Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 16, 2011

When Dusty Rhoades finished his visit with John Levis at Wake Forest Baptist Healthcare Center—Davie, he asked Levis to come outside with him. Levis has seen a lot in his 35 years of medical practice in Davie County, but he wasn’t sure what to expect.
Rhoades, a resident of Salisbury, had been his patient for seven years, so Levis thought it would be okay. And was it okay. Rhoades surprised him with a 50-caliber Kentucky Long Rifle with a muzzle loader that Rhoades built. “He and I have talked about guns for years,” Levis said. “He knows that I like exotic weapons.” Levis does not hunt but enjoys target practice. Rhoades invested countless hours in making the rifle, Levis said. “It is similar to rifles made before the Civil War with a beautiful wood finish,” he added. “I’ll shoot it some, and I’ll ‘baby’ it, too.”
Rhoades said it’s the first rifle he has made, and it took him about two months. “John Levis means a lot to me, and I wanted to thank him in a special way for the years he has taken care of me,” said Rhoades, a disabled retiree from the Coast Guard.
“John Levis has done so much for his patients,” Rhoades said. “He listens to them, and he is a special person.”
And John Levis knows Dusty Rhoades is a special patient.