Frederick Neil Hodge, 86, died August 28, 2020, in Oak Brook, IL following a lengthy illness.

Fred will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 61 years, Janet (Klingler) Hodge; daughters Jennifer Hodge Jerzyk (Greg), Lisa (Hodge) Knowles (Mark), Carla (Hodge) Trupp, grandchildren Laura (Jerzyk) Rodgers (Quinn), Emma Jerzyk, Madelyn Knowles, Erik Knowles, G Trupp, Daniel Trupp, Della Trupp, his sisters; Carol (Hodge) Bourne, Sue (Hodge) Merrigan (Tom), and many close friends.

Fred Hodge was born on June 10, 1934, in the farmhouse of his mother’s family farm in Pinconning, Michigan. His childhood was spent in the Allegan State Forest where his father was a forester for the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He developed a love of nature and strong sense of direction and purpose that would serve him well throughout his life. As a youngster, his family moved to the city, and he was allowed to ride his motorbike from East Lansing to Pinconning where he spent summers helping on his grandparents’ farm. There, he was tasked with an array of farm chores, from picking quarts of strawberries and bushels of cucumbers to reducing an overly abundant population of barn sparrows. He became an excellent shot by hunting fowl and enjoyed fly fishing, especially for salmon on the Kenai River in Alaska, having spent time outdoors throughout his adult life. As a teenager, Fred was a member of the East Lansing, Michigan chapter of Demolay and achieved the highest degree for service.

He earned a BS in Hotel Management from Michigan State University in 1956 where he lettered with the Rifle Team, and was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity. He spent two summers during college working at a Brown’s Lake Resort in Wisconsin, manning their front desk where he met the love of his life, Janet Ann Klingler. They were engaged in March of 1957 at the chapel on Webb Air Force Base in Big Spring, Texas, and married in Donnellson, Iowa, on October 4th, 1958. They honeymooned in the Ozarks, fishing, of course.

Fred was drafted and served in the United States Air Force for two years, as a First Lieutenant on Andrews Air Force Base (now Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility) outside of Washington, DC. He trained as a pilot on a T-34 and flew hundreds of flights across the country in peacetime, training WWII pilots to fly T-33 jets. He flew the last five B-25 planes used in WWII to their boneyard in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. His first job after military service was managing the front desk at the Benson Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Later, he managed Alderbrook Inn on the Hood Canal in Washington State until his wife spotted a job advertisement for commercial airline pilots in the local paper.

He began work for United Airlines as a second officer on November 2, 1964, and following flight school in Denver, Colorado, the family relocated to Elmhurst, Illinois. For 30 years he flew over 13,500 flight hours beginning in the DC-6 and Vickers Viscount prop plane to his final commercial flight from San Francisco to Chicago in a Boeing 747 jumbo jet on June 10, 1994. During the last three years of his commercial airline career he flew as Captain on the Boeing 747 based in Honolulu, Hawai’i, although he continued to live in the Chicago area.

In 1994, the United Boeing 727 airplane, which he flew in service, was installed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. He volunteered as a docent at the exhibit, giving first-hand accounts of many flights for the next 25 years.

In the early ’80s he purchased the small business Roy-L Rentals. He also purchased a property on North Avenue in Villa Park, Illinois, where he oversaw construction of a large commercial building into which he moved the business. He grew the business to include truck rental and 1,001 tools that he always wanted to own. The business employed many friends and family over the years. He also invested in other commercial real estate around Chicago, and along with a friend, Duane Stevenson, converted the Stonegate Terrace apartments in Elmhurst to condominiums in the mid ’70s.

Throughout his life, Fred was active in the Boy Scouts of America, now Scouts BSA, earning the rank of Eagle in 1952. In retirement, he taught thousands of Scouts and youth to fly fish, served on the committee that created the Boy Scouts Fly Fishing Merit Badge, and became the 23rd person to receive the Certified Angler Instructor from the BSA. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the BSA Fishing Committee in 2015. He attended his first Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley Forge, PA, in 1950. He led a Boy Scout troop as the Scout Master at Grace Lutheran Church in Bensenville, IL, between 1966-68. He taught fly fishing at the BSA National Jamborees in 2005, 2010, 2013, and 2017 at the newly opened Summit Bechtel Reserve National Scouting Center in West Virginia. He received the Silver Beaver Award in 2017 from the Three Fires Council of Illinois.

He was an active member of DuPage River Fly Tiers (DRIFT) and Trout Unlimited for over 25 years including teaching veterans to fly fish through the ‘Project Healing Waters’. He received Trout Unlimited’s Youth Education service award in 2010, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Oak Brook Trout Unlimited. He was frequently sought out for fly specimen recommendations for waters in various parts of the United States.

Fred became a Master Mason in 1957, rose to 32nd Degree and became a Shriner. He volunteered with the Aviator Group of the Medinah Shriners who flew pediatric burn victims for treatment to specialized burn centers, free of charge. He was a member of the Elmhurst Rotary Club. He was an active member at the First United Methodist Church in Elmhurst for over 55 years, serving in many roles including Chairman of the Endowment Committee. Fred led his family on many travel adventures while their girls were growing up, from backpacking in the Olympic National Forest and Estes Park in Colorado, house boating in the San Juan Islands, to global air trips. All three daughters credit their adventurous spirits to these fun-filled family travels. In addition, he was host dad to three international students, Heloisa de Arruda Cuha, from Brazil, Seija Ottama, from Finland, and Ana Maria Miro, from Venezuela.

He and his wife traveled often throughout their lives, visiting over 33 countries and six continents. However, their favorite destination, where friends and family joined them regularly, was their vacation home on Kaua’i.

An outdoor visitation will be held on Friday, September 11th at Wilder Park in Elmhurst in the tent on the south side of the greenhouse between 5 p.m. and 7p.m. (Enter the parking lot from Prospect Ave.) A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 12th at 11:00 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Elmhurst, 232 S. York Street, Elmhurst. Covid safety measures will be observed. Refer to Elmhurst Community Funeral Home – THE AHLGRIM CHAPEL 630-834-3515 or www.ElmhurstFH.com for more details and an online link to watch the service remotely.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in his memory may be made to Trout Unlimited Oak Brook Chapter Youth Scholarships, the Endowment Fund at the First United Methodist Church of Elmhurst, and Three Fires Council Boy Scouts of America.

 

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