Saturday, August 15, 2015
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and refreshments will be served.
Monday, August 17, 2015
1:00 PM EDT
Ft. Custer National Cemetery
15501 Dickman Road
Augusta, MI 49012
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a smile that could light up a room, Percy Hodge was an inviting man to know and love. Well read, he could easily strike up a conversation with anyone. Percy was a great storyteller which enlightened those around him, yet his direct manner could sometimes catch people off guard. He did not mince words. Just one of the many things loved about Percy. He was also an intelligent man who provided for the family entrusted to his care. Gone, but never to be forgotten, Percy will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
The problems of the Great Depression affected virtually every group of Americans. No group was harder hit than African Americans with nearly half of them out of work. Racial violence again became more common, especially in the South. The crash of the stock market in late 1929 created havoc and financial turmoil from coast to coast. During these changing times, nestled in the Indiana city of Gary, Percy James Hodge entered the world on February 23, 1930, the son of Obra and Florence (Byrd) Hodge.
Having been born and raised in Gary, Percy grew up alongside his younger brother, Charles. His father made a living as the proprietor of a barbecue restaurant and also did carpentry as a sideline, a gift passed on to him from his father, James Hodge. James was a builder/contractor who had lived in Monroe, Louisiana. During the heyday of Gary’s steel mill industry, James Hodge relocated to Gary and built shacks and sold them solidifying financial comfort for his family. He laid the pipes for houses built in Gary in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Due to the statute of limitations, his family was never able to realize the Gary Water District’s overture to pay restitution for his having laid the city’s water pipes. James took the money he made in Gary and moved his boys to Chicago, opened a barbecue stand on State Street, and purchased a home on 3720 South Wabash. This was on Chicago’s south side, which at the time, boasted of prominent and influential blacks of this era.
Percy was an outgoing young fellow who shared much adventure with neighborhood friends, and found his share of mischief, too. He attended the area schools where he and his brother became outstanding athletes. A renowned basketball player, Percy also excelled in baseball before graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1947. He attended his last two years of high school there. His first two years were spent at Saint Benedict the Moor Catholic High, a boarding school for African American students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
More than ready to leave the nest, Percy enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March of 1947. He truly liked the Navy, and in the four plus years he served, he was stationed in Little Creek, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. He also acquired quite a “sailor mouth” during his stint in the Navy which remained with him for years to come!
After his first marriage, Percy worked for the U.S. Postal Service for several years. He then tried his hand at marriage for a second time. He worked selling restaurant equipment and was a salesman and buyer of hats for Henry C. Lytton and Company until that marriage ended, as well.
The third time was the charm for Percy when he met Rubbie at an area hand car wash. She had a beat up Ford Pinto, and he had a new, 1978 Buick Park Avenue. He noticed Rubbie sitting on a bench reading while her car was being washed. After striking up a conversation, Percy gave her his business card (this was mandatory for her) and asked her out. They made an instant connection. Rubbie worked as a school teacher, and the two shared many of the same interests. They dated for some time, and fell deeply in love. Percy and Rubbie were happily married on September 28, 1983, at city hall in Chicago.
Percy lovingly took Rubbie’s two children on as his own, and with his youngest son, Joel, they made their home in Hazel Crest, Illinois, where they purchased their first house. While Rubbie taught school, Percy supported their household working as a manager for Kentucky Fried Chicken. He made his way up the ranks to district manager, and in time became a franchisee before retiring in 1990.
When Percy’s mother took ill in 2000, Percy and Rubbie moved to California to be near her. They remained in Pasadena for close to a year before buying a home in Palmdale. Rubbie continued to teach, and Percy enjoyed his retirement doing odds and ends around the house, taking in the warm weather, and engaging in his love for yard work. However, they both missed their family. After ten years, they made their way to Michigan, moving to the Kalamazoo area to be near their daughter, Jade. They relocated to Battle Creek where Percy lived for the remainder of his days.
Percy always encouraged his boys to play sports, especially basketball. He watched loads of sports on TV, following his favorite local teams, the Bulls, Bears, and Lakers. Fond of LeBron James, he also liked golf and especially liked watching Tiger Woods. Percy was a Pepsi guy and always had a cold one in his hand. When it came to food, he liked a hearty plate of soul food; such as roasts and mashed potatoes, along with his favorite greens and yams. He read the daily newspaper, and liked having a good cup of coffee with his cigarettes. If he wasn’t watching sports on TV, Percy tuned into the news channels.
An exceptionally well read and knowledgeable man, Percy was into politics and science. He was a strong and faithful Democratic supporter. He always had something to say, and was quite the talker - at times peppering his language with a curse word or two. To say his language was colorful would be an understatement. When relaxing and simply just taking in life, Percy enjoyed the sounds of jazz while his pet bird, Red, a parrot, often kept him company. As an avid Scrabble player, playing his beloved game went right along with his paper, crossword puzzle, coffee, and Marlboros. He enjoyed watching his grandchildren who were the delight of his life.
Percy Hodge was a hardworking man who provided well for the family he adored. He had a big heart, and helped his family whenever he could. He so wanted to do more and help more, but the effect of smoking had taken its toll on his health. He began the habit at the age of 17, and continued to do so despite his having acquired COPD. Well-loved and deeply missed, the memory of Percy will remain in the hearts of all who knew him best.
Percy James Hodge, age 85, of Battle Creek, died on Sunday, August 9, 2015. He was preceded in death by his brother, Charles Hodge; and by his daughter, Florence Hodge. Members of his family include his wife of 32 years, Rubbie Hodge; five children: Joyce (Ralph) Beard, Kim Hodge, Stacey Hodge, Tamala Hodge and Joel (Lakeshia) Hodge; and a host of grandchildren.
Visit with Percy’s family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Saturday, August 15, 2015, from 6-8 PM at Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 375-2900. A graveside service will take place Monday, August 17, 2015, 1:00 PM at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Percy’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.