Rhodes was the son of Lee and Mae Rhodes. He joined the Department in 1946 and was promoted to Sergeant, working primarily in Ensley. He helped guard students at West End High School when Birmingham City Schools were integrated in 1963 and was later assigned to investigate internal affairs. He also worked off-duty security details at Municipal Auditorium.
In the early 1970s, Rhodes was made the first chaplain for the department. He retired in 1976 and became assistant chief of security at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center until his second retirement in 1991. Rhodes subsequently volunteered with American Red Cross disaster relief efforts until macular degeneration forced him to step aside at age 85.
Rhodes was a long-time deacon at West End Baptist Church.
Rhodes died in 2013. He was survived by his wife, Ethel ("Red"), three children, eight grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. He was buried at Elmwood Cemetery, wearing one of his favorite Snoopy "Joe Cool" t-shirts.
- Garrison, Greg (October 20, 2013) "From Sgt. Joe to 'Joe Cool,' first Birmingham police chaplain changed with the times." The Birmingham News