Albert Launer Rhodes-Wickett died on April 3, 2010 at the age of 64 after living with Early Onset Alzheimer's disease for nearly 15 years.
Al was the second of five children born to Dr. William H. and Jean L. Wickett. The Wickett family, in Fullerton, CA, was part of two Southern California pioneer families, the Launers and the Chapmans, and they were highly involved in the community and the United Methodist Church.
Al developed a deep love for the people of Zimbabwe when his family lived in (then Southern Rhodesia) in 1960-61.
He graduated from Fullerton Union High School in 1964 and from USC in 1968 where he was a trumpeter in The Trojan Marching Band and a member Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity.
He returned to Zimbabwe several more times, including a year of teaching math to high school students. In 1974 he graduated from Claremont School of Theology with a Dr. of Religion. Ordained as a United Methodist pastor, Al served five churches in Southern California.
He and Sharon Rhodes were married in May of 1977, becoming one of the earliest clergy couples. Al's ministry reflected his genuine interest in person's spiritual and intellectual growth, as well as creativity and humor in preaching and teaching. He loved writing skits for all kinds of occasions. He promoted Sierra Service Project and served as staff one summer. Al was a talented musician and composer. He composed four Broadway style musical theater productions in local churches with fully orchestrated scores reflecting the Dixieland and Jazz styles he loved. His musicals confront tough social issues that stimulate audiences to grapple with complex moral concerns of our times.
Al had a life-long commitment to Gandhi's understanding of non-violence, culminating in his last musical, "Pacem Island." There are plans underway to produce it.
Al was a deeply caring man and a sensitive listener. He was passionate for justice, as well as for his family; he loved being a daddy more than anything.
He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Sharon Rhodes-Wickett of Claremont; daughter Rachel Gipson and her husband Elliot of Los Angeles; son Benjamin Rhodes-Wickett of Claremont; sister Anne Cross and Jon of Saratoga; sister Kay Ostensen of Laguna Beach; brother William H. Wickett III and Maryann of Encinitas; and sister Susan Wickett Ford and Dan of Seattle WA; 11 nieces and nephews, aunts and uncle, special cousins, and many long time friends and colleagues.
A service of Celebration will be at Westwood United Methodist Church on Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 4 p.m. with a reception following; 10497 Wilshire Blvd. LA, CA 90024. Gifts in Al's memory may be sent to: Sierra Service Project, PO Box 992, Carmichael, CA 95609; Claremont School of Theology, 1325 N. College Ave, Claremont, CA, 91711-3199; Alzheimer's Assoc, 5900 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1100, LA, CA 90036.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Apr. 22, 2010
NOTE: The Fullerton Union High School yearbooks have Al as being in the Class of ’63.