Cover photo for Captain Willard Conrad “Billy” Rhodes, USN, Retired's Obituary
Captain Willard Conrad “Billy” Rhodes, USN, Retired Profile Photo

Captain Willard Conrad “Billy” Rhodes, USN, Retired

October 15, 1930 — October 4, 2023


Captain Willard Conrad “Billy” Rhodes, USN, Retired


Captain Willard Conrad “Billy” Rhodes, USN, Retired, died on October 4, 2023. Born on October 15, 1930, he was the son of Lillian Harris and Howard Willard Rhodes Sr. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his sisters Lillian Rhodes, Helen R. Hannah, Rosalie R. Hauser and brother, Howard W. Rhodes, Jr. He was also predeceased by his son-in-law, Robert Troy Hight.

He is survived by his wife, Marianne Loving Rhodes who, for some reason or another, put up with him for 65 years of their marriage. Also surviving are his children, Marianne Clark Rhodes Hight of Pawleys Island, South Carolina and Willard Conrad Rhodes, Jr. of Lynchburg, his grandchildren, Robert Tucker Hight of Myrtle Beach, Alexandra Hight Balicki (Brandon) of Savannah and Ella Blair Rhodes of Lynchburg. He regretted that he did not live to see each of them fulfill their lives as parents and achieve their chosen field of endeavor.

Billy graduated from E. C. Glass High School, attended Lynchburg College and graduated from The University of Virginia School of Architecture in 1954 where he served as president of Alpha Rho Chi architectural fraternity and as head cheerleader for the University; of course, that was before he had to compete with the beautiful and athletic women students as cheerleaders; there were no women then.

He enlisted in the Naval Reserve at age 17, was commissioned in 1954 and served for 42 years, retiring with the rank of Captain. He served on the staff of CINCNELM, London and in reserve components in Charlottesville, Portsmouth, Lynchburg, Roanoke and as Regional Information Officer for the U. S. Naval Academy for the western part of Virginia.

Upon release from active duty, he worked for architectural firms in Norfolk and Lynchburg, establishing his own firm in 1961, Several years later he partnered with the late Carl D. Cress, Jr. to form Cress- Rhodes and Associates for 27 years. After Mr. Cress's retirement he retained his sole practitioner practice. He was a member emeritus of the American Institute of Architects. He served the City of Lynchburg as a Chairman of the Board of Adjustment and Appeals, a board member of The Historic and Architectural Review Board and The Lynchburg Historical Society. He drove for Meals on Wheels for over 30 years until he was unable to in 2019.

Billy loved sports and was very active as a softball pitcher, ski instructor at The Homestead and sailing; he was a member of VISA Yacht Club at Smith Mountain Lake during which time he served as Fleet Captain, Rear Commodore and Commodore. Billy served many years as Master of Ceremonies for the annual Recommissioning Ceremony and as Chairman of the Annual Centerboard Invitational Regatta.

He loved golf and was a member of Oakwood Country Club for 58 years. When Oakwood closed their golf course, he joined Ivy Hill Golf Club and organized a group of former Oakwood seniors. The group attracted many members and at one time had in excess of 190 members. He played in the annual National Retired Military Golf Classic at Myrtle Beach each year until heart surgery in 2019 rendered him unable to play. He said that he never had a hole-in-one, then on June 2, 2014, low and behold, he had his first one and another on October 10 of the same year. Now he will be in one: the columbarium at St. Paul's.

He grew up as a member of Fort Hill Methodist Church and when he and Marianne were married, he was confirmed and became a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, at which he served as a Warden, Vestry member and usher.

A Military Funeral with honors will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 8, 2023, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

If you attend, please wear red, white and blue; he promised a short service as he wanted no one to speak unless they had something nice to say.

In lieu of flowers please consider St. Paul's Episcopal Church or Meals on Wheels or a charity of your choosing.


Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Captain Willard Conrad “Billy” Rhodes, USN, Retired, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Memorial Service

Sunday, October 8, 2023

3:00 - 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

St. Paul's Episcopal Church

605 CLAY STREET, Lynchburg, VA 24502

Military service with honors

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