James Michael “Mike” Rhodes, age 60, of Miles City passed away on Sunday, May 21, 2017 after a five-year battle with cancer. He fought hard and never gave up.
Mike was born on October 17, 1956 in North Platte, Nebraska, the son of William and Sylvia Sue (Fisher) Rhodes. He lived with his family in North Platte until 1960 when his father was transferred to Valentine, Nebraska. Mike grew up in Valentine and attended schools there, graduating from high school in 1975. He attended college in Lincoln, Nebraska where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree. After graduating from college, he moved to Alaska where he worked for three months at a hatchery before moving to Corpus Christi, Texas where he worked for a year and a half. While there he raised salt water fish primarily called Red Drum. He was not fond of Texas and worked a second job at a Circle K store to make extra money so if an opportunity to move came, he had the money to get out. That opportunity came in 1983 when a job opening at the Fish Hatchery in Miles City came open. He said moving to Miles City was the best decision he ever made. He became the manager of the fish hatchery in 1991. He loved his work and enjoyed teaching and educating the kids they would hire for extra help in the summers. Mike traveled all over the United States picking up and delivering fish. Some of the places he went to pick up fish include Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado and Utah to name a few. In Miles City at the hatchery he primarily raised small and large mouth bass, walleye, sauger and at one time sturgeon. He stocked these fish in lakes, rivers and ponds all over the state of Montana with fish from the most southeastern part to the most northwestern part of Montana. During his winters, he worked part time for Blue Rock Distributing and enjoyed his time with his co-workers there.
Mike was a man of many talents. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. He was an exceptional welder and fabricator. He grew a large garden with a variety of vegetables that he shared with many over the years. He loved them, but they seem to get the better of him on numerous occasions. Mike enjoyed the great outdoors and loved his annual elk hunting trips to the Gravelly’s with “the boys.” He had a love/hate relationship with horses and usually ended with an injury on those hunting trips but couldn’t wait to go the next year as those were some of his fondest memories. Mike was lucky enough to draw a moose tag in 1996, the very first year he ever applied. He enjoyed coffee with the boys where they would solve the troubles of the world. Mike loved his family and never missed an event his children were in. His grandchildren were the light of his life and he treasured the time spent watching them grow. He was a good man, friend, husband, and patient and kind dad. He will be missed greatly by his family, friends and colleagues.
Mike is survived by his wife Kellye, daughter, Morgan (Rory) Haughian of Miles City, MT; son Tyler Rhodes of Wyola, MT; son Nate Dunning of Miles City, MT; and daughter Tara Dunning of Billings, MT; his mother Sue Rhodes and brother John Randall (Berniece) Rhodes all of Valentine, NE; his three special grandchildren: Kale Aiden Dunning, Reese Lee Venn and Rheagan James Haughian; his mother-in-law Vada Metzenberg of Glendive, MT; sisters & brothers-in-law: Hassell & Bobbi Painter of Alamogordo, NM; Mike & Diane Metzenberg of Miles City, MT and Denny & Jackie Palmer of Sidney, MT; all his nieces, nephews, cousins, and great nieces and nephews that he held dear to his heart and many dear friends. Mike was preceded in death by his Grandma Marie Fischer who lived with his family and taught him many things like how to fish. He was also preceded in death by his father Bill.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. at the Parlor, 1806 Main Street followed by a barbeque in Mike’s honor. Stevenson & Sons Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.
Should friends desire, memorials may be made to Wake Up & Lace Up, 107 Balsam Dr., Miles City, MT 59301; Meadowlark House c/o St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation, 1106 N. 30th Street, Billings, MT 59101 or to St. Vincent de Paul, 407 Main Street, Miles City, MT 59301.