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Obituary: Gillian Kay Rhoads

For The Madera Tribune

Gillian Kay Rhoads.


On Sept. 27,2022, Gillian “Kay” Rhoads peacefully set on her next great experience. She was 81.

Born Sept. 1, 1941, in Aberdeen, South Dakota, to Anton Bullock and Keitha (Reed) Bullock. Kay was the second of 6 siblings. The family travelled across the country to make a new home in California in 1952. Kay attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City. She always made friends easily and was named Aqua Folley’s Queen her senior year, even though she couldn’t swim. After graduating in 1959, Kay met the love of her life, Gary, while visiting a friend at PamPro Plastics in San Carlos. The friend was Gary’s mother. Kay and Gary married in January of 1961 and began their 50 year long love affair. They had two daughters, Scarlet and Velvet.

In 1972, the family moved to Madera. They loved the small-town vibe. Soon Kay opened the Plant Pantry and submerged herself into the community. Kay never met a stranger; she would start a conversation in the checkout line and come home with the life story of her new friend she had met. Kay was a successful salesperson for Madera Stationers and later when the former owners of Peck’s Printery retired, Kay and Gary bought the business in 1990.

Kay is an active member of the Madera Rotary Club, and has served as the club’s president, assistant governor, and coordinated the Rotary Relay event for many years. She daily lived the Rotary 4 Way Test. Kay was also one of the founding members of the Friends of Madera Animal Shelter, recently retiring as treasurer, a position she held for more than 16 years. Through the years she has rescued and fostered hundreds of animals and many in our community have provided “forever” homes to her wards. In 2017, Rhoads’ dedication led her to receive the Madera Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and it was a well-deserved honor. She humbly accepted and gave others credit for it.

Kay always had a love for plants, animals and books. Her home is filled with beautiful house plants and several dogs. She never met a book she didn’t love. She was a lifelong reader and had a knack for reading out loud. We often fell asleep to her soothing voice. Kay preferred to be out on her property tending to her rescue horses, watering plants or pulling weeds. We rarely saw her without a rake or apple fork in her hands. She lived her life to the fullest, always busy and looking to the next event.

Gary preceded her in death in 2011. She leaves behind daughters; Scarlet Rhoads (Liz Albert), Velvet Rhoads, grandchildren; Gillian and Griffin Rhoads-Albert, her sister and lifelong companion Karen Handler, her favorite brother Leonard Bullock (Roger Biery), sister-in-law Paula Perialas, very special friend Claudia Densmore, and sisters; Keitha Demara, Carol Young and Gwen Blewett. Kay also leaves behind many nieces and nephews.

Although our coming days will be difficult and filled with the loss of her large “personality”, we are comforted by the knowledge that Mom and Dad are together again dancing through the stars.

A public memorial was not part of her wishes.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to FMAS ( or PO Box 923, Madera 93639), the Madera Rotary Scholarship Fund, (PO Box 135, Madera 93639), or charity of your choice. Please feel free to leave condolences to Neptune Society:



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