KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
January 13, 2021
By Jennifer Miko
Katy ISD school namesake Sharon Joy Rhoads passed away Sunday, January 10. She will be remembered for inspiring students in the classroom and her dedication to the Katy community.
Sharon Rhoads, Photo: Katy Magazine
Sharon Joy was born on June 4, 1941, and grew up in Temple, TX, between Austin and Waco. She loved art classes and was a member of the Temple Tumblers in high school. She attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she met Jack Rhoads.
He grew up in Katy and lettered in several sports at Katy High School. He was the captain of the football team his senior year, graduating in 1958. The couple was engaged in 1961 and married in 1963.
While in Dallas, Sharon taught art while Jack coached football. In 1971 the couple moved to Katy and Jack took the head football coaching position as well as the athletic directorship.
Dedication to Katy ISD
Sharon committed more than three decades of service to Katy ISD. She began teaching art at Katy Elementary and then moved to Hutsell Elementary when it opened in 1978. She mentored many new art teachers throughout the District and taught art until her retirement.
In 2004, Katy ISD honored Sharon and her late husband with the naming of Jack and Sharon Rhoads Elementary School.
A tribute to the couple can be found on the Rhoads Elementary website. The following summarizes their compassion and the respect earned by the school District: “Jack and Sharon Rhoads epitomize what Katy is all about. Their dedication to their church, family, friends, and children of the district inspires all who have come into contact with them. They both gave everything they had to their students and each other, providing an environment of love and faith to everyone they touched.”
Commitment to the Community
While living in Katy, Sharon participated in many organizations and volunteer groups. Almost 20 years ago, Sharon was appointed to the Keep Katy Beautiful Board. One of her first accomplishments was designing the Harvest Plaza logo, still at the center of the Plaza today. She was a familiar face on numerous Keep Katy Beautiful sub-committees including Earth Day, Trash-Off, America Recycles Day, and Texas Arbor Day.
Sharon also served on the Katy ISD FFA Parade Committee for 30 years, becoming an honorary member of Katy FFA. In 2008, she was named Katy Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year.
Chris Harris, City of Katy Mayor Pro Tem, met Sharon at church when he moved to Katy.
“She was the first ‘famous’ person I met, as Mrs. Rhoads was a Katy ISD namesake,” says Chris Harris. “She always was quick to share a funny story with me, and was very active in the community from school, church events, and Keep Katy Beautiful.”
Leaving a Notable Impression
Rebecca Fox met Sharon about 17 years ago through her work on the Katy ISD school board.
“I believe educators who serve their entire careers making a difference for children are making a difference in our future,” says Fox. “They deserve our highest honor and respect.”
Sharon was known for the “love notes” she would write to her students and others in the community.
Fox recalls the reception for the 10th anniversary of Rhoads Elementary. One of Sharon’s former students, who had already graduated from college attended.
“He pulled out a folded piece of paper with deep creases and worn edges from his wallet to show Mrs. Rhoads,” recalls Fox.
The young man had saved a "love note" that Sharon had written to him while he was an elementary student there years earlier.
“He said he kept it with him to remind him how valued he was because she said so in the note,” says Fox.
“She has written hundreds or maybe thousands of love notes to encourage others,” Fox says. “It is her legacy.”
Laura Beth Schilhab Jackson fondly remembers her former elementary school teacher.
“She taught us (A)ppreciation for others, (R)especting our classmates and those of authority, and (T)olerance and compassion for all our classmates of all abilities while helping create lifetime bonds and friendships,” recalls Laura Beth Schilhab Jackson. “You can’t say ‘Mrs. Rhoads’ without a smile on your face and warmth in your heart."
“She is an example to those serving today, and in the future,” says Harris.
The family will receive friends from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Friday, January 15, 2021, at Katy First Methodist Church, in Katy, where funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. with Dr. Richard L. White officiating. Interment in Katy Magnolia Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests those wishing to make memorial gifts do so to a scholarship fund established for a 2021 graduating senior who was an alumnus of Jack and Sharon Rhoads Elementary. Checks may be made payable to Jennifer Walker, c/o Schmidt Funeral Home, 1344 W. Grand Parkway South, Katy, TX 77494.