James J.Jay� Rhoads, 76, retired Franklin school teacher, multi-sport coach, referee and umpire and life-long Franklin High School (FHS) athletic program enthusiast, died Saturday, February 20th at UPMC Northwest Hospital following a long illness.
Mr. Rhoads graduated from FHS, class of 1951, where he played basketball and football. Following high school, Mr. Rhoads served two years in the U.S. Army. After his honorable discharge from the Army, he went to Clarion University on the GI Bill where he earned a BS in Elementary Education.
He taught elementary school in Franklin for 34 years, one year at the 9th Street Elementary School and 33 years at the 7th Street Elementary School. His students, fellow teachers, family and friends respected his wisdom and enjoyed his unique, understated wit and humor. He was also proud of the fact that as an elementary school basketball coach he took the lead in naming the 7th Street Elementary School?s boys? basketball teamThe Franklin Squires.? He said the name was appropriate because during the middle-ages a squire was a young knight.
Friends, students and family members knew they were officially admitted to Jay?sinner circle? when he affectionately assigned them a nickname. A lifelong member of the Franklin Men?s Softball League, Jay was proud of the fact that he was selected to play on the U.S. Army?s baseball team.
For many years, Mr. Rhoads was the Director of the City of Franklin?s Summer Playground program. In that capacity, Jay supervised a cadre of local teachers who organized a very active summer schedule of activities, crafts and sports including both boys and girls softball teams. These teams not only played against each other but competed against other teams throughout the area.
If sports hall of fames had a membership category for fans, referees and coaches, Jay Rhoads would certainly be a charter member. For over 40 years, Mr. Rhoads refereed local high school and basketball games, high school football games, men?s softball league games and little league baseball games.
He was also a loyal follower of FHS athletics attending FHS football, basketball, track and wresting matches and a long-time supporter of both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates. For years, he and his brother Curtis (Dusty) Rhoads also coached a Franklin Little League team. There was a long standing joke among Jay?s friends that he was such a devoted fan of FHS sports that whenever he donated blood to the Red Cross the color was red and black.
Lou Fogle, co-captain of the undefeated 1959-1969 FHS football team credits Jay, a volunteer special teams coach, with helping him lead the state that year with a punting average of 44 yards.
After he retired, every weekday morning Jay and a group of fellow retired teachers would get together at the Franklin McDonald?s to talk about local sports andsolve the problems of Western Civilization.? Jay also enjoyed playing in the Sleepy Hollow Men?s Senior Golf League.
Mr. Rhoads is survived by his wife Barbara, of Franklin; three daughters Jaye Schreier, M.D. and her husband John of Chicago, IL; Susi Lyons and her husband Tim and Cindy Cochran and her husband Joe all of Franklin. Also surviving are five grandchildren Timothy and Darcy Schreier of Chicago, IL; and Douglas (DJ) Grill of Franklin; and Shari Ward and her husband Jeff of Kansas City, MO and Jamie Lake of Franklin. Also surviving is a brother Charles (Whitey) Rhoads from Florida.
Preceding him in death were his mother and father Goldie and Warren Rhoads one brother Curtis (Dusty) Rhoads, and one infant son all from Franklin.
Friends may call at the Huff Chapel, 312 W. Park St., Franklin on Tuesday, February 23rd from 2-4 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 24 in the Christ United Methodist Church, 1135 Buffalo Street, Franklin with the Rev. Sam Wagner, associate pastor, officiating.
Interment will follow in the Franklin Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Franklin High School Athletic Department, 246 Pone Lane, Franklin PA 16323 or the Franklin Little League, C/o Rob Greggs, Pres., 603 Elk Street, Franklin PA 16323.