Jean Mae Gaskins-Rhodes was an elementary school teacher who had a passion for working with underprivileged children.
She died Sept. 18, 2012. She was 78.
She was born on May 10, 1934, in Crewe, Va., to Reginald and Louise Gaskins.
After her family relocated to Philadelphia, she attended the Brooks Elementary School, Sulzberger Middle and West Philadelphia High School. After high school, she matriculated at Cheyney State College and completed graduate studies at Temple University, majoring in education. She maintained life-long friendships with the members of the Cheyney University Class of 1956 as they raise funds to award scholarships to deserving students.
She joined Camphor Memorial Church in 1948 under the leadership of Rev. Daniel Rideout. Her parents and sister soon followed her lead.
She taught elementary school for more than 32 years, retiring from Andrew Hamilton Elementary School. Her forte was teaching students who were deemed difficult to work with. Instilling the importance of reading, she combined her formal education with her genuine love for children to develop techniques that realized great success. One of her instructional strategies was to teach literacy through musical lyrics.
Although frequently recognized and awarded for her success with teaching reading, her greatest reward was the joy both students and their parents experienced once a child learned to read.
She was also known for providing mentorship.
“As one who has never liked the spotlight, always deferring to play a supporting role, Jean consistently provided mentorship and encouragement to all attempting to improve themselves,” her family said.
“Although the youth were her major focus, anyone would be guaranteed to receive a warm greeting and an encouraging word.”
She had a love for music and played the piano. She served as the musical leader of Camphor Church for 30 years. As a tireless advocate for children, she started a young people’s choir using professional musicians at the church. She also suggested the return of youth Sunday at Camphor. Throughout the years, Gaskins-Rhodes assisted in raising thousands of dollars for the church by hosting fundraisers.
She married Talmadge Rhodes at Camphor Church in 1961. They recently celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary with family who participated in the annual celebration of their love for each other.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her children, C. Denise, Kevin and Lisa Rhodes; daughter-in-law, Ena Foundation-Rhodes; adopted son, Carlton L. Payne; grandchildren, Brandon, Kaila and Kesabian Rhodes, Brandie Stasney; sister, Claudia Manning; nieces, Carmen Manning, Darlene Manning-Edmonds (Gary), Amirah Manning, Barbara Harvey (Andrew), Connie Peterson (Jeffery), Amy Brickett (Jared), Jennifer Rhodes, Starr and Chanda Cullars; nephews, Curtis Zafir Manning, Bob Rhodes Jr. (Cydney), David Rhodes (Pearl), Jonathan Rhodes, Julio PentaSoto (Chanel), Michael and Bruce Gill, Felton Hood (Carol), Ron Mills Jr. (Paula); godson, Randy Robinson; goddaughters, JoAnna Gardner, Tiffany C. Walker; and other relatives and friends.
Services will be held September 29 at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, 5620 Waylusing Avenue. Viewing is at 9 a.m. Services will follow at 11 a.m. Burial is in Glenwood Memorial Garden in Broomall.
Wood Funeral Home handled the arrangements.