Jim Hodge, F12, a founding member of FMCA, passed away in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, on September 3, 2008, following a lengthy illness. He was 83.
Jim and his wife, Versal, were among the 26 coach-owning families who gathered at Hinckley School in Hinckley, Maine, on June 20, 1963, to watch an eclipse of the sun. During the event, attendees discussed the possibilities and advantages of forming an owners club, which resulted in the birth of Family Motor Coach Association.
Jim Hodge was born on April 22, 1925, in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, and lived there and in nearby Rock Forest for most of his life. At the age of 16, with World War II raging overseas, Jim dropped out of school, lied about his age, and joined the Royal Canadian Army. Jim was trained as a diesel mechanic and stationed with the 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery in Brighton, England. Following the Allied Forces’ D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, Jim’s battery was sent to France for the duration of the war.
After the war, Jim was asked to deliver some furniture to his sister, Eleanor, who had taken an apartment in Toronto with a young lady she had worked with as a wireless radio operator in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Upon arriving at the apartment, Jim met his sister’s new roommate, Versal Coon, and they immediately hit it off. The two were married on December 17, 1945, and had four children: Roxy, Larry, Chris, and Laura.
Jim established a trucking business, which he operated for many years. In the 1970s he was named director of transportation for the Eastern Township School Board. When he left that position he returned to his love of trucking and became a driver for a company based in Sherbrooke. Jim’s daughter, Laura Guay, said her father was quite proud of his beautiful Peterbilt truck “” he showed it and it took “Most Outstanding Tractor” “” and drove the rig until he retired in the late 1980s.
Jim was obsessed with horsepower, be it the four-legged or combustion-engine variety. He navigated a Downeast-style fishing boat, always had a fleet of snowmobiles ready for the family when winter rolled around, and rode Kentucky-bred show horses. In fact, his first motorhome was a bus conversion that he designed specifically for transporting his horses to competitions. When he was unable to ride any longer, he converted the horse trailer portion of the coach into a garage that was almost able to accommodate the length of the Hodges’ Austin Mini car. Laura said folks called that motorhome “the bus having a baby,” as a portion of the vehicle stuck out the rear of the coach.
Jim was happiest with a wrench in his hand, either converting buses into motorhomes “” all four of his motorhomes were conversions he accomplished with Versal’s assistance “” or helping fellow owners solve problems with their coaches at rallies. “We all couldn’t wait to see our friends, and my dad’s friends couldn’t wait to see him,” Laura said. “You see, he was quite a mechanic and would dive headfirst into fixing something for someone. That is what he always did “” helped his friends.”
And, according to Laura, Jim always had plenty of friends. “With my father, if you were not his friend you would be in five minutes or less,” she said. “No matter where he went or who was around, my father would find someone to talk to. It used to sometimes drive my mother nuts, but we all knew if Dad found someone to talk to, he’d be awhile, and that’s because people found him interesting.”
Following Versal’s death on December 17, 1990 “” 45 years to the day they were married “” Jim continued to participate in FMCA activities, and he even found a new partner, Lou Laroux, with whom he shared the past 13 years. Laura said the two were inseparable. “We all embraced their relationship and treated Lou as part of the family right from the start,” she said. “She took such good care of Dad during his illness, and the family is so very thankful to her.”
Besides being an original member of FMCA, Jim was active in numerous chapters, including Green Mountain and Perfect Circle. “Most of all, Dad loved FMCA and was very proud to be a charter member,” Laura said. “He loved to tell the story [about FMCA’s formation] to all the members he met.”
Jim is survived by his daughters Roxy Jenkerson and her husband, Malcolm; Chris Hodge; and Laurie Guay and her husband, Terry. He also leaves his daughter-in-law Louise (his son Larry preceded him in death); his brother Carol Hodge; and eight grandchildren.
Coaches For Christ – South Central Rallies In Oklahoma
By Omar L. Brown, F354644
Sixteen couples who are members of the Coaches for Christ – South Central chapter met for a rally May 8 through 10, 2008, at the Twin Fountains RV Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Our chapter activities are nondenominational and center on fellowship, prayer support, and sharing our faith in service and ministry to others.
The rally began with hamburgers and fellowship late Thursday afternoon. The next morning everyone enjoyed a waffle breakfast, followed by a Bible study/discussion session led by Ron Wadley. The session concluded with several small discussion groups. Many members commented on how much they enjoyed this activity. During the afternoon many of the women, led by Betty McClain, met to work on quilts, while many of the men engaged in a game of horseshoes. That evening everyone enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the reception room, followed by games.
