Remembering Jeff Rhoden
By Jeff Rhoden
via his LinkedIn Profile
After a two week battle with COVID, 49 year old Jeff Rhoden passed away. He is survived by his wife and 4 children and left a huge hole in southern Oregon. Jeff was a community minded Telecommunications Business Entrepreneur and will be greatly missed. Below is his self bio from his LinkedIn profile.
I was raised in the Rogue Valley, graduated from Ashland High School and went on to earn a BA in Business Administration/Marketing from Southern Oregon University (SOSC at the time) in 1994.
After graduating, I teamed up with longtime friend, Scott Hansen, to form a telecommunications brokerage, GCW Communication Consultants. GCW had expanded at this point to encompass a full suite of telecom products for our customers and was continuing to grow. In 2000 we additionally accepted positions with Rio Networks, a completive local exchange carrier (CLEC). Rio was at that time, one of the first statewide facilities based private phone companies in Oregon.
After nearly a 3 year stint with Rio, we joined together in 2003 with longtime friend and NFL veteran Chad Cota to form Prime Time Ventures, LLC and purchased InfoStructure, a longstanding and reputable ISP in Southern Oregon and began its transformation into a CLEC. We still maintain GCW and some of its agent channel activities, but our primary focus is building InfoStructure, its client base and service offerings which has transitioned from traditional copper based telecom services to SIP/VoIP, Hosted PBX and SD-WAN.
InfoStructure has grown into a flourishing telecom and internet service provider and in July of 2013 completed the acquisition of Rio Networks – the same company which inspired our endeavor into the telecom industry. Serving thousands of customers throughout Oregon as well as across the US, we’ve grown steadily and profitably, even through economic downturns, to become the reputable telecommunications enterprise we are known as today.
I’ve also partnered with Scott and Chad in other endeavors – most recently the drive-thru specialty coffee business, where together we own and operate The Human Bean of Reno with three successful locations in Reno, NV. Chad and I bought out Scott’s Human Bean shares at the end of 2017 and are currently building two new locations – one in Reno and one in Sparks, NV. Plans are currently in place to build an additional 4 locations in and around Reno over the next 3 years.
Through perseverance and dedication with ample doses of integrity and faith, I’ve accomplished a high level of success in business and still have the drive and ability to continue in that success and strive for more.
My most recent venture, is EvoBird Apparel & Design – an athleisure focused clothing company focusing on athletes and sports fans alike. Check it out at www.evobirdapparel.com
CLEC Operations Management
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffrhoden, retrieved: August 10, 2021
After a two week battle with COVID, my friend, fellow local businessperson, Jeff Rhoden, has passed away.
This was a couple of days ago. I have been struggling how to process it since. He just turned 49 and leaves behind a supermodel wife and 4 beautiful children.
The family has asked for privacy and someone setup a GoFundMe (https://gofund.me/157a2315) for them. I haven’t been able to sleep well since and I’m writing this with hopes that it gives me a little closure and that one day his family may stumble upon it and find peace in my words about how much Jeff was loved and how much he loved back. It might be a little long and there will be irony in that because Jeff always made fun of me for how long my posts were. Always.
My last text to him was during the fair. I had a favor to ask and he was quick to respond. I was stunned when I got the call the morning after he passed away. My mind scrambled. I didn’t know how to process this.
I texted a friend that has been dealing with his own life threatening health issues and I asked him if I could visit and just check in. I felt bad because I haven’t made the time to visit yet. We had a nice visit and I promised to be a better friend and we hugged deeply and strongly like manly men do and I made the wrong turn when I left the parking lot.
Without thinking I drove away from home, toward Klamath Falls, toward the smoke, around winding roads faster and faster, testing my car’s handling abilities.
It reminded me of a time that Jeff and I raced near Portland on the way to a telecommunications conference (truth is I drove the speed limit in my sub compact rental car and he zoomed past me, honking, while hands free laugh talking on the phone to me, in a convertible, while waving goodbye). I got to Klamath Falls and saw that the county fair was going on, so I parked and paid to go in. I thought I could get lost in the crowd and figure this out, but people kept recognizing me and wanting to talk. I wasn’t very good company. It’s not even my fair, but they knew me from my talks about future proofing the fair at a national conference a couple of years ago.
