Ray Rhode ’51 is one of Gilmour’s “pioneers” (early graduates). In fact, he graduated in the Academy’s second class. Rhode gets together with other pioneers to reminisce about swimming classes in the Tudor Arms Hotel, Gilmour’s Blue Bus, the orchards and the greenhouses. “We considered ourselves as the leaders of the generations to follow,” says Rhode, an honorary Gilmour Trustee and current member of the school’s Academic Affairs and Institutional Advancement Committees. As pioneers “We knew that what we were doing would set the tone for those who followed us and set an example for future classes,” he says. Still the pioneers had a special place in their hearts for St. Mary’s Lake and the inflatable raft anchored there. “Best place to smoke on campus,” Rhode notes. After graduating from John Carroll University, Rhode was an officer in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps from 1956 until 1959.
In 1995, Rhode retired from the East Ohio Gas Company where he worked in sales, marketing and public affairs for 29 years. Still active in the community, he is chairman of the Records Commission in South Euclid where he lives with Noreen, his wife of 50 years. He organizes the city’s band concerts, is a credit union officer in Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish (formerly St. Gregory the Great) and is coordinator of the Lectors and Extraordinary Ministers group. Rhode is scribe for John Carroll University’s Class of ’55, a member of the university’s alumni group and served on the President’s Council from 2003 through 2004.
His hobbies are photography and traveling.
Rhode believes that Gilmour’s history has a message for present day students and he has been asked to address them several times about what the early years at Gilmour have meant to him adding, “I was always proud to be asked to do this.”
“Gilmour is an outstanding prep school,” he says maintaining that the philosophy imparted by the Holy Cross Brothers is what makes the school outstanding. Rhode regularly volunteers as a class agent with Annual Fund phone solicitations and he is a member of the Blue & Gray Society. In 1989, Gilmour named him Alumnus of the Year for his service to the Academy. Three of his sons –Patrick ’88, Christopher ’93 and Matthew ’96 are Gilmour graduates and Rhode and his wife are members of the Gilmour Academy Alumni Parents Association.
Rhode recalls a summer day in 1947 when he and his twin brother, Bob ’51, joined their father on their first visit to Gilmour. “It was not encouraging,” Rhode says. The trio was to attend a Cleveland Indians game following their visit with Brother Theophane Schmitt, C.S.C., Gilmour’s Headmaster. After touring the facilities, the group ended up in the tower at Tudor House and when Brother Theophane reached in his cassock for his keys he came up short. “The door to the tower was securely locked and we were stuck up there,” Rhode says. After almost two hours they got out but missed the baseball game. “My brother and I opined that the Jesuits would certainly never go up in a tower without their keys.” Despite the dubious beginning, Rhode views Gilmour as “a wonderful experience that can never be duplicated.”