September 10, 1930 - October 17, 2013 FORGAN On a beautiful autumn afternoon, Jerry R. Hodges, Beaver County rancher, farmer, former teacher and lifelong resident, of Forgan, passed into life everlasting to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, October 17, 2013, at Liberal, Kansas. His wife, Sherry, was there by his side. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at Forgan Baptist Church. Interment will be at Forgan Cemetery. Born in Beaver, Oklahoma, on September 10, 1930, to Raymond Ellis Hodges and Edith Marie Gardner Hodges, he was a third generation rancher and farmer. During his early childhood, his parents and younger sister, Faye, moved to California in order to escape the brutal conditions of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. However, a few years later, the love of family and land in the Oklahoma Panhandle beckoned his family back to Forgan. Jerry was a graduate of Forgan High School and was later drafted into the United States Army. As a member of the Fifth Army Combat Engineers during the post World War II reconstruction of Germany, Jerry served as a demolition and ammunition expert. His unit protected the German-Russian border. Jerry formed many lasting friendships with the men in his unit. He was always happy to see and visit with them. Jerry was the last living member of that unit. It can be said he truly was a patriot who loved his country. He left active duty in 1953 and returned to college, where he graduated Oklahoma Panhandle State University with a Bachelor of Science degree. Jerry loved teaching, and he began his first teaching position at Boise City High School. He taught biology and related science courses there for six years. In 1963, he returned to his hometown of Forgan to begin his own farming and ranching operation. He also began teaching high school science at the Balko Public Schools. The Hodges Homestead, located near Forgan, was the original quarter section of land that his grandparents, Gilbert and Lilllie Carney Hodges, homesteaded in 1906. This home was the center of many happy times with the thirty Hodges cousins who gathered there for festive occasions and summer vacations. Jerry purchased the beloved Hodges Homestead from his Uncle Wayne Hodges in 1957 and in 2008, completed the necessary paperwork to certify it as an Oklahoma Centennial Farm and Ranch. He loved the history associated with the Homestead and the old Jones and Plummer Trail that crossed the farm. One spring day in 1962, a fellow teacher gave Jerry the phone number of a college girl, and on October 23, 1963, he married the love of his life, Sherry Bell, at the First Baptist Church of Spearman, Texas. They were blessed with two children, Joe Michael and Shannon. They were always the light and delight of his life. Due to the demands of running a farm and ranch, Jerry retired from teaching in 1973. He had many fond memories of teaching in Boise City and Balko and always spoke highly with great admiration and respect for his former students. Following his retirement from teaching, Jerry focused on the growth of his farm and ranch. He loved the beauty of the Panhandle land and eventually acquired another ranching operation in Meade and Clark County, Kansas. In the spring of 1968, Jerry made a Profession of Faith in Christ Jesus as his Lord and Savior and was baptized at the First Baptist Church of Forgan. Jerry saw God's lovely handiwork in the golden wheat fields and green pastures. He felt blessed and expressed it many times to his Lord and others. Jerry's commitment to his family and work stemmed from his relationship with God. He stood by his values and faith with steadfast, uncompromising resolve. It was through his faith that he was able to hold strong to the very end of his life. He will be missed by his loved ones, family and friends, but his story continues and the lessons he taught will remain. Jerry was a devoted member of the Forgan community and of the First Baptist Church of Forgan. He always embraced people and situations with a positive outlook and tried to find the best in everything and everyone. He was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Edith; little sister, Leta; his brother-in-law, L.D. Robins; and mother and father-in-law, Dee and Hugh Deere. Those treasuring his memory and legacy are Sherry, of the home in Forgan; his sister, Faye Robins, of Forgan; his son, Joe and Lori Hodges, and their daughters, Emory Cate and Caroline, of Edmond, Oklahoma; his daughter, Shannon and Bryan Durbin, and their daughters, Lily and Holly, of Oklahoma City; his nephew, Ray and Cindy Robins, and family, of Oklahoma City; nieces: Kay and Jeff Davis, of Garden City, Kansas; and Lynetta and Bill Stout and family, of Forgan; plus many cousins. He is also survived by truly special loved ones residing in Ardmore, Durant, El Paso, and Santa Fe. He will be remembered as a smart, shrewd, engaging, generous, positive, and devoted husband, father, beloved Papa, brother, and friend. He was a child of God. One of Jerry's favorite Scriptures was Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

Published in The Oklahoman on Oct. 22, 2013