Donald Rhine

Obituary of Donald Kelly Rhine

Fairhope Alabama/ Sodus


Donald Kelly Rhine departed this earth to be with his Savior for eternity on April 14, 2018, where he was reunited with his loving parents, his brothers Lauren and George, and many other loved ones. He was surrounded by his family and his loving wife of 63 years at the time of his Homegoing.  

Don was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania to Donald and Elizabeth Rhine, and his earliest jobs were delivering newspapers, and later riding his bike after school to the Beasley Ford Engine-Rebuilding Factory, which his father managed.  Upon graduation from Altoona High School in 1951, Don attended Houghton College in New York, where he was a pre-med student.  While visiting his younger brother in the college infirmary, he met a lovely nurse and fellow student, Miss Dorothy Mills, and she captured his heart. After graduation, Don and Dot were married on July 2, 1955, making her his personal nurse for the remainder of his life. He then studied missions for a year at Columbia Bible College in Columbia, SC before relocating to Pittsburgh, PA, where he was employed for two years by a pharmaceutical company.

Don then moved his young family to Cherry Lane in Sodus, New York, a fruit farm owned by his in-laws, Daniel and Deborah (Jordan) Mills.  Here, he began his career as a science teacher at Wayne Central School, and built a home on the farm where his family thrived.  In his “spare” time, Don planted a large garden each summer to feed his expanding family, with help from the children.

He soon started a new teaching position at Sodus Central School, eventually becoming the Science Department Chair, and was known to be kind to everyone, whether it be fellow teachers, or the students he caught smoking in the bathroom.  “Mr. Rhine” had a great mind and memory, and never forgot a name! He is remembered fondly by his students for his keen wit and sense of humor, his love of science, and field trips to the Zurich Bog and the Herkimer Diamond Mines. He was determined to help each student succeed not only in his classroom, but also in life.

In 1970, Don and six other teachers (who became lifetime friends) saw a need for an alternative to traditional banking, as teachers were then considered part-time employees and had difficulty getting loans.  They began the Wayne County Teachers’ Association Credit Union with the goal of “people helping people.” For the next 24 years his devotion to the credit union saw it grow to 18,000 members, three branches, and over $100 Million in assets before his retirement in 1994.  Mr. Rhine continued to serve the credit union as an active member of the Board of Directors until 2000, and stayed in close touch with his credit union family until the time of his death.

Upon retirement, Don first settled in Clearwater, Florida until he was “kicked out” for having too many visiting grandchildren’s feet pounding on the floors above his neighbor’s unit.  He then settled in nearby Dunedin where he was appreciated for his wise financial advice and his superior set of tools. Eventually, he and Dot, made their final move to Fairhope, Alabama where they have enjoyed their many friends at the Brennity at Fairhope Retirement Community and at the Fairhope Avenue Baptist Church.

Don will be remembered as a lifetime Pittsburgh Steeler and Pirate fan, while in later years he became an avid fan of both the Alabama and Syracuse college teams.  Don’s favorite foods were Spam, scrapple and Klondike Bars, and he had an extensive fossil, gem and mineral collection from around the world.  His favorite pastimes included stopping to point out geological landmarks on road trips, teasing his grandchildren incessantly yet giving them wise life advice, and listening to his precious great-grandchildren sing songs about Jesus.  In his last years here on earth, Don would often profess his love for his dear Dot, his family, and his Lord and Savior.

Don is survived by his wife, Dorothy; his sister, Eleanor Keller; and his nine children: Sharon (Dennis) Grimes, Daniel (Carol) Rhine, Lois Rhine Heffron, Dorothy (Glen) Brown, Mary (Patrick) Delaney, Don (Tomoko) Rhine, Janet (Kirk) Linahan, Thomas (Tana) Rhine, and David (Susan) Rhine, who loved and cared for him. He will also be greatly missed by his 42 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends, both old and new. 

A celebration of Don’s eighty-five years will be held on Saturday, April 21 at 11 a.m. at the Fairhope Avenue Baptist Church, 8717 Fairhope Avenue, Fairhope, AL, followed by a reception in the church fellowship hall.  A memorial service will also be held in Sodus, New York in the coming months, at a location, date and time to be determined. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to either the Clear Springs Baptist Church, ATTN: Rhine Legacy Missions Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 21, Cantonment, Florida, 32533, or to the Reliant Community Credit Union, ATTN: DKR Scholarship Fund, PO Box 40, Sodus, New York, 14551.



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