Obituaries for August 7, 2014

Union Democrat staff

Obituary policy

Obituaries, including photos, are published at a pre-paid fee based on size. The deadline is 5 p.m. two business days prior to publication. Call 532-7151, fax 532-5139 or send to .

Memorial ads are published at a pre-paid fee based on size. The deadline is noon two business days prior to publication. Please call 588-4555 for complete information.

Jon Robert Cavaiani

Aug. 2, 1943 - July 29, 2014

Jon Robert Cavaiani passed away on July 29, 2014. He was born on Aug. 2, 1943 in Murphys, Ireland, and moved to Tuolumne County in 2001.

Jon is survived by his wife, Barbara Elf, two daughters and five grandchildren.

Jon was a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor, for his service as a platoon leader in Vietnam in 1971. Jon achieved the rank of sergeant major before retiring from the military in 1990.

Jon was a prominent figure among the large veteran population of the Sierra Foothills as well as nationally. He was honored as the grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade at Columbia State Historic Park in 2006 and elected as the Mother Lode Roundup's honorary town marshal in 2008.

A celebration of life will be held at the Elks Lodge in the fall.

Funeral services will be held at Reilly Funeral Home in Philadelphia with burial to take place at Arlington National Cemetery. Funeral and burial dates are still pending.

Donations may be made to The Special Forces Charitable Trust, P.O. Box 5, Essex, CT 06426 or the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation of Philadelphia at: MCLEF, P.O. Box 11653, Philadelphia, PA 19116 or via

Harvey B. 'Dusty' Rhodes

Feb. 15, 1918 – Aug. 4, 2014

Harvey "Dusty" Rhodes, the founding president of Columbia Community College, passed away peacefully at his home on Phoenix Lake in Sonora, Calif., after a long and accomplished life. He was 96.

Born to Irene (Canale) and Harry A. Rhodes, he grew up on a family ranch near Tracy, Calif., and lived with his grandparents during the week in nearby Banta, where he attended elementary school. He graduated from Tracy High School in 1935 and San Jose State University in 1940, where he was captain of the baseball team, chairman of social affairs, and earned a degree in biological science. He later received a master's degree from the University of Southern California and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Rhodes joined the U.S. Navy in December 1941, days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and served his country in the South Pacific during World War II. He remained in the Naval Reserves until 1970, during which time he rose to the rank of commander and helped form the Central Valley Naval Reserve unit.

After returning to California following the war, Rhodes began a successful career in education. He worked more than a decade at Modesto High School as a teacher, coach, dean, and vice principal. He later joined the faculty of Modesto Junior College as director of continuing education, and then moved to Tuolumne County as the founding president of Columbia College near Sonora. He retired from his position at the college in 1979.

Upon retirement, Rhodes remained an active member of the community in numerous organizations, including the Sonora Lions Club, Sons in Retirement, Tuolumne County Historical Society, Association of California School Administrators, and Yosemite Natural History Association. He loved the San Francisco Giants, world travel, food and wine, and spending time with his family.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his oldest son, Gary H. Rhodes; and grandson, John G. Rhodes.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Patricia Hertert Rhodes; daughter Sandra Rhodes Conti (Richard), son Gregory Rhodes (Sally); six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Contributions can be made in his memory to the Columbia College Foundation Scholarship Fund, 11600 Columbia College Drive, Sonora, CA 95370.

A celebration of life is pending.

Death notices

Death Notices in The Union Democrat are published free of charge. They include the name, age and town of residence of the deceased, the date of death; service information; and memorial contribution information. The deadline is noon the day before publication.


GARDNER - Robert King Gardner, 88, of Sonora, died Friday at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. He was a World War II veteran, having served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. No services are ​planned. Memorial contributions can be made to a hospice of choice. ​His body was donated to University of California, San Francisco.

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