Jeffrey Alan Rhinehart was born on December 15, 1970 to Charles and Marie Rhinehart. He was the first of four children. His parents were saved when he was a toddler, so church would play an integral role in his life from a very young age. He was saved at the age of 7, and his relationship with Jesus became an important part of life. He loved to be in charge of his younger siblings, and was always organizing backyard baseball tournaments for his brothers and neighbors. He loved to sing and tell jokes. He did very well in school; he was even skipped through the first grade. He excelled in math and science, yet was also good at writing. He was active in sports throughout grade school and also high school and developed a passion for running as he got older. He received his diploma from Streetsboro High School in 1988, graduating second in his class. Jeff went on to attend Malone College for a teaching degree, where he met his wife, Gwen. He graduated in 1993, and began working as a 6th grade teacher at Valley Christian Academy in Aurora, Ohio where he became the favorite of many students. He is remembered for his Bible classes and also for his participation in intramural sports. He took a genuine interest in his students lives', and he had a way of conveying that interest in a way that only Jeff could do. Jeff married Gwen in December of 1994. Their daughter, Kaylee, was born on March 21, 1996. Soon after came his first son, Joshua, on May 21, 1997. His youngest son, Nathan, was born on June 23, 1999. Jeff loved his family more than anything. He was a wonderful husband and father, and he had an active role in all of their lives. He was also very close to his parents and his brothers and sister. Jeff was also very involved in church. He served as a children's pastor for a number of years, and was involved in the choir. He was a fantastic singer, and he performed in a quartet and also as a soloist. Jeff taught at VCA for ten years before he began his employment with the Ohio Virtual Academy, which is an internet based schooling system. Although he did not have as much face to face interaction with parents and students, he still went out of his way to take extra time for each one of them. This job allowed him to work mostly from home, which would turn out to be a blessing that only God could have orchestrated.
In 2004, while on a vacation to Topsail Island, NC with his entire family, 13 in all, Jeff started to experience some unusual symptoms, including numbness on the left side of his body. He was taken to the local emergency room there, where some tests were performed. He was admitted over the weekend, and saw the doctor on Monday who read his scans. He was informed that he had a lesion on the right side of his brain, but he would need more tests that they were not equipped to give. They released him with some medication to try and enjoy what was left of his family vacation, pending an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic upon his arrival home. After further scans and a biopsy surgery, Jeff was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at age 33. The doctors could not remove the tumor due to where it was located in his brain. He started a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy. Jeff continued to live his life as normal. He worked, took his family to church, sang in the choir and still performed solos, and he ran. Jeff still loved to run. His sister, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25, just one year after Jeff was diagnosed. The two were on chemotherapy treatment at the same time, and Jeff was a great support to her. Jeff's faith in God did not waiver. He knew that God could heal him at any moment, whether by His touch or through the medication. Jeff was taken off of his chemotherapy by his doctors after he had reached the maximum amount that could be administered. He was taking some medications that were being tested in clinical trials, but was also taken off of those when no significant progress was being made, and the risk for harm outweighed the good. Still, his condition was stable and Jeff was able to carry on his life. He had a few limitations, but was still able to work and take care of his family. In the summer of 2006, Jeff began displaying more symptoms which developed fairly rapidly, eventually leaving him unable to walk. His faith still did not budge, and he was truly given a peace that surpassed all understanding. Jeff was taken to the Cleveland Clinic in July of 2006, and after a week there, he was transported to Hospice of the Western Reserve. His wife and 3 children were able to live with him there. They were still a family. Jeff was continuing to tell jokes and smile more than ever. He loved to listen to his Bible on cd and also Bible programs. Jeff was rewarded for his perseverance on September 30, 2006 when he received his crown in Heaven. He was only 35 years old. His entire family was present to send him off into Jesus' arms. We all knew that in that moment, he was able to run again.
Jeff was a very mild and humble man on the outside, but he was so strong and confident in Christ on the inside. His knowledge of scripture and his ability to teach were beyond his age. He has left a legacy behind that will never be forgotten. Jeff's sister-in-law, Jenn, delivered a baby girl 2 1/2 months after Jeff passed away. Emily Marie Rhinehart was born on December 15, 2006, which would have been Jeff's 36th birthday. Although Emily and Jeff never got a chance to meet each other, they will share that bond for the rest of her life.
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