In memoriam: Bert Rhoads, 1928-2015

Western Today staff

[ Editor's note: This obituary was first published by Vaughn Funeral Home. ]

James Berton “Bert” Rhoads, Sr. passed away April 7, 2015, at the Twin Oaks nursing care facility in Leavenworth, Kan.

A visitation will be held from 10 to 11 a.m., Friday, April 10, at Vaughn Funeral Home in Weston, Mo., followed by an 11 a.m. funeral service. Interment will follow at the Platte City Cemetery, Platte City, Mo. The family suggests contributions be given to: James B. & Angela Rhoads Archival Scholarship Fund, c/o Western Washington University Foundation.

Bert was born Sept. 17, 1928, in Sioux City, Iowa, to James Harrison and Mary Agnes (Keenan) Rhoads. His father was a minister, and the family moved around to many areas throughout Bert’s early life. He attended Southwestern Jr. College, 1946-47, and Union College, Lincoln, Neb., 1947-48. Bert then earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1950 and his master’s degree in 1952 from the University of California, Berkley. He later earned his Ph.D. from American University in 1965.

Bert married Sadie Angela Handy on Aug. 12, 1947, in Lincoln, Neb. He was the archivist of the United States with the General Services Administration-National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C., from 1952 to 1979. He was member of the National Archives Trust Fund Board from 1968 to 1979, chairman of National Historical Publications and Records Commission from 1968 to 1979, member of Federal Council on Arts and Humanities from 1970 to 1979, president of Rhodes Associates International from 1980 to 1984, director of Graduate Program in Archives and Records Management at Western Washington University from 1984 to 1994, and professor emeritus from 1994 to present.

Also: Trustee for Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 1969-79; and Vice President of Intergovernmental Council, UNESCO Info. Program, 1977-79; Bert was the recipient of the Meritorious and Distinguished Service awards from the General Services Administration, 1966, 68, and 79; President of Fellow Society American Archivists, 1974-75; President of International Council, Archives 1976-79; and President of Academic Certified Archivists, 1992-94.

Throughout his career as U.S. archivist, Bert played a key role in establishing the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., as well as the Johnson and Kennedy libraries. He served throughout four presidential administrations. Bert was awarded the distinction of Kentucky Colonel by the state’s governor in 1979.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Angela; a daughter, Marcia Rhoads MacKellar; and a brother, Gayle Elwood Rhoads.

He is survived by his son James Berton Rhoads, Jr. and wife Elizabeth of Brandenburg, Ky.; his daughter Cynthia Rhoads Neven and husband Christopher of Weston, Mo.; his brother Donald Harrison Rhoads and wife Jean of Bloomington, Ind.; seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 8:53am