MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — As the Myrtle Beach area is mourning the loss of former Mayor John Rhodes, community members and friends are sharing their reactions and memories of him.
The City of Myrtle Beach announced Sunday that John Rhodes died from COVID-19 Saturday.
“I think everyone was shocked in the community. I knew that John had COVID, I knew that he was in critical condition but certainly never expected this and my heart goes out to his family and to the city,” Brenda Bethune, Mayor of Myrtle Beach said.
John Rhodes served as Mayor of Myrtle Beach from 2005 to 2017 when Brenda Bethune took over as his predecessor.
Mayor Bethune says she’d been friends with John and his family for a long time and that he’ll truly be missed.
“He truly had an amazingly huge heart and he cared about people, all people and I think that showed in everything that he did,” Mayor Bethune said.
Mayor Bethune said he’ll not only be remembered for his witty sense of humor, but how involved he was with the community serving as the Executive Director of the Beach Ball Classic and creating Savannah’s Playground.
“That is his legacy, and that is something that has really transformed this community especially for children who do have special needs, to have that exclusive playground experience is just phenomenal and he gets the credit for that. That was his vision and it’s here and it’s left for us all to enjoy,” Mayor Bethune said.
John Rhodes had named Savannah’s Playground after Savannah Thompson, a girl born with Williams Syndrome, a condition that presents academia challenges and developmental delays.
“It was something he was so passionate about and he was such a passionate and caring individual, to begin with, and really felt like this was something the Myrtle Beach area needed so he worked tirelessly, and again we’ll be forever grateful to even have Savannah, have her name associated with it,” Lance Thompson, Savannah’s dad said.
Lance added that “We were just devastated to hear the news of John’s passing. He loved Savannah, Savannah loved him,”
Lance said he and his family were close with John and his wife and that this is a huge loss for the community.
Lance added that “He worked so hard and passionately to get the enabling park here for our community and it’s been such a happy place here and we’ll be forever grateful to him and all his efforts and it’s just a devastating loss, the community’s lost a great leader.”