Alumni Spotlight (1)

Richard Hodges

By: Richard Hodges
July 10, 2015

I was born in Pikeville in 1928 and attended Pikeville College Training School (PCTS) my first six grades in the 1930s until my family moved to Ashland in 1940. During the years I attended the training school, our family lived across the street from the college in what became known as the President’s House. We moved there from Myra Barnes Avenue when I was five-years-old. With one vacant lot between us, one neighbor lived in what we called the Dean’s House in the ‘30s. The house was occupied by an acting dean of Pikeville College (PC) and his family, one of whom – Billy Koenig – became my close friend for the rest of his life. The story told by Miss Fern Harris, our first and second grade teacher, was that Billy Koenig and Dicky Hodges wanted to be known as William Koenig and Richard Hodges at PCTS. Those formal names were pretty much used by family the rest of our lives, although in senior years on occasion we were known as Bill and Dick. My own byline in the Ashland newspaper, where I worked as a summer, weekend and holiday reporter over a period of four years, was Richard Hodges Jr., probably because my father was head of the Kentucky and West Virginia Power Company at that point.

Several years after starting grammar school at PC, Professor Koenig gave up his acting dean post to Professor George Carson, who moved with his family to the Dean’s House. The family included a pretty girl about our age named Cleo Louise Carson, a contemporary, who subsequently became my favorite person, other than family-members, of her gender through the years. She joined William and me at PCTS. After her college graduation from Grove City College in Pennsylvania, where her father taught math, Cleo and I, who had been separated by hundreds of miles when I moved to Atlanta to get my A.B. degree from Emory University, ended up going our separate ways. She became a teacher at an academy near Johnson City, Tenn., married a coach at that school and raised a family, later earning a master’s degree in library science, becoming the librarian at a small four-year college near her home. After my graduation from Emory, I became a reporter for the Atlanta Constitution later joining a pioneer Atlanta ad and public relations agency where I stayed until retirement in the late 1980s. At that firm, I met another lovely lady, Barbara Burke Hodges, who I was attracted to and who agreed to marry me. We produced two sons and had a happy life together for 34 years until she passed away in 1986. In the late 1990s, I learned that my long ago friend Cleo had lost her husband. We, who had not seen one another for some 50 years, after a short courtship, decided to remarry – each other. On one of our rare trips to Pikeville, a picture was taken of Cleo and me standing next to the Administration Building with the Dean’s House and the President’s House showing in the background. That photo, and a story about its relationship to both of us, was carried in the university’s alumni magazine about 10 years ago.
 
After my family left Pikeville in 1940, my uncle, Francis Hill (Gus) Hodges, M.D., moved to the house at the top of the hill with his family and later moved to the Bowles Addition after selling what became the Hodges Home to the college, as I recall. 
 
The purpose of all of this was prompted by the archivist report about the Laughlin Cottage. There was a world of information about the history of that house that I very much enjoyed. However, for the sake of the record about that place, I thought I would add to it a bit, especially that part about when it became known as the Dean’s House.
 
Thanks for reading this message, intended to show how PC, now UPIKE, has had such a memorable influence on the life of a PCTS alumnus who lives a long way from the university, but is proud of having been associated with it in his own formative years.
 
Regards
Richard E. (Dick) Hodges, Jr.

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