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Published: Tuesday, 9/6/2005

Former minister in Archbold was on school board

HUDSON, Mich. Gary R. Hodges, a minister in the United Church of Christ who served as pastor of churches in Archbold and Fostoria during a career that spanned four decades, died Wednesday at his sister s home in Hudson. He was 64.

Mr. Hodges had undergone foot surgery last week and was recuperating when he died unexpectedly, said his wife, Linda.

Mr. Hodges spent more than half of his time as a minister at St. John s United Church of Christ in Archbold, where he was a pastor from 1972 to 1994. Mrs. Hodges said ministers frequently move from church to church and region to region, so she and her husband felt blessed to remain in Fulton County for such a long time.

Staying in Archbold was really rather unique, she said. It was a great place to raise our kids.

Mr. Hodges and his wife, who married in 1963, had two sons and a daughter. One of his sons, Rick, represented Defiance, Fulton, and Williams counties as a Republican state representative from 1993 to 1999.

While in Archbold, Mr. Hodges was deeply involved in community affairs. He was a past president of the Rotary Club of Archbold and served on the Archbold school board in the late 1980s, when the district won approval of a bond issue to build a new high school.

The 108,000-square-foot facility, built for $8.4 million, opened in the fall of 1990.

He was just interested in education, Mrs. Hodges said. Somebody once described him as a Renaissance man.

Before moving to Archbold, Mr. Hodges was a pastor at Grace United Church of Christ in Fostoria from 1966 to 1969. He previously served at churches in Springfield, Ohio, and Sidney, Ohio.

Mr. Hodges left Archbold to become pastor at Congregational Church in Algonquin, Ill., where he stayed for four years. From 1998 until November, 2004, when he retired, he was senior pastor of St. Peter s United Church of Christ in Elmhurst, Ill.

Since Mr. Hodges retired, he and his wife had been splitting time between their Chicago-area home and a residence in the Paulding County village of Oakwood so they could see family members in both places, she said.

He was kind of getting ready to spend more time here, Mrs. Hodges said. We traveled some, and I m so glad we did.

In fact, the couple returned from a trip to England, where they toured London, Bath, Oxford, and Stratford-on-Avon, the week before Mr. Hodges died, his wife said.

Mr. Hodges was born in Defiance on April 28, 1941, to Harold and Doris (Gall) Hodges. He grew up there and graduated from Defiance High School in 1959, then enrolled at Oberlin College, planning to major in piano studies.

But Mr. Hodges felt a calling to enter the ministry and transferred to Defiance College, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

After graduating with a bachelor s in music education in 1963, he began work as a minister.

Mr. Hodges continued his education at the Hamma School of Theology in Springfield, Ohio, receiving a master s of theology in 1966. He also earned a master s in organ performance from Wittenberg University in 1968 and a doctorate in ministry from Hamma in 1974.

Surviving are his wife, Linda; mother, Doris; sons, Rick and Jeremy; daughter, Julie Janik, and five grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 9 to 10 a.m. today at St. John s United Church of Christ, followed immediately by funeral services. Arrangements are by Short Funeral Home, Archbold.

The family requests tributes to the Rotary International Literacy Program or to a charity of the donor s choice.



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