Saturday morning we toured Boys Ranch Town in Edmond, Oklahoma, operated by the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. Boys Ranch Town provides a home for nearly 200 underprivileged boys and has wonderful facilities, including a barn and many farm animals that the residents care for. Our hearts were touched as we toured the Donald and Wanda Fischer Cottage, which is home to eight of the boys. The Fischers, who are members of the chapter, provided the funding for this outstanding building. Following this tour, we all met back in the recreation room at the RV park for a one-hour worship service, highlighted by a narration on the life of Peter by Ron Wadley. At the close of the worship service we all went our separate ways, and felt that we had been spiritually uplifted by the activities and fellowship of the rally.
If you live in the South Central Area, which includes the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and are interested in joining our chapter, contact Omar L. Brown, membership vice president, at [email protected].
RIP’s First Rally
By Rip, As Told To Gloria Adcock, F311374, & Ann Schipper, F17603
I was born in Searcy, Arkansas, in the early hours of Sunday, April 6, 2008. My first human contact was with my owner, Charlie Adcock, president of the Rally in the Pasture chapter and an area vice president in the South Central Six-State Rally Association. Every day since has been amazing!
I was surprised by all the people who showed up to see me later that week. My legs were still a bit shaky, but I finally managed to stand and let folks take pictures. Then when I went outside, I saw huge motorhomes parked all over the pasture, and friendly folks greeting one another with hugs and handshakes. What a fun group of people. Listening to them talk, I found out that 65 coaches were expected to show up that week (April 9 through 12) for a rally, whatever that is. After awhile, some brand-new display coaches rolled in, so folks let me rest and went to look them over.
I guess I must have been a big hit, because they had a contest to name me. My name is now RIP, which is taken from “Rally In The Pasture,” the same name this group goes by. I really enjoyed listening to all the nice comments people were making about this gathering, and I learned a lot about these folks. They enjoy having a good time.
Charlie; his wife, Gloria; and their wonderful volunteers did a fantastic job providing breakfasts every morning and delicious dinners in the evenings. They also planned a ladies’ luncheon at which their daughter, Denise Drye, presented a program on the Relay for Life Program with the American Cancer Society. Becky Cato, a cancer survivor, shared the experiences of her fight against this disease, and the importance of being involved with the Relay for Life. Another seminar was presented by FMCA executive director Don Eversmann regarding the member benefits available to all these folks. Many members said they were unaware of all that FMCA has to offer. All of this plus fun, friends, and fellowship. No wonder they have such a cheerful attitude and enjoy being around each other.
At the Friday morning business meeting of the Rally In The Pasture chapter, I heard them talking about plans for the 2009 Rally In The Pasture, and how many of the fine folks had volunteered for the South Central Area Rally that was held in North Little Rock, Arkansas, in September. I sure wish they would’ve taken me along.
On Friday afternoon the rally-goers all gathered for a very special luncheon to hear Nick Bacon, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, speak about his time in the service and his experiences in Vietnam. Although Nick is retired from the military, he’s still involved with many of the men and women who serve today. He made everyone more aware of the sacrifices those in the military make so that all Americans can have the freedom they enjoy in our great country.
On Saturday afternoon the ladies were invited to bring and share some of their favorite craft items. It was amazing to see all the different things a person can do while traveling down the road. I’m guessing that most of the ladies walked away with new craft ideas. Maybe one of them would like to make me a quilted blanket.
I wish I was allowed out to see the entertainment, but I could hear some of it while in the barn, and it sounded great. Chapter member Ray Baudoin entertained those who arrived early on Tuesday evening, as well as everyone on Friday night, with smooth, mellow music to listen and dance to. The Ron & Opal Show took a nostalgic look at the music of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (personally, I would like to grow up to be like Trigger). Johnny Counterfit did great impressions of so many singers and comedians, and I heard plenty of laughter from the crowd. The last night was highlighted by a performance by the Keith Longbotham Trio, which sounded like a great show with music and laughter.
On Sunday many of the folks at the rally came to see me and say good-bye, and I felt like I was part of a new and bigger family. Next year (April 1 through 5, 2009), I probably will be allowed to run around outside a little more and will enjoy seeing all of my new friends again. Take care, and safe travels.