Roslyn G. Babbit 'Babs' Rhodes, 84, volunteer

Roslyn G. Babbit "Babs" Rhodes
Roslyn G. Babbit "Babs" Rhodes
Posted: September 15, 2010

Volunteering was always a part of life for Babs Rhodes. Last year, she told Retirement Living magazine, "This is the way I pay back society," and, "it keeps me young."

Roslyn G. Babbit "Babs" Rhodes, 84, a retired apparel firm manager and community activist, died of kidney cancer Saturday, Sept. 4, at Attleboro Retirement Village in Langhorne.

Before becoming ill last year, Mrs. Rhodes took the train to Philadelphia twice a week, on Wednesdays to prepare meals for Manna, which provides meals for those afflicted with HIV and AIDS, and on Thursdays to give tours of City Hall.

She also volunteered at Cranbury Public Library in New Jersey and was active with A Chance to Heal, which provides programming and education to prevent eating disorders. A Chance to Heal was founded in 2005 by her daughter Ivy Silver and granddaughter Rachel Silver.

Mrs. Rhodes was past president of the Sisterhood of Temple Shalom in Levittown and had served on the National Board of Reform Sisterhoods. She was former cochairwoman of the Women's Division, Combined Jewish Appeal.

In 2006, she received a certificate of recognition from the Pennsylvania Senate for her work with X-Site, a Bensalem Township School District mentoring program that pairs teenagers with adults.

Over the years, Mrs. Rhodes marched in Washington for civil rights, reproductive rights, and the rights of Russian Jews.

Mrs. Rhodes, a native of Long Island, N.Y., graduated from the Parsons School of Design, where she studied fashion merchandising. She worked for Macy's in New York and later was an interior designer for a furniture store in Yardley.

From the late 1970s until retiring in the early 1990s, Mrs. Rhodes was a manager for Fashionaire, a division of Hart Schaffner Marx that produced uniforms for the airline industry.

"When she would fly," her daughter said, "a crew member would inevitably remember her and move her to first class."

Since moving to Attleboro Village four years ago, Mrs. Rhodes was active with the retirement community's actors studio.

An adventurous traveler, she went behind the scenes at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, on a Smithsonian Institute tour; climbed ruins in South America; snorkeled in the Galápagos Islands at the age of 75; and learned about music at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore on an Elderhostel tour.

Mrs. Rhodes was widowed three times. In 1948, she married Robert Silver. The couple were among the original residents of Levittown in 1955 and raised their daughters, Ivy and Mindy, there. Robert Silver died in 1969.

On New Year's Day 1976 she married Harold Zipser, who died 17 months later. She married Roland Rhodes in November 1983; he died in May 1984.

In addition to her daughters, Mrs. Rhodes is survived by three grandchildren.

The funeral was Tuesday, Sept. 7, at Congregation Shir Ami in Newtown, Bucks County.


Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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