Brenda Kay Rhoads passed away in Stillwater, Oklahoma on January 5, 2023 after a brief illness with COVID. She was 74 years old. Brenda was born in Dallas, Texas on June 16, 1948 to Edwin Ray Rhoads and Daisy Kathleen (Pollard) Rhoads, both of whom preceded her in death.
Brenda grew up in rural-suburban Dallas and attended South Oak Cliff High School (Class of 1966). She loved telling wonderful stories of growing up in Texas in the 1950s and early 1960s; of family antics and farm animals, of drill team and dance classes. She married classmate Mike Loyd in 1967 and gave birth to their children, Tiffany in 1968 and Nathaniel in 1971. Brenda and Mike eventually divorced and she remarried to Michael Cockrill, also of Dallas, in 1973, and welcomed her third child, Amanda, in 1974, while living in San Diego, California, where Michael was enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The family of five made Southern California their permanent home and Brenda always made a comfortable home as they moved between locations, finally settling in Escondido, California, in the late 1970s. In Escondido, Brenda cultivated a wide community of friends through joining the Church of Christ and through her children's schools and the neighborhood. She was an attentive, loving mother, welcoming and hosting her kids' friends in her home, always volunteering to be the parent to drive, and planning family camping and road trips. She embraced the natural foods and natural health movements, baking her own bread and making her own yogurt before it was trendy, sending her kids to school with sprout and avocado sandwiches, and always ready with a salve or remedy for a friend in need. In fact, Brenda will be remembered first and foremost as a caregiver - of her children and home, of her church friends, and of a generation of local children who attended her home daycare on Aster Street in Escondido throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s. She moved from working with children to working with the elderly as an in-home healthcare aide, providing crucial care and companionship to many in their final years and months. Within her own family, Brenda continued in this role as a dedicated caregiver and attendant to her older sister and brother-in-law.
After Brenda's own children graduated high school, she and Michael Cockrill separated and she relocated to Texas with daughter Mandy in 1993. She returned to California briefly to welcome her first grandchild in 1997, but in 1999 Brenda traveled to England where Mandy was expecting her first child. In the early 2000s, Brenda's interest in healthcare led to her involvement in developing a proposal for a medical appeals process to protect patient rights. Although their proposal was ultimately not accepted, she took great pride in meeting with state representatives to discuss the U.S. national healthcare crisis. Brenda remained in England as long as possible before returning to Texas in 2009 and was eventually called to Oklahoma to live near her older sisters.
Brenda spent the last decade of her life in Perkins, Oklahoma, where she lived with her daughter, Mandy, and helped care for four of her grandchildren. She struggled in her final years, working hard, self-sacrificing, and enjoying few comforts, but she is remembered by Texas family and California friends alike as incredibly funny, a practical joker and storyteller, and a free spirit who did things her own way. She was firm in her beliefs, did not allow cursing or backtalk, and was committed to her religious faith. Though small in stature, all agree that she was a powerful force to be reckoned with.
Brenda is survived by her three children: Tiffany Wayne (David) of Watsonville, California; Nathan McWayne (Christine) of Malden, Massachusetts; and Amanda Hollis of Perkins, Oklahoma; eight grandchildren who knew and loved her as "Beba": Miles, Annabelle, Lillian, Brayden, Addison, Hunter, Parker, and Emelia; her four siblings: Nancy Murray, Peggy Rhoads, Carol Rhoads, and Randall Rhoads; and numerous nieces and nephews who remember her fondly.