceful haven for Dick and Steve. But she also earned a second college degree, this one from California State University in Sonoma, and read scores of books, including all 20 volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia, from A to Z. She took long walks every day and practiced yoga and designed the interior of her home with beautiful taste - and well-deserved pride. She was a seamstress and a sculptor. She painted pictures and painted the house and made gourmet meals. She was tireless in her quest to please. Eleanor loved animals and all things natural. She was particularly fond of the ocean and Southwest desert. Household pets over the years included a dog, two cats, two guinea pigs - and a monkey. Eleanor had a love-hate relationship with snakes and had a special place in her heart for frogs. But most of all, she and Dick were cat-people. Eleanor dreamed of traveling to Africa, and Dick made her dream come true when they first visited Kenya in 1983. They also traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. She, Dick, and Steve survived a shipwreck off the western coast of Canada, while returning from Alaska. She trekked with experts through the rainforests of the Amazon and visited the Galapagos Islands. She stood on the Equator in Africa and traversed jungle rivers in Asia. She and Dick rode the Orient Express and sailed across the Black Sea to what was then the Soviet Union. She stayed on tropical islands and stayed in elegant European hotels. And she always tidied up the hotel rooms before the maids arrived, just to make things a little easier for them. Eleanor's kindness touched everyone who had the good fortune of knowing her, and many who had not even met her. She was not only immensely kind and loving, but also considerate, concerned, caring, forgiving, gentle, intellectual, knowledgeable, grateful, graceful, fun, polite, artistic, talented, creative, clever, witty, dependable, responsible, and indispensable to her family and friends. Now she is irreplaceable. Her son Steve has told many that if everyone were like his mother, there would be no wars, no crime, no hunger, no pollution. In addition to her husband and son, Eleanor is survived by other loving family members, including her sister, Evelyn Dye, of Phoenix; brother Lyle Barnett and his wife, Marie, who still live on the family farm; brother Joe Barnett and his wife, Joyce, of Minneapolis; brother Ben Barnett and his wife, Beverly, of Iowa City; and numerous nieces and nephews. Preceding Eleanor in death were her first son, Jeff; her father, Ornan, and mother, Fern (Maudie) Barnett; sisters Gail Bolin and Rose Brown; and brother Ivan. Eleanor will rest in peace next to her son Jeff, in Lynnwood Cemetery, in Clarksville, Iowa. She will be sorely missed by those whose lives she has touched. But her spirit will live on in their hearts forever.

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