In April, the city of Copperas Cove named a new park and a road after longtime resident Ed Rhode.
Once constructed, Edgar Way will lead into the 8-acre Edgar H. Rhode Park located within the developing Skyline Flats subdivision.
“I didn’t know they named a park after me ... this is news to me,” said Rhode, sitting at his dining room table last week.
Rhode, 94, still answers his front door wearing a crisp shirt and tie. A tall man with clear blue eyes and a full head of white hair, Rhode lives with his younger sister, Phyllis Pinnow, in a large house near the center of Cove.
Rhode has lived with his family in Copperas Cove for more than 60 years.
Born and raised on a farm in Nebraska, he enlisted in the Army in 1939 and moved to the area a few years later when Cove was just a few hundred people and a mess of dirt roads.
“Copperas Cove was built for family living; that was its motto for a long time, and I had a lot of functions in my backyard,” Rhode said, recalling the many military dinners he hosted to promote Copperas Cove. “We’d have to call the weather station beforehand to make sure it wasn’t going to rain, and then we’d have to put up tents.”
Rhode’s famous military affairs dinners took place in his backyard for decades, and only recently stopped after the death of his wife of 66 years, Lorette. The dinners were full of service members and officials from the city, he said, and there was music and drinks and occasionally he’d cook steaks.
Rhode was a founding member of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee. He said the dinners did a great deal to attract people to the area.
An honored and active resident, Rhode spent six years in the Army, where he rose to the rank of captain. He received the Army’s Public Service Commanders Award and Fort Hood’s Good Neighbor Award, among many others. He also served as mayor and councilman, chaired the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and was the president of the area’s American Red Cross and the Association of the U.S. Army chapter.
The Edgar H. Rhode Technical Library at Fort Hood carries his name.
Copperas Cove spokesman Kevin Keller said the park is open but needs some work. It currently functions as a soccer field.
“I truly believe people have a good sense of altruism and some have a great sense of altruism. Mr. Rhode is an example of the latter,” Keller said. “He served Copperas Cove well for many years. His accomplishments speak well of him and of the city in recognizing his efforts.
“I am sure he would tell you that you do not give to receive recognition or naming rights. But I guess some people will feel that if they do enough, then they could have a lasting tribute in the city, too.”