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This is the fourteenth volume in the series of Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased.
BY FAZLE HUSSAIN
ALLEN FRANKLIN RHODES was born in Estherville, Iowa, on October 3, 1924, son of the late Esther Butler Rhodes and Edwin James Rhodes. He was a lifelong resident of Houston, except for 10 winters north during the height of his business career.
A graduate of Lamar High School, he held a B.S.M.E. from Rice and Villanova universities and an M.B.A. from the University of Houston. From 1943 to 1946, Allen Rhodes was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, serving as a torpedo bomber pilot aboard the aircraft carrier CVE Vella Gulf in the North Pacific.
He began his career in 1947 with Hughes Tool Company as assistant to the director of engineering. He later joined McEvoy Company, where he served as director of engineering, vice president of engineering and manufacturing, and president at the time of its merger with Rockwell Manufacturing Company in 1963. Joining Rockwell as general manager of the Houston plant, he moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1964 to assume the position of vice president of research and engineering. There he organized Rockwell’s first central research laboratory.
In 1971 he became vice president of corporate planning and development for ACF Industries, Inc., in New York City. After three years he returned to Houston to accept the position of president and chief executive officer of McEvoy Oilfield Equipment Company, a newly formed division of Rockwell International.
After retiring in 1979, he joined Warren Oilfield Services Company as president and executive vice president of Goldrus Marine Drilling Company, both divisions of the Warren-King Companies. During 1983–1986, he was recruited to carry out a Chapter 11 reorganization for Anglo Energy (now Nabors Drilling) in New York, followed by serving as president and chief executive officer of Gripper, Inc., and later as chief financial officer of Hydrotech Systems. He joined Silver Fox Advisors, after retiring a second time, as a mentor to small businesses and entrepreneurs and later served as adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston.
He was a trustee of Southwest Research Institute and a member of the board of the Houston Humane Society, as well as a former member of the board of directors of Triten Corporation, Keystone International, Rawson-Koenig, Inc., Dime Box Historical Society, and the George Lehmann Animal Shelter.
Allen Rhodes held 22 U.S. patents in oil and gas production equipment and was the author of numerous major technical publications. He was best known nationally for his service to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) as its 89th president, the youngest person to hold this office at the time of his election. He also served as vice president of its Policy Board, Industry Department, and Standing Committee on Transportation and as chairman of the Petroleum Division and the South Texas Section. He was an appointed public member and chairman of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Gas Pipeline Safety Standards Committee in Washington, D.C., and served as chairman of the ASME Committee on Safety and Pollution Prevention Equipment used in offshore oil and gas operations. He was a past chairman of the Committee on Finance, a member of the B16 Committee on Standardization of Valves, chairman of the ASME Foundation, and an honorary member of ASME International.
Allen Rhodes was a fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Great Britain) and a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME, American Management Association, National Academy of Engineers, and Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society. He served as vice president and director of the American National Standards Institute, director and president of the Engineers’ Council of Houston, and president of the Houston Engineering and Scientific Society.
He received the Robert Henry Thurston Award from ASME, the Howard Coonley Medal from the American National Standards Institute, and the Richards Memorial Award from Pi Tau Sigma and the American National Standards Institute. He was presented the first OilDrop Award, which now carries the name of the Rhodes OilDrop Award, which is given annually for outstanding service to the Petroleum Division of ASME. He was also awarded the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award by Villanova University.
Allen was an avid sailor, participating for many years in the Southern Ocean Racing Circuit. He won his first medal in sailing competition at age 9. His lifelong interest in sailing was attested to by an extensive collection of books on the subject.
He was a member of Chapelwood United Methodist Church, River Oaks Country Club, Rotary International, The Breakfast Association, Nomads, The Lamar 41ers, and Sons of the American Revolution.
Allen Rhodes was highly regarded by all of his professional associates and friends as a man of integrity, honesty, and fairness. A man for all seasons, he was as at home at the White House as he was working cattle at his beloved Rancho Nueces in Dime Box, Texas.
Carol Rhodes, Allen’s widow, wrote, “Allen’s life consisted of his work and his family, but not necessarily in that order. He put his work ahead of everything else when it needed to be, but his family never felt they had come in second. He was very aware that his work provided him with intellectual and financial security but that this family provided him with emotional security and love—which in the end is the most important of all.”
Allen married his wife, Carol J. (Haisler) Rhodes, in 1962. His relatives include sons Stephen Haisler Rhodes and wife Yvonne of Houston and James Fleming Rhodes and wife Sheryl of Austin; adopted daughter Pury Vergara Reyes and husband Santos Jr. of Houston; granddaughter Susan Sheryl Rhodes of Austin; grandson Robert Allen Rhodes of Austin; and grandsons Ernesto David Reyes and Alex Antonio Reyes of Houston. His brother is Edwin James Rhodes and his wife, Dr. E. C. Henley of Athens, Georgia; sister-in-law Kathy Haisler Radde and husband Kenneth of Meridan, Texas; nephews Karl Radde and wife Melissa of North Zulch, Texas, and Clayton Rhodes and wife Annie of Mansfield, Ohio; nieces Elizabeth (Rhodes) Eck and husband David of Marietta, Georgia, and Anna Radde of Meridian, Texas; and cousins Ida Jo (Butler) Moran and husband Tom of Brenham, Texas, Maxine (Butler) Cochran and husband Donald of Houston, and Anne (Butler) Leonard of Roaring Gap, North Carolina.