Patricia Warren Rhea, 85, after a brief illness, passed away peacefully on Saturday, December 28, 2019 with her loving family by her side. She and Dr. Alfred Carter Rhea, her husband of 61 years, have been living in Greenville the past 14 years.
Pat was born in Jacksonville, Florida, to parents Robert Martin and Robbie Hall Warren on September 10, 1934. She graduated from the University of Alabama Birmingham Dental Hygiene School in June of 1958. The winsome dentist who had been living with Pat’s mother and brother while she was away at school had to move out of the house when she came home, but a sparked friendship with Pat remained and grew into a courting relationship. Al and Pat were married in Jacksonville, Florida on December 20, 1958.
Her love for Jesus was contagious and her ability to encourage was a gift that she used well. As members of First Baptist Church Jacksonville, both Al and Pat had tremendous influence working in the high school ministry. Many teenage girls, who were in Pat’s Sunday School class, keep in touch with the family till this day. After 16 years of marriage, Pat followed her husband as he felt called by God to minister in Africa. They joined Campus Crusade for Christ as career missionaries and spent a total of 21 years in Kenya and Uganda. Pat embodied hospitality which is evident by the name she was most known by "Mama Rhea". The door was always open to single and young married missionaries for rest and good food that was second only to her happy smile that lit up the room.
After moving back to the US, she worked for 10 years beside her husband as they led bible studies with ambassadors and their wives through the Christian Embassy in Washington, DC. Their move to Greenville, SC in 2005 brought them closer to her family and grandchildren. Countless ball games, ballet recitals, plays, graduations and birthday parties were seen by Grandmama Rhea. All 12 grandchildren were with her this past week as she brushed up against heaven. Her family will always be blessed by the memory of Mama Rhea sitting in the stands cheering them on. Their comfort is rooted in the fact she is still cheering them on toward godliness and love of Jesus; she’s just on a different stage with a better viewpoint.
Pat is survived by her loving husband, Dr. Alfred Carter Rhea, and her four children - daughter and son-in-law Nancy and Randy Baughman; son and daughter-in-law Alf and Loraine Rhea; daughter and son-in-law Betty Ann and Kenny Connor; daughter Ruth Rhea; 12 grandchildren (and five spouses) and six great grandchildren; her sister Bobbie Warren Mize of Jacksonville, Florida and numerous nieces and nephews.
A time of visitation will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2020 beginning at 1:00 pm at Fellowship Greenville Church followed by a celebration of Pat’s life at 2:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be sent to the Southern and Eastern Africa ministry of CRU where Pat served for over 21 years, by using the link below.
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