A Tale of Two Families
Sally and Verne Rhoades Jr.
In July 1916, two tropical
storms passed through Asheville, resulting in widespread property damage and
loss of life, including that of beloved native son W.T. Weaver.
Sixteen years earlier, Weaver, a former
Asheville postmaster, president of the street railway system and head of the
National Bank of Asheville, founded W.T. Weaver Power Company on the banks
of the French Broad River. When the storms and floods threatened his young
company, W.T. and his crews worked around the clock to save it. They averted
disaster, but W.T. fell ill and died that November, leaving his wife, Annie,
and daughter, Dorothea.
Dorothea embodied her father's tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit. She attended Asheville School for
Girls and Converse College. After graduation, Dorothea returned to Asheville
to work with the American Red
Cross and the YWCA of Asheville. In 1925-26, she was the youngest YWCA
president in the nation.
Meanwhile, Missouri native Verne Rhoades made his way across the
country to attend the nation's first school of forestry, the Biltmore Forest
School. After graduating with a degree as forest engineer, Verne worked as a
purchasing agent for southeastern lumber companies and federal government,
helping establish Pisgah National Forest,
the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, and the
Cradle of Forestry.
He and Dorothea Weaver married in 1926, and
built a home near Dorothea's mother, Annie, on the Merrimon Avenue property.
During their 43-year marriage, they had three children: Verne Jr., William
and Anne. As adults, William headed to the West Coast; Anne married and
moved to Toronto; and Verne Jr. moved to the Southwest where he worked as a
physicist with Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Verne Jr. and
his wife, Sally Lewis Rhoades, returned to Asheville in 1974, settling into
the family home and continuing the Weaver\Rhoades tradition of civic
engagement and environmental stewardship. They volunteered on countless
boards, including the Historic Tree Commission,
Asheville Symphony and French Broad River Garden Club.
Since Verne Jr.'s death in 2007, Sally maintains the family's dedication to
generosity and community service.