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Fair Lawn Man Dies in Motorcycle Accident

Jerry Rhodes died Saturday in a motorcycle accident in Sussex County, police said.

(Ed. Note: A previous version of this story stated that the Vander Plaat-Caggiano Funeral Home was located in Saddle Brook, rather than Fair Lawn.)

Jerry Rhodes, a Fair Lawn resident who previously worked as the director of both the Paramus and the Parsippany Public Works Departments, died over the weekend while riding his motorcycle in Sussex County.

Rhodes, 62, was killed after his motorcycle crashed into a vehicle trying to make an illegal U-turn on Route 94 in Hardyston, according to police.

Hardyston Police said Rhodes was driving his 2003 Harley Davidson southbound when he ran into a southbound 2007 Ford Expedition SUV being driven by 42-year-old Jason DeLeeuw, of Hamburg, Saturday at about 1:30 p.m.

DeLeeuw was issued summonses for making an improper turn and careless driving, police said. Three children were passengers in DeLeeuw's SUV at the time of the accident and were not hurt, police said.

Rhodes was pronounced dead at St. Clare’s Hospital Saturday afternoon, according to police.

Marge Woelk, administrative assistant to current Parsippany DPW Director Greg Schneider, remembered Rhodes as a quiet person who handled a big job. She said that during Rhodes' tenure with the local public works department in the early to mid-'90s , the town made the switch from using private-sector garbage and recycling pickup to the township-operated service that is in place today.

"He kept to himself," Woelk told Patch. "He did his job and did it well. This news is really sad."

After leaving the Parsippany DPW in the mid-1990s, Rhodes worked in the sales department of Fairview-based Cliffside Body Corp. Before his stint in Parsippany, Rhodes spent 19 years as the head of the Paramus Department of Public Works. Rhodes also was a veteran of the U.S. Army who served during the Vietnam era.

Just last year, Rhodes lost his wife, Joyce Fontana Rhodes, to illness. He is survived by their sons Christopher and Phillip, daughter-in-law Melissa and granddaughter, Lilly.

The Vander Plaat-Caggiano Funeral Home in Fair Lawn said it is handling burial arrangements. The family will receive relatives and friends Wednesday 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the funeral parlor, 13-31 Saddle River Road in Fair Lawn. A funeral mass is set for Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Philip the Apostle Roman Catholic Church, 488 Saddle River Road.

The family asked that donations in memory of Jerry Rhodes be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

Barbara Addon November 29, 2011 at 03:33 PM
The Vander Plaat-Caggiano Funeral Home is in Fair Lawn, not Saddle Brook.
Zak Koeske November 29, 2011 at 05:36 PM
Thanks, Barbara. I've updated the story.
SnoopyRN50 November 30, 2011 at 02:23 AM
Jerry Rhodes was killed by Jason DeLeeuw as Mr. DeLeeuw made an illegal u-turn in MY driveway, an incident that occurs on a daily basis despite the fact that my driveway is located at the foot of a very hairy curve and hill on a road with a speed limit of 45mph, which NO ONE obeys! I e-mailed the paper about this accident (of which they had no prior knowledge) in the hopes that they would print the facts of the accident and that I am trying to get the state to reduce the speed limit to 35 and to put a no u-turn sign at or near my driveway. The writers of the article obviously didn't care about this, though, as they didn't print one detail that I told them about this tragic event. I have spoken to the Hardyston police about this, but have so far just been given the royal run-around treatment by them. I did everything I could for this poor man, who was totally prepared and dressed for riding a motorcycle, while he lay in the street at the foot of my driveway. I am a retired RN and EMT, and I knew that he was basically killed instantly and didn't suffer, which is the only comfort I have about this tragic accident. Now I have a daily reminder as cars and trucks continue to speed past my house and some still make illegal u-turns in my driveway, as well as the yellow paint marks in the road where the motorcycle and Expidition came to a stop. May Jerry rest in Peace, and may God be with him and his family. I never knew Jerry in life, but I will never forget him.
Sinful November 30, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Thank you for being there to comfort our brother rider during his last moments. My friends and I are trying to figure out why this driver will not be charged with Manslaughter over the drivers Stupidity of making an illegal u turn!!!!!! If it was someone walking and a car killed them, I believe there would be more serious charges!!!!!
Pat Murphy July 26, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I hope you get this reply as this is an old article. The driver that hit and killed Jerry Rhodes was a bus driver for Lakeland (as well as several other bus lines) for 10 years. He also drove school children. He was a VERY irresponsible driver. Believe it or not he would actually fall asleep driving the bus. I kid you not. He would use jalapeno peppers to make his eyes tear to try and keep him awake. He was a hazard on wheels. However, I did hear that the night that he had court (for this accident) he had a stroke and/or a heart attack and was in a coma. As my mom would say, God works in mysterious ways.

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