July 3, 1927 – July 1, 2015
NIAGARA FALLS – James V. Rhoney of Niagara Falls, a Marine Corps veteran of World War II and longtime president of the Rhoney chain of funeral homes in Niagara County, who also found a second career on the circus circuit, died Wednesday in his Niagara Falls home under the care of family and Niagara Hospice. He was 87.
Born in Niagara Falls, Mr. Rhoney graduated from Sacred Heart School and St. Mary’s High School and served with the 2nd Marine Division, the first group of soldiers to enter Nagasaki after the second atomic bomb was dropped.
He graduated in 1948 from McAllister School of Funeral Directing and received his funeral directing license later that year. He was the president of the family-founded Rhoney Funeral Home from 1951 until his retirement in 2001. During more than 50 years as a funeral director, he built onto the original Rhoney funeral home in NIagara Falls and expanded the business to Sanborn and later to Lewiston.
Mr. Rhoney was active in the Niagara Falls area – a founding, charter, board member or president of many social, professional, religious and civic organizations over the years. He also served as chairman for many programs.
In the 1950s, Mr. Rhoney and his family began spending vacation time traveling throughout the United States with circuses, including Clyde Beatty and Tarzan Zerbini. As the years went by, he worked with the biggest stars in the industry and became personal friends of many. He and his wife, Angie, started working with elephants and retired in 2003 from management.
He also served as a lay minister on the circus circuit. Mr. Rhoney wrote many articles for Circus Report, a magazine dedicated to the latest circus news.
Mr. Rhoney also was notable for being on the last successful raft ride through the Niagara River rapids during the 1980s.
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, the former Angeline DiNardo; a son, Daniel J.; three daughters, Mary Elizabeth Weber, Teresa LaNasa and Catherine E. Fending; two brothers, Paul J. and Michael D.; two sisters, Sister Colette Rhoney and Mary Alice Wonsiewski; and nine grandchildren.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Rhoney Funeral Home, 901 Cayuga St., Lewiston.