Wednesday, November 9, 2011
A TRIBUTE TO RHONDA H. SHOOK, WRITTEN BY HIS SISTER, JOYCE SHOOK WILSON
Here it is November, a time to remember and be thankful for those who have been so special to us. We are so grateful to have Rhonda in our lives; his memory is with us always.
His early years on the farm were very hard but filled with adventures with brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends, which he recounted with such joy. Farm life was very hard from killing a hog in early winter or taking care of the farm animals or putting up hay to tending the garden and canning.
His best friend was Willie Rupard whose venture into the Army delighted Rhonda so much. Willie couldn’t see in one eye so Rhonda stood behind him and told him the answers on the vision test. Rhonda’s time overseas was spent at one time guarding prisoners and at times being a driver, but some things he didn’t share so much. They came back from overseas about the same time, which brought tears to his eyes. He couldn’t reconcile his feelings when Willie passed away a year before Rhonda.
Rhonda had a special horse that took him by buggy to movies in Banner Elk. He hitched the horse outside, saw the movie, and as he got in the buggy would say, “go home,” and the horse went home; sometimes Rhonda even went to sleep.
One time he, Audrey, and Pauline went to the store and bought cold drinks, (Audrey’s first Dr. Pepper) and Rhonda charged them to Daddy. They went home and told Mama who immediately gave them money and made them go back and pay.
He also related that sometimes walking at the end of Pigeon Roost Road, he would soak his feet in a ladies spring and drink the milk that was sitting in the spring.
In 1950 he and Gert came to Maryland and began their lives together with nothing. He would ask for odd jobs, walk 4 or 5 miles, doing the best work he could, which led to other jobs. One of his favorite stories was accidentally letting a borrowed car run off the hill into their outhouse; a wrecker has to rescue the vehicle. He borrowed a car from a Catholic church, took out the back seat, drove to a lumber mill, and filled the car to the brim with wood scraps, which they used for heating and cooking. One of his jobs was hanging dry wall and that led to him building his own dry wall business; at one time it was the most successful dry wall business in Maryland. Once they could afford a bigger house, they began a lifetime of letting different people live with them until they could live on their own. The giving never stopped.
Rhonda loved his sons, Gary and Ronnie, who worked with him and saw the good and bad of hard work and business. Some tolls he regretted but wanted to give the best to his family. Some men who worked for him for about 30 years honored him as their best friend and teacher. His work ethic was non-stop, getting the next contract, taking care of his employees, and especially providing for his family. He was the taskmaster at its’ best—doing the right thing!!
One of Rhonda’s greatest accomplishments was building a church, taking a year out of his work to get it built. His final service was held there. He also sponsored a church in Puerto Rico. He bought old school buses, had them repaired, took them to the Baltimore port, and shipped them to the church there. He and Gert also donated much to building a part of Liberty University. He had rental properties in Baltimore and made sure Gert bought gifts for the children at Christmas.
In addition to the dry wall business he owned a building supply store, until retirement neared, and big companies like Home Depot came into vogue. When going out of business, he could have given his suppliers a percentage amount by law, but no, Rhonda made sure that his suppliers received the full amount for their products. What an example for all of us!
Rhonda took great pride in the farm, always having a big garden with plenty to share and can, caring for his horses, chickens, ducks, geese, oh, those goats, whose babies had to be cared for by hand, and a peacock which took a flight to Annapolis but was found after a plea on TV. He had a pet ferret, which followed him everywhere through the fields and came running at the sound of his voice. How sad when the ferret died. We can hear him laughing now recounting how his Mastiff dog sent some young folks climbing on the barn roof in the middle of the night, and he had to get them down. That dog was big as a horse but gentle as a lamb with Rhonda. Most of the time he had German Shepards as guard dogs.
Rhonda loved his family and worried so much about them. After making trips “down home” he couldn’t wait to get back to Gert. He worried so much about her. His grandchildren and his great granddaughter filled his and Gert’s life with pride and joy.
Rhonda was very patriotic and proud of his WWII service in the Army. In his last months, after making his bed in the morning, he would put two flags, his Army cap and pictures at the foot of his bed. Rhonda, we love you and miss you more than words can say and treasure your memory always…