Robert Doughton Hodges, 89, passed away May 9, 2017 at Sunnybrook Assisted Living, Hendersonville, NC.
He was born August 11, 1927 in Watauga Co, NC to Finley P. and Carrie Miller Hodges. He was one of five children raised during the Great Depression. Known early on as “R.D.,” or to many in later life as “Governor,” (after Luther Hodges, NC governor), he grew up attending school taught by his grandfather in a one-room school house. The Hodges family lived on a working farm, logging and sawmilling timber by oxen in what is now the town of Boone, NC. After he finished high school, R.D. enlisted in the Army, where he earned the rank of Master Sergeant, serving in the last year of World War II, as well as the Korean Conflict. He loved the Army, teaching cooking to recruits and playing on the Army football team.
After serving in the Army, R.D. returned to Boone, where he met and married his wife, Mary Kathleen Coston, of Edneyville, N.C. They moved to Raleigh where he enrolled at N.C. State College. R.D. received his degree in animal husbandry, at which time he and Kathleen moved to Hendersonville, NC, where they made their lifelong home. On his arrival to Henderson County, R.D. taught agriculture to farm Veterans, one of the very first classes for what would become known as “Blue Ridge Technical College.” R.D. also worked as a close advisor to Ms. Sadie Patton on her vision for what she wanted “Blue Ridge Tech” to become on land she donated to Henderson County for the school. R.D. worked for many years for William Francis, Sr. of Francis & Wright, for whom he had great admiration. Later, R.D. became superintendent of International Minerals & Chemicals, a position he held for many years, serving farmers in WNC. Following that, he went to work for the NC Extension Service & Dwight W. Bennett and Grover Westmoreland as an agricultural agent until his retirement, although he continued to work for Extension even after his retirement. In the Extension Service, R.D. devoted his time to helping farmers succeed. He was instrumental in forming Farm City Day and the Master Gardener program. He presented a nightly radio program for WHKP on agriculture, led apple bus tours in Henderson County, and represented Henderson County apple growers at the NC State Fair for many, many years. R.D. was Grand Marshal of the 1983 King Apple Parade. He was also a great supporter of 4-H youth. R.D. dedicated his life to serving the farmer and citizens of Henderson County. He also enjoyed delivering Meals on Wheels, working on his farm and raising Angus beef cattle. He had great joy being a member of the Roy Johnson Sunday School class and the First United Methodist Church, where he served as head usher for many, many years.
R.D. was predeceased by his daughter, Anne Hodges Woodle; a brother, Charles Hodges; sisters, Emmo Wilfong and Willie Dixon.
He is survived by his wife, Kathleen Coston; son, Robert E. Hodges and wife, Pam Whitmire Hodges of Flat Rock; “baby” sister, Patty Marion of Dobson, NC, as well as many nieces, nephews and their children. R.D. loved all his extended family very much.
A celebration of his life will be held at 2pm, Saturday, June 3, 2017 at the First United Methodist Church. Please direct any gifts or memorials to the First United Methodist Church, 204 6th Ave W., Hendersonville, NC 28739.
Date: Saturday, June 3, 2017
Time: 2:00 pm
Hendersonville First United Methodist Church
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