John Francis Hodge
1922 - 2014 PITTSFIELD John Francis Hodge, 91, died peacefully on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, at Baystate Medical Center. John was born in Grand Forks, N.D. on July 10, 1922, to Mary and Lillon Hodge. He was the youngest of 13 children. John attended school in Grand Forks. After completing school, John worked on farms in the Grand Forks area until enlisting in the Air Force in February 1942. John spent the next twenty years in the Air Force retiring in 1963. While in the Air Force, John worked his way through the ranks to achieve the rank of Master Sergeant. During his active duty he held a top secret clearance and was a bodyguard for many strategic air command Generals. John served during World War II
and the Korean War
and was stationed at various Air Force
bases throughout the world. Starting in 1953, John attended the Kodokan Judo Institute in Japan and was awarded his first grade black belt that year. Over the next ten years he worked his way to fourth grade black belt. As part of the Eighth Air force in the late 1950's, John led the Judo team that competed throughout the world. The team put on exhibitions and won many championships for which they received many commendation letters. While in the service John held other positions, running the USO in Roswell, N.M., riding with the Texas Rangers, and hosting judo teams from around the world, touring