I saw big tractors and carnival rides and kids having fun and it reminded me of all the times Jeff would run into me at our fair. Always with his family in tow. He loved everything you find at fairs. He loved Oregon State Sports, playing baseball, monster trucks (the louder the better) and he loved, loved, loved his cute little bronco truck thing. It started raining as I walked back to the car and I sat there watching my filthy windshield become opaque as I desperately tried to clear my head.
After the rain stopped and I wiped my windshield with a dirty napkin, so that I could see out of it again, I drove slowly toward home. Upon arriving I sent emails out about Jeff’s passing to groups that we both belong to. And then I compartmentalized my feelings and went to the Art Authority 5 year celebration and sat and watched as the world went on. I got home, completely spent and sat in the dark and started to process the news and looked for photos I have taken of him over the years.
And I couldn’t find any on facebook, but I know they are there. (I found them and they are now part of this story along with images in my texts from him.)
He graduated from Ashland High School and attended Southern Oregon University. He and his business partner, Speck, bought a local ISP, Mind.Net, and rebranded it Infostructure and turned it into a phone company. They have grown the business over the years into a larger, regional provider of telecommunication services.
We knew each other through that work.He provided phone service and was also an AFN ISP, just like my company, Ashland Home Net. Telecommunications companies are notoriously competitive. We were not. In fact one day they decided to focus on business customers only and regional phone service and sold me their residential internet service.
Over the years Jeff and I became friends. Not the kind that hung out together. The kind that texted each other. A lot. I scrolled through my text messages with him for the last couple of years and there are thousands. He was always reaching out and trying to help others. “I have a friend that needs internet, can you help them?”Of course, I would say. And he would send me back an emoticon of him being happy. “Can you get the Bronco Repair shop internet in 24 hours but only for a month or two until I get fiber there?”
Of course, I would reply. And again I was blessed with a new different emoticon.
These emoticons were cartoon caractitures of him waving or giving me a high five or just smiling. And sometimes, he would reach out to let me know that he ran into my family. One time he and his family toured Oregon State and they ran into Teague while she was getting her masters in Teaching, and was in charge of a building, or the one time he came home to find my sister at his house for a meeting with his wife and took a selfie with her to send to me. Those photos mean the world to me.
He was family. Ohana.
He was also always telling me that he loved me, even though I don’t think said it back, at least not as often as he said it. It wasn’t weird and It wasn’t just me.
He loved everyone and he wasn’t afraid of letting them know. He was strong with his faith and never once came across preachy to me on any subject.
He only once asked me to read a book, which I did and sent him a deep dive book report on it when he asked me what I thought. His only reply was an emoticon and a “I love you, Jim, you make me laugh”.
One of the greatest things we did together was give back. He would reach out and ask me to make a donation to different organizations and causes knowing that I always would. If it was important to him, it was important to me. We did a lot of good for others together. His heart was huge. Almost as big as his smile.
And we got into trouble together many times too. He was mischievous at times and loved to be a smart alek. One time I was giving a talk to his rotary group and he heckled me from the back. It’s how he rolled. And sometimes, he and other companies would get a little too competitive and communication would break down between them and he would let me bring them both to the table and buy a couple rounds of drinks so they could work it out.
I was his nerdy friend. He laughed out loud at me all the time. I did things that he thought were crazy. I’ll miss that laugh. He would laugh at my long posts, telling me he didn’t have time to read them.
I’m sure he is in heaven right now, rolling his eyes at this one.
I sent him a text the morning after the fire and asked if his building made it and offered for him and his team to relocate to my building at no charge, if they needed it. He just replied with a photo of his building completely engulfed in flames. It didn’t make it, but everyone was ok.
One photo I found in my texts was of his youngest son loving on Burt the Farm Dog rolled over on his back happily receiving the love. He just dropped by our farm to say hi and I wasn’t home and he was showing me what a great watch dog I had. He will be missed by thousands.
His impact on life in Southern Oregon will be felt for decades to come. His love for his family inspired everyone that got to see it in person. I am sad, but thankful that for many years, we had many laughs and did many good things for others together. Rest in peace my friend. I love you.