Lawrence Rhys Severe

July 12, 1957 ~ October 5, 2019 (age 62)


            On Saturday, Oct. 5, the world lost Rhys Severe- a great man, a great husband, a great father, a great friend, a great educator, a great coach and a great spirit. Rhys died unexpectantly while on a road trip with his wife, Peggy Jennings-Severe. He left this world surrounded by Peggy, his good friends Jim and Lisa Werner and his dog Bochy.

            Rhys was born July 12, 1957 in Odessa, Texas and lived there until he was 8, when his parents Tex and Frances Severe made the bold decision to relocate to Modesto, California. It was in Modesto, that Rhys attended El Vista Elementary School, La Loma Junior High School, and Downey High School. Throughout his school years, Rhys was active in sports including youth bowling, baseball, and basketball. Of the three, baseball was his first love until he met and asked a girl, Peggy Jennings, to the Christmas dance in 1973.

            Eager to stretch his wings and not so eager to attend college yet, Rhys joined the U.S. Marine Corp in 1975, where he served in Avionics as part of the Air Corp Wing.  He was stationed in El Toro, California, Havelock, North Carolina and Fatima, Okinawa. It was while in the Marine Corp, that he established lifelong friends and developed an interest in countries and cultures other than his own.

            After the Marine Corp, Rhys moved to Chico to be with Peggy, who was attending graduate school at CSU, Chico. It was while attending Butte College, that Rhys began to find his true professional calling – teaching and coaching. Rhys graduated from CSU, Chico with a degree in Liberal Studies and a teaching credential. He was immediately hired by Durham Unified School District where he taught 6th grade for 16 years and then served as Athletic Director and Assistant Principal. Though he loved teaching his passion was coaching which he did often and well. Rhys coached basketball, baseball, and soccer.

            After a 2-year role as an Assistant Principal at Marsh Junior High, Rhys finished his career at his beloved Marigold Elementary School, where he severed as principle for 9 years.

            As full as his professional life was, Rhys’s real joy was time spent with his family and friends, preferably outdoors. Rhys’s family includes his wife of 39 years-Peggy Jennings-Severe,  children: Annie Severe, Murat Karatekeli, Ben Severe, and soon-to-be daughter Megan Damman, grandchildren: Aydin and Sofie, sisters: Melinda Gordon and Kari Severe and brother-in-laws: Roy Gordon, Ross Jennings, Stu Jennings and Rich Grosvenor. He was also close to his four nephews and niece who stayed with he and Peggy during the summer.

            Rhys’s circle of love was boundless and included his life-long friend Mark Lopes, members of Thursday night BPOT, and the Elks Bowling League and Lodge. He also counted many past students and co-workers as valued friends.

A Celebration of Rhys’s Life is scheduled for Saturday, October 19 beginning at 1:00 at Trinity United Methodist Church followed by a reception at Elks Lodge.  For more information and to submit photos, memories, and your best Rhys story, go to:

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