Sue Earnhardt Rhodes

Published 8:46 pm Wednesday, November 26, 2014



Sue Earnhardt Rhodes of Columbus passed away on Nov. 20, 2014 while visiting her winter home in Costa Rica.

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Sue served as Director of the Polk County Department of Social Services for 22 years, capping a career of 33 years with that agency upon her retirement in October of 2011. Sue began her service to the children and adults of Polk County as a day care teacher, then social worker and social worker supervisor prior to becoming Director. She worked tirelessly to insure that assistance and protection was provided for the most vulnerable of our citizens and was admired by friends, coworkers and community leaders for her dedication to her agency’s mission and to the community.

Sue served on numerous boards and committees working for the betterment of Polk County and was instrumental in starting the Polk Wellness Center. In 2004, she received the Norman H. Boyer Award sponsored by the Polk County Mental Health Advisory Board.

Sue was preceded in death by her husband, Fred E. Rhodes, long-time pastor of Columbus Baptist Church; by her brother, Donald Earnhardt of Jenison, Mich.; and by her parents, Jessie and Virginia Earnhardt of Albemarle, NC. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Judith A. Earnhardt; her nephew, Trenton L. Earnhardt, of Temecula, Calif.; and her niece, Melynda Earnhardt Porter, of San Antonio, Texas.

Sue and Fred lived in Albemarle, N.C. before moving to Columbus when Fred was called as minister to Columbus Baptist. She graduated from Wingate College (AA in Religion), Pfeiffer College (BA in Sociology) and received a Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1978. Sue remained dedicated to Columbus Baptist Church after Fred’s retirement and death and was very active in working with children and youth, singing in the choir and assisting in many other church missions. Sue was an avid reader and enjoyed being around the water and walking the beaches of her beloved Costa Rica, which she visited frequently in her retirement.

A memorial service honoring and celebrating Sue’s life will be held at Columbus Baptist Church on a date and time to be announced in the near future.

Memorials may be made to Columbus Baptist Church, P.O. Box 485, Columbus, N.C. 28722, designated for use to help provide assistance for children in the foster care system through Polk County Department of Social Services.

McFarland Funeral Chapel 

Tryon, N.C.