Rhoda Jane Nielson Ashley peacefully departed this life on June 3, 2009. She was 80. She died in her sleep, at home, surrounded by her loving family. She succumbed to cancer after a particularly lengthy and courageous struggle against it spanning several decades and several types. (Our dear Rhoda never liked to be pigeonholed or boring, even in illness.)
Rhoda Jane was born on December 17, 1928 to Joseph Leroy and Marian Gardner Nielson. She was the first of seven children. Rhoda graduated from San Juan High School. She attended the University of Utah on scholarship and graduated with honors in 1950, earning a BS in Education.
She later earned a Masters of Education at Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX. She accomplished this while working full-time and raising four young children on her own.
Rhoda had a long and distinguished career as an educator. She first taught school in her hometown of Blanding, UT. She taught in several locales throughout California.
Diagnosed with an acute case of wanderlust, Rhoda moved to Europe to teach at Department of Defense schools. When single–language curriculum lacked challenge, Rhoda taught bilingual elementary education in Lubbock, TX.
She concluded her career in Spanish Fork, UT. She retired from teaching in1999… before coming out of retirement to teach ESL at the Granite School District Community Education Program.
An adventurous world-traveler, Rhoda finally wed (but didn’t necessarily settle down) in her early 30s. Four children resulted from this union and she is survived in death by them: Marian Frances, Thomas Nielson, Katherine, and James Hodge Ashley. Rhoda is also survived by her seven grandchildren: Nicole Ashley, Jaemin Ashley, Preston Bell, Jaehee Ashley, Jens Ashley, Samuel Bell, and Joseph Ashley and by her siblings Virginia Black, Francis Nielson, and Robert Nielson.
She is preceded in death by her siblings Barbara Ballif, Preston Nielson, and John Nielson.
Rhoda enjoyed a lifelong love of books and learning. She founded, was instrumental in or present at the founding of local book review clubs in every city she lived all over the country. Rhoda travelled extensively throughout the world, visiting and residing in no fewer than four continents.
Rhoda’s love for travel may only be surpassed by her love of politics and her darling grandchildren. Her political subversion started early and convinced her family that if cancer hadn’t taken her, the FBI would have done so.
To the last, Rhoda loved her Heavenly Father. She magnified every calling and rose to every occasion. Her final calling as Hostess at the Joseph Smith Building brought her great joy as she was able to work with her beloved sister, Virginia. She was blessed and honored in life with a wonderful family and friends. She will be greatly missed.
Funeral services were held on June 8, 2009. Interment will be in Blanding, UT.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations in her name to the LDS Perpetual Education Fund.