Former governor, William R. Rhodes, passes away at age 84 

January 5, 2018


Communications & Public Affairs Office

Gila River Indian Community


William R. Rhodes, former Gila River Indian Community governor, chief judge, and Korean War veteran, passed away surrounded by family and loved ones on Dec. 28, 2017. He was 84-years-old. Rhodes served two terms as governor from 2006-2011.


Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis announced the passing of  former Governor, William R. Rhodes.  “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of one of the leaders and elders of our Community,” stated Governor Lewis.   “On behalf of our tribal government, and our Community members, I extend our deepest condolences to the Rhodes family, and we extend our sincerest thoughts and prayers. As we reflect on the life of Governor Rhodes we are grateful for his service, commitment and devotion to the Community.”


Rhodes served the Gila River Indian Community for over 30 years, serving at various times in all three branches of the tribal government.  He served as Chief Judge of the Gila River Indian Community Court for 15 years during the 1970’s and ‘80’s.    During that formative period for tribal courts he worked with such organizations as the National Indian Court Judges Association to provide leadership to his own tribal community and to other tribal communities seeking to develop their own tribal courts.   Thereafter, he was elected Lt. Governor, and then was elected as Council representative from District Four, where he served three terms.  He returned to the Court when he was again elected as Chief Judge of the Gila River Indian Community Court.  During Chief Judge Rhodes’ most recent tenure, the Gila River Indian Community Court modernized its facility and procedures to reflect the changing times and increasing case-load, and also increased the number of elected judges to deal with the increasing number of court cases.  In 2003, he was elected as Governor of the Gila River Indian Community.  He was re-elected to a second term as Governor, where he served until his retirement. Following his retirement from public office, he continued to remain active in family, church and community activities.