James Hodge, age 69 passed from this life on Friday, October 12, 2012 in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
A forty-two year resident of Idabel, he was born in Denison, Texas, December 24, 1942, and grew up on a farm in nearby Colbert, Oklahoma. He graduated from Colbert High in 1961 and attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Later, he returned to farming and took over the operation of the Gulf Oil Company service station in Colbert. In 1964, Louis Holderby hired him as a salesman at Louis Holderby Ford in Durant. His first day on the job was April 17, the introduction date of the Ford Mustang. James sold the first Mustang in Durant.
In August of 1970, he purchased the Ford dealership in Idabel from Jess Price, and in the years following, dealerships in Broken Bow, Sallisaw, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Ardmore, and Paris, Texas. Highly respected by his fellow dealers, James served many years as president of the board of Ford Dealer Advertising Fund and Lincoln-Mercury Dealer Advertising and was chosen by the Oklahoma Automobile Dealers’ Association as their nominee for the Time Magazine Dealer of the Year Award. He was also honored many times by General Motors, Toyota, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company and Ford Motor Credit. Although proud of the accomplishments his “other” dealerships, James’s first loyalty was Ford. He many times said, “You dance with the one that brought you” and “My blood runs blue.”
James was 27 years old when he came to Idabel. It was a time when shaking hands with a customer or a banker was bond. He and First State Bank president Jimmy Wooten sealed many contracts with just a handshake. He was a close friend of neighboring Ford dealer Jack Lane and liked to tell the story of the Saturday afternoon he had a customer who wanted a car that was on Jack’s showroom floor. Jack was closing, so he told James he would put the door key under the outside door mat and to go on in and get the car. Always fair to his customers, if he said something was going to be a certain way, it was. His son John said, “The car business changed a lot in the past 40 years, but Daddy’s word never did.”
Helping others was another of James’s attributes. He never forgot the support from the Colbert community his family received when his father died. James was 13 and the oldest of three. There were acres of peanuts in the ground and acres of hay on the ground. James and his brother Jerry, barely one year younger, worked alongside friends and neighbors throughout the summer and fall to make sure the family’s livelihood and home were protected. The rest of his life, James quickly and quietly reached into his pockets, took out his checkbook, or hooked the mower or front end loader onto his John Deere to help his neighbors. One of his greatest pleasures was mowing both sides of the road from Legate’s Corner to the top of the hill at Boss Road.
James is survived by his three sons, Jim, John and Jack, and their mother, Mary Kathryn; Jack’s wife Tamra; his mother, Syble Hestily; four grandsons, Jeremy, Jay, Hunter and Jackson; Jay’s wife Rochelle; one granddaughter, Jentry; Jeremy’s wife Milissa; and two great-grandchildren, Jefferson and Jorja; one brother, Jerry, one sister, Glenda and her husband, Ronnie.
Services will be held at 2:00 p.m., Tuesday at The First Baptist Church, Idabel, Oklahoma. Graveside services will be held at 2:00 pm on Wednesday at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Colbert, Oklahoma.
The family will receive friends from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, October 15, 2012 at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to the James Hodge Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o McCurtain County National Bank, P.O. Box 359, Idabel, OK 74745.
Online condolences can be sent at www.whitefamilyfh.com.