Jeter Rhodes, son of Jeter E. Rhodes, Sr., and Lucille Gallman Rhodes, was born in Estill, South Carolina. He graduated from high school in Estill in 1962 and enrolled in The Citadel. He was an excellent student, gifted athlete and model citizen throughout his high school and college days, and was rewarded for his hard work with an academic/athletic scholarship to The Citadel. He played quarterback for The Citadel football team, and graduated in 1966 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. Jeter enrolled at the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1968. He served on the Law Review all three years and his published articles received the highest rating on each occasion. In later years he returned to the law school, where he taught trial advocacy as an adjunct instructor.
Jeter practiced with the prestigious Columbia firm of McCutchen Blanton Rhodes & Johnson for 28 years. His primary focus was the defense side of civil litigation. He served as Chairman of the SC Supreme Court Committee on Character & Fitness, Chairman of the Trial & Appellate Section of the SC Bar, President of the Richland County Bar Association, President of the SC Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, State Chairman of the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, and was a member of the House of Delegates for the SC Bar, the SC Trial Attorneys Association, and the International Association of Defense Counsel and Defense Research Institute. In 1968 he married Cheryl Walborn and later had four children: Jennifer, Jeter, Karen and Thomas.