Tom Rhodes promise to not take up smoking sent him high above the clouds, and the story our intern Tanika Turner wrote about how that came about is one of our Best of 2020 picks.
He grew up in Highland Park and finished his secondary education at Highland Park High School, where he had the pleasure of escorting the homecoming queen. She just so happened to become his wife.
Flying became his hobby after his father made a deal with him. If Tom refrained from picking up a cigarette before the age of 21, his father would pay him $500. Rhodes mowed lawns that summer for extra money and had already earned $300. The lawn care money paired with the $500 from his father was enough to pay for flying lessons.
“One moral to this story: Keep doing what you love as long as you are able,” said People Newspapers editor William Taylor, who picked this as one of his favorites of the year.