Remembering Dr. James Hodges

April 24, 2012

Dr. James A. Hodges, 82, of Temple Terrace, Fla. passed away on April 10, 2012 after a battle with cancer.

It is really only possible to scratch the surface when attempting to honor Dr. Hodges’ life and work. As Dr. Thaxter Dickey mentioned in his remarks during the funeral, “the mere facts of the obituary seem so scant and inadequate and surely do not capture the reality of the man.” And yet, those facts are vital when painting a picture of Dr. Hodges’ life.

He was a husband, father, and Christian first, and is survived by his wife, Wanda, daughters Lois Mathews and Martha Prince (Gary), son Paul Hodges (Nancy), seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. He was predeceased by his son, Timothy, and his daughter, Violet.

Dr. Hodges was also a scholar, with three master’s degrees in speech communication, library science, and religion, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in New Testament and Early Christian Literature. Those degrees paved a career path with as much variety as his interests. As a professor from 1969 to 1987, Dr. Hodges taught everything from speech communication to Greek and Hebrew. In 1987, he began a second career as a cataloguer in the Florida College library and was the library’s director from 1997 to 2004. This work included oversight of the Phillips Library acquisition—a monumental task that added more than 200,000 volumes to the library over a period of five and a half years.

“As a resource for knowledge in a variety of fields and the overseer of our various collections in the Library, Dr. Jim Hodges was second to no one in terms of his value to the Florida College faculty, staff and students, and to me personally,” says Florida College President Dr. Buddy Payne.

Dr. Hodges’ love of books extended to the creation of own masterwork, Creation vs. Evolution, an as-yet unfinished book on his favorite subject.

“My favorite times with Dr. Hodges were when we were discussing his favorite subject—the evolution/creation controversy,” says Dr. Payne. “We would often recommend to each other the latest good book that we had found related to that subject.  Then we would read the book and share reactions to the material.  He never could finish his own masterpiece on the subject because he was always finding more things to include! It is my determined desire to honor his passing by having the Florida College Press publish the book that represents his life’s work.  Our beloved brother will be sorely missed!”

Of course, Dr. Hodges went by many other names, too. According to Dr. Dickey, he was an outdoorsman and adventurer as comfortable at a campsite as he was at home, and a “real-life Indiana Jones,” who spent five summers in Israel on archeological digs. He was a collector, with a stash of rocks and fossils to rival those in some of the best museums. He was a lifelong student, a reader, a deep thinker—even a dog lover.

“Among several cats, there is one ceramic dog in the library. It is a reminder to keep balance in the library—a balance supplied by Dr. Hodges,” says Wanda Dickey, who currently serves as Florida College’s library director and whose work with Dr. Hodges began in 1996. “Jim Hodges maintained his own balance by working hard but taking breaks, hiking religiously but enjoying the view, listening to others but speaking up when necessary. I am still a cat lover, but the dog sitting on top of the bookshelf in the back room provides a warm spot in my heart. Thank you, Dr. Hodges!”