Serving His Community

By Peter McKinnon

Throughout his life, Edgar (Ned) Rhodes, who passed away earlier this year at age 82, served the community through volunteerism and philanthropy. His generous spirit lives on through the significant donations he made in his will to several charities, including the Perley Health Foundation, a favourite cause.

“Community service was a big part of dad’s life,” says son Chris Rhodes. “He knew that support from the community contributed to his business success and he was determined to give back in kind.”

Service to community has been a constant in the Ottawa branch of the Rhodes family for several generations; so too has the name Edgar. In 1908, Edgar Nelson Rhodes—the late Ned’s grandfather—moved to Ottawa after he was first elected to Parliament. His stellar career in politics included stints as Speaker of the House and Premier of Nova Scotia, along with a 1935 appointment to the Senate of Canada. In 1940, his son, who carried the same name but was better known as E.N. Rhodes, founded Rhodes & Company Real Estate, one of Ottawa’s most successful and enduring real-estate firms. E.N.’s son Ned Rhodes joined the firm in 1957. Two years later, he married Elizabeth (Liz) Coate and they raised three children.

In 1969, Ned Rhodes accepted the first in a long string of volunteer leadership positions when he was named president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board—the youngest in the organization’s history. He later served as Chairman of Ashbury College, President of the Royal Ottawa Golf Club and Director of the Perley Health Foundation. Ned Rhodes was a major contributor to the campaign to build the Perley Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre.

In 1996, the Health Centre amalgamated the Perley Hospital—a provincially funded facility—with the Rideau Veterans Home and the Veterans wing of National Defence Medical Centre—federal facilities that provided other types of care. The amalgamation was unprecedented and set Perley Health on its current path of evolving continually to better serve the community. The Perley Health Foundation raises funds in support of Perley Health.

“Dad’s grandmother, mother and father had all once been patients at the Perley Hospital,” says son Chris Rhodes. “And I know Dad was always impressed by the care provided there. When plans were announced to amalgamate three facilities, he immediately became a big champion. I wasn’t surprised to learn that he remembered Perley Health in his will.”

Ned Rhodes was an avid outdoorsman who particularly loved fly-fishing and downhill skiing. The family often spent time together at their cabin in the Gatineau Hills and a summer cottage on Lake Rosseau. Eventually, they were blessed with five grandchildren.

“Dad was also something of a gentleman farmer,” says son Chris. “He spent many happy afternoons on his tractor cutting fields.”

Chris Rhodes followed in his father’s footsteps both professionally—as a sales representative with the firm now known as Coldwell Banker Rhodes & Company—and altruistically, by donating to charity and volunteering for events such as Hospice Care Ottawa’s Homes for the Holidays fundraising tour.[1]

Ned Rhodes’ gift-in-will to the Perley Health Foundation helps to ensure that the Health Centre continues to deliver top-quality care to residents and Veterans. The Rhodes family spirit of community service lives on.