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ACU Remembers: Don Rhoden


Don Rhoden
Don Rhoden

Former longtime ACU trustee Don Clifford Rhoden (’58) died Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, in Tuscola, Texas, at age 87. 

A time of visitation will be held Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023, at 5 p.m. at Piersall Funeral Directors (733 Butternut St., Abilene, Texas 79602), followed by a time of remembrance at 6 p.m.

Rhoden was born April 3, 1936, in Ballinger, Texas. He grew up in Abilene and San Angelo, and married Dee Ana Moss (’62) in April 1961. Rhoden earned a bachelor’s degree in business at ACU, lettered in baseball and football for the Wildcats, and after graduation, played two seasons for minor league teams affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Club.

His business career included being president of Heldon Corp., a chain of general discount stores in South Texas (1968-78); president of Little d Inc., which operated restaurant franchises in West Texas (1978-82); being self-employed in the investment field (1982-85); and president and CEO of Units, a women’s apparel retailer and subsidiary of J.C. Penney (1986-89). He became CEO and board chair of Units in 1989.

Rhoden was a member of ACU’s Advisory Board (1977-89) and Board of Development (1986-89) prior to serving on the university’s Board of Trustees from 1989-2007.

When he lived in Garland, Texas, he served as a deacon of Highland Oaks Church of Christ in Dallas. He and Dee Ana were longtime members of Abilene’s University Church of Christ.

He was preceded in death by his parents, W.C. “Clifford” and Vera Rhoden (’28), and his sister, Brooksie Ann Havens. Among survivors are Dee Ana, his wife of 62 years; sons Clifford Rhoden (’84) and his wife, Lisa (Crisp ’86) Rhoden, and Grant (’86) and his wife, Kylie Rhoden; a daughter, Jamie (Rhoden ’94) and her husband, Ray Cheatham (’85); eight grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

– Ron Hadfield

Aug. 11, 2023

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