Longtime educator helped others reach their potential

Talk to almost anyone who knew her, near or far, and the sentiment is the same. Bobbie Jean Hodge was a sweet, loving, strong, intelligent, graceful woman of character, exceptional poise and conviction.

She believed every person had God-given potential and invested her life in helping as many people as she could reach their potential. Hodge died Nov. 2 in Pine Bluff, at the age of 82.

“She just had a manner, a way of carrying herself that made people want to do better,” said Patricia Smith-Turner, a childhood family friend who spent lots of time in the Hodge home.

Friends, family and co-workers remember Hodge as someone who never raised her voice. Her words were few, but full of wisdom. A natural leader, she knew how to get things done and people wanted to be on her team, according to Virginia Hymes, a teacher in the Pine Bluff School District.

A lifelong educator, Hodge adored children. Her son Gregory called her a master teacher.

“She believed in engaging the entire family in children’s education,” he said.

A graduate of Merrill High School, AM&N College in 1953 and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1959, Hodge started her teaching

career at Carver Elementary School.

Shirley Washington, now retired, succeeded Hodge as principal of W.T.Cheney Elementary School in Pine Bluff.

“Words could never express the honor of following such a great administrator,” Washington said with a smile as she remembered. “I found nothing but the mark of excellence in every area of the school. It became my challenge to model her ideal leadership example. So, I turned to her for advice on many

occasions. She was always warm, encouraging and full of wisdom. She showed us how to bring honor and dignity into every situation. She was the epitome of a true educator.”

Hodge was well-known for being actively involved throughout the community, advocating and serving with her time, talent and treasure. Many organizations including the March of Dimes, Cub Scouts, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, UAPB, the local chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Inc., National Association of University Women, Jefferson County Boys & Girls Club — where she was instrumental in starting the Reading is Fundamental Program — and her home church, Highland Baptist Church, benefited from her passion to make a difference.

Funeral services for Hodge were held Saturday, Nov. 9