Sally Rhoads, dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, and civic leader who worked hard to improve the lives of people in New Paltz, died August 11, 2020, after a long illness. She was born September 16, 1944, in Butler, PA, the daughter of Thomas W. Miller, a Boy Scout executive and fundraiser, and Almira G. Miller, a housewife. She grew up in the suburbs of Harrisburg, PA, and graduated in 1962 from Central Dauphin High School where she was a class officer, played field hockey, was in the color guard, and sometimes rode with a gang of friends in Bill Rhoads’s Jeep. In 1964 she graduated from Bradford (MA) Junior College; transferring to Connecticut College for Women (now Connecticut College). She graduated in 1966 with a degree in Psychology. On June 25, 1966, she married William B. Rhoads at Mount Calvary Episcopal Church in Camp Hill, PA. They spent the next four years in Princeton, NJ, where Sally worked for Opinion Research Corporation and earned a master’s degree in Educational Psychology at Rutgers University.
In 1970 Sally and Bill moved to New Paltz with their infant daughter Sarah; daughter Anne would be born in 1974. Newly arrived in New Paltz, Sally quickly became active in the Reformed Church, League of Women Voters, and Faculty Wives. Most importantly, she was elected to several terms on the New Paltz Board of Education, including a number of years as Board President. She served as Director of Christian Education at the Reformed Church and found joy in nurturing children, whether in the church classroom, as Brownie and Girl Scout leader and Duzine elementary classroom volunteer, or at Halloween celebrations in her yard at home where, transformed by ghoulish, self-applied makeup, she attracted hundreds of kids for candy treats. Starting with her role as Pinocchio in children’s theater at Bradford, Sally enjoyed the theater and supported local theatrical performances.
Sally, herself a lover of antiques and old books, may be best known for using her organizational skills to create the monumental used book section of Elting Memorial Library’s annual fair, which she led for 35 years. She took justifiable pride in this and in her successful effort, when President of Elting’s Board, to raise the funds and build the major addition to Elting. Sally was a true problem solver and optimist no matter the scale of the issue: when experts said this community could not carry out such a costly transformation of the library, Sally, with the help of supporters she encouraged, proved them wrong; when a lamp stopped working at home, Sally figured out how to repair it. She completed her service to New Paltz as an elected Village Trustee. In all of these causes, she was inspired by the energy and spirit of community-minded women, including Karen Conner, Jean Green, Norma Mabee, Mary Jane Ordway, and Carol Roper and hoped to similarly inspire the generation that came after her.
Sally is survived by her husband Bill, daughters Sarah Bruce and Anne Rhoads, and their husbands Mike Bruce and Jay Goodman, as well as grandchildren Michael, Alyssa, Camilla, and Nathanael Bruce; and Samuel and Laurel Rhoads-Goodman. Sally’s sister, Judy Goodman, also survives.
Burial will be private in the New Paltz Rural Cemetery, with arrangements by Copeland-Hammerl Funeral Home. A memorial event will be scheduled in the future. Sally’s family suggests that donations in her memory be made to Elting Memorial Library, or that, moved by the example of her volunteerism, we make a gift of time and energy to our favorite good cause.