Memorial service is underway for former Myrtle Beach mayor

 Memorial service is underway for former Myrtle Beach mayor

Hundreds have gathered in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center to say their final goodbyes to former Mayor John Rhodes, who died from COVID-19 complications in January. He was 77.

The private service is set to begin Thursday at 3 p.m. The city will stream the event on its Facebook page.

Rhodes served as mayor for 12 years over three consecutive terms before he was defeated by Mayor Brenda Bethune in a mayoral runoff election in 2017. He had first been elected to city council in 2005.

“John Rhodes had nothing but love for this community, Bethune told The Sun News at the time of his death. “He lived his life to make it better and always did so with humor,” Bethune said in a statement. “Myrtle Beach is a better place because of his leadership.

Rhodes was proud of his many accomplishments as mayor, specifically citing in 2017 the opening of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and SkyWheel, opening and development of The Market Common, building of the Myrtle Beach Sports Center and Savannah’s Playground and implementation of the Tourism Development Fee, which funds out-of-state marketing and tax breaks for residents.

Under his leadership, the city expanded its recreation and athletic facilities, including construction of the Grand Park Athletic Complex and the sports center. Rhodes was the longtime executive director of Beach Ball Classic, a 40-year national tournament for high school basketball teams that is held each December at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, and was part of the tournament since its founding.

City council recently agreed to rename the Myrtle Beach Sports Center to “John T. Rhodes Myrtle Beach Sports Center” in his honor. A sign unveiling ceremony will be held on April 3 at 10 a.m. at the facility. The public is invited.

Editor’s Note: An updated version of this story will be provided following Rhodes’ funeral service.

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