James A. Rhodes Memorial
Backstory and Context
James A. Rhodes was born in Coalton, Ohio on September 13, 1909. He attended school in the nearby city of Jackson. While he was very young, his father died, and his mother told the family that all they were going to know from then on was hard work. Indeed, Rhodes worked as a janitor and turned peanuts in the roaster at the local ice cream shop, Michael's Ice Cream, as a child. Rhodes never forgot his childhood in Jackson: For his 89th birthday, Rhodes returned to Michael’s and served customers. And when the Jackson City Schools were looking for a new mascot, he wrote to one of the local newspapers and suggested that the new mascot should be the Ironmen, in honor of Jackson's long history in the iron industry.
Rhodes served his first eight-year term
from 1963 to 1971 and his second from 1975 to 1983. During those times, he expanded
the state university system to include twelve schools and established the Ohio
vocational school system, building forty-nine facilities. He was one of the
founders of the Pan-America Games and Rhodes's Raiders, a team that traveled
the world enticing businesses to locate themselves in Ohio. He was the first
governor to lead a trade mission to China. He also led
the way in building Ohio's part of the Appalachian highway system, without
which the two main lanes
of traffic north to south and east to west would not exist.