James Calhoun Hodges
January 22, 1922 – December 20, 2007

James Calhoun Hodges was born January 22, 1922 in Jacksonville, Florida, the oldest child of Daniel M. Hodges and Alva Cunningham Hodges.  His adventurous childhood included summers spent on the Hodges family farm near Hahira, Georgia, where an aunt and uncle still lived in the original 19th century log home.

He graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville in 1939 and then enrolled in the University of Florida.  After completing his freshman year and the untimely death of his father, he joined the Florida National Guard in the fall of 1940 to help support his family.  Shortly after Pearl Harbor he applied and was accepted into the Army Air Corps.  Following extensive flight training he was assigned to the 7th Air Force 11th Bomb Group 42nd Squadron as a B-24 navigator.  He flew missions in the western Pacific from his base in Guam until spring 1945 and received the Distinguished Flying Cross.  He continued his military service after the War as a member of the Air Force Reserves and proudly attended reunions of the 11th bombardment Group the “Grey Geese.”

After the War he attended Iowa State College (University) graduating with a degree in agriculture in 1949.  Just prior to graduation he married Evelyn Rust on March 19, 1949 in Sheffield, Iowa.  His entire professional career was spent working for the Iowa State University Extension Service doing a job he loved helping people.  He retired as Director of the Des Moines County Extension Service in 1985.

In addition to his busy professional career he was dedicated to his community.  He actively participated in a wide variety of civic affairs and community efforts.  He also had a passion for education and learning.  He was a dedicated supporter of the local public schools and was very active in his children’s education.  He pursued his own formal education, too, obtaining a master’s degree from Western Illinois University.  In retirement he worked as a senior volunteer tutor in the elementary schools.  As an avid reader he continued his informal education.  He particularly enjoyed reading about history, politics, geography, and current events.  He was a long-time member and past president of the Southeast Iowa Civil War Roundtable.

He was a member of the Oak Street Baptist Church for over 50 years.  He served the church in many capacities including lay leader.

During his Extension career one of the many programs he initiated was the Master Gardener program.  In retirement he actively pursued his horticultural interests in the extensive yard around his own home.  He had a very inventive mind and spent hours working on projects in his well-equipped workshop.  He also was able to pursue his interest in geography and meeting people by traveling to all 50 states and numerous foreign countries with his wife Evelyn.

He is survived by his wife Evelyn, daughter Carolyn Dorting (Robert) of Burlington, sons Lee Hodges (Kathy) of Hahira, Georgia, and Alan Hodges (Susan) of Gainesville, Florida, granddaughter Jamie and great-grandchildren Gabriella and Ashton, brothers Rev. Dan Hodges of Milledgeville, GA, and Ronnie Hodges of Jacksonville, FL.  He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother Robert and one sister Kathleen.

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