Mr. Robert Allen Rhea (’79, M.S. ’83)

Robert Allen Rhea November 19, 1941 November 08, 2019 Memorial Donation Robert Rhea is preceded in death by his sister Ann Harris and son John Robert Rhea, Jr. Robert is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Mary Rhea. Children: Elizabeth Davis and husband Troy, Kathy Allen and husband Dr. Mark Allen, Leah Lawson and husband Scott. Grandchildren: Matthew, Wesley and Jeffrey Allen; Rachel, Rebecca, Nathon, Seth, Lidia and Andrew Davis; Ellie Marie and Isaac Scott. Siblings: Dalton Rhea and wife Shirley and Carol O’Neil and husband Jim. Great Grandchildren: Brantley and Lilasky. And numerous nieces and nephews. Robert Allen Rhea was the first of four children born to Charles Harry Rhea, Jr and Mary Elizabeth Steele in Fort Worth, TX in 1941. He graduated from W.B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi in 1959. Shortly after graduation, he visited his grandparents in Fort Worth, TX and there he first met Mary Dean Van Schuyver. Robert was immediately smitten by Mary so he decided to move to Fort Worth to attend college and be closer to Mary. He enrolled at Arlington State College (Now UT-Arlington). After 2 years, Mary said yes to his proposal and they were married on September 1, 1961. A few years after graduating UTA, the Rheas were off to Oklahoma which was Mary’s home state. Then the Rheas moved to the Houston area and both started teaching at Aldine ISD. Robert and Mary stayed in the Houston area for many years until the Lord led them to Bryan / College Station and then finally Huntsville. It’s hard to pinpoint when Robert received the Lord but he grew up in a family of believers. He was baptized in high school and later on he became fully consecrated to the Lord and His move. Mary received the Lord after hearing a sermon by Billy Graham and right away desired to attend a church. Mary began attending the same Church of Christ as the Steele family. This is where Robert was introduced to Mary by Grandma Steele. Robert and Mary’s first precious daughter Elizabeth Ann was born while Robert and Mary were still in Arlington. Soon came along beautiful baby Katherine Lea. About 7 years later while living in Houston the Lord blessed the growing family with the lovely Leah Michelle. And finally in 1979, Robert was joined by the second man in the house, John Robert. The family was complete! Robert continued his pursuit of higher education eventually completing 2 bachelor’s degrees, a teaching certificate, a Masters in Technology and worked towards a second Masters in Education in his 60’s. His formal degrees were: B.A. in History from UT-Arlington in 1967. His Teaching Certificate was from University of Houston (U of H) in 1972. Then a B.S. in Technology from U of H in 1979. Next was his M.S. in Technology from U of H in 1983 and finally his work on Masters in Education in 2004 from Sam Houston State. Robert always worked hard to care for the family and the church. His career was mostly in education and drafting. While in Arlington he worked for American Can Co. until his degree was finished. He certainly learned the meaning of hard work at that time. The family lived in Lindsay, OK for 2 years where owned his own hot-tar roofing company. He worked at Aldine ISD from 1970-1974. He then moved to drafting while at Fish Engineering and Construction in Houston from 1974-1976. Other industry jobs included Lumus Co, Texas Pipe Bending Co, Fluor Engineering and Dow Chemical between 1977-2000. Robert started his higher education teaching as a Drafting Instructor at San Jacinto College-North Campus 1976-1977. This lead to his tenured Associate Professor position at U of H between 1977-1997. After “retirement” Robert still continued in education working at Bayes Achievement Center and Texas Department of Corrections. Robert also enjoyed researching and selling various health and wellness products. He co-authored 4 university level textbooks, but he really enjoyed love songs, poetry and short stories. The songs he wrote were about love and marriage. He also enjoyed gardening and who could forget his “almost famous” rose gardens? He really appreciated that the garden is a metaphor for the believers heart (Mt. 13:1-23). He always loved to share whatever he could and whatever he had grown. Around 1971 while working in Aldine, Robert and Mary met the brothers and sisters from the church in Houston. This forever changed the direction of their lives. Here they both faithfully gave themselves to pursue and love the Lord with all their heart and with all their soul and mind and strength (Mk. 12:30). Some dear friends and coworkers of the Lord with Robert and Mary said: “We met Robert and Mary Rhea in the early 1970s. They were brought to a fellowship of Christians through one of their teacher colleagues. Because we were from the same denominational background, it was easy for us to fellowship. They were very seeking believers. Many times Robert would call Joe and spend what seems like hours on the phone to fellowship about how we can go further as Christians. It was most enjoyable to fellowship with such an open and seeking believer who longed to have a deeper relationship with the Lord. While greatly enjoying the fellowship in Houston, we began to feel it would be good for Robert and Mary to see something much bigger. There was a conference planned in Los Angeles over a weekend, and we felt it would be good to attend that conference with them. So we made plans to drive to Los Angeles over a long weekend. Once we were there and so many brothers and sisters from many places were there enjoying the Lord, they began to realize that they were touching something much bigger than they had originally thought. The Lord was faithful to give them a vision of what He was doing on the earth and how we believers, not just being interested in how the Lord is meeting our need, could give ourselves to meet the Lord’s need. In all of the succeeding years, that is what Robert and Mary did, becoming functioning members in the Lord’s Body, always serving the Lord and the saints faithfully, with the goal of raising up a testimony of the Lord that would bring Him back.” (CD) Many have testified how much they were shepherded by brother Robert. Over approximately 6 years in the mid-1970’s Robert and Mary gave housing to over 60 college-age young men in their home. Most of these men today are still loving and pursing the Lord with their own families. He was a pattern in loving and pursuing the Lord to many. In his final days he enjoyed singing hymns with his family and to the Lord. He especially enjoyed 2 hymns: Have Thine own way, Lord ( ) which also Grandma Steels favorite hymn and What a fellowship, what a joy divine, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms! ( ). During this time Robert was very burdened that those around him would know the purpose of their human life and God’s goal for the church. If you would like to hear more about the meaning of your human life or the purpose of your Christian life, please feel free to contact either The Church in Huntsville or Houston. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to: Bibles for America, Or Rhema Literature Distributors,

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