Herbert Neil Rhodes (1918-2014) passed away at his home on Feb. 13 after a brief illness. Neil Rhodes made his home in Fallbrook for 74 years. Raised on a farm near Cherryvale, Kansas by his parents, James Wilson and Gladys McCarty Rhodes, he moved to Fallbrook in 1940 at the age of 22 to work for his brother at Mark’s Garage on North Main Street. (It later became known as Roy’s Garage.)
Neil didn’t waste any time in sending for his girlfriend Ruby Nadine Froebe to join him. She rode the bus from Kansas to Fallbrook. Not wasting any time waiting for California’s marriage red tape, they drove to Yuma to wed on Aug. 14, 1940.
During World War II, Neil was in the US Army Air Corps and was stationed at several bases in England. He served as a driver of a jeep he weatherized on his own initiative, making it the most desirable transportation for the brass and the driver in England’s harsh weather. In his covered jeep, he led a convoy that crossed the English Channel, France, and a pontoon bridge across the Rhine into Germany. He worked with airborne troops salvaging gliders. At Mulun, France, he helped with repositioning three captured German ME 262A’s, the first operational jet aircraft. Neil traveled to Paris to celebrate the end of the war in Europe and returned to Fallbrook in 1945.
After his military service, he continued to work at the family garage until he was hired as a machinist/mechanic for Base Transport at Camp Pendleton. From 1952 to his retirement in 1974, he was the “go-to guy” to get things done on any base vehicle.
After retirement, he enjoyed making motors and other items work. He sold used lawnmowers out of his garage and became known as “The Lawnmower Man.”
The Rhodes raised two children in Fallbrook – son Allen Ray Rhodes now of Las Cruces, N.M., (wife Marsha Dell Tolleson Langston), and daughter Rita Nadine East Jensen now of Boise, Idaho. Neil had five grandsons: Tim East and wife Marcy of Phoenix, Ariz.; John East and wife Becky of Glendale, Ariz.; Michael Rhodes and wife Lisa of Lincoln, Calif.; Daniel Rhodes and wife Valerie of Great Falls, Mont.; Dustin Jensen and partner Jessica of Boise, Idaho. Neil had two granddaughters: Jennifer Jensen and partner Sam of Boise, Idaho and Amie Jensen of Boise, Idaho. He had 16 great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews. Neil is also survived by special friends Sheryl Howell and Becky Altringer of La Verne, Calif.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Foundation for Senior Care or the Fallbrook Historical Society in Neil’s memory.
A memorial service will be held for Neil at the First Christian Church, 318 West Fig in Fallbrook on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. All friends of the deceased are invited to join the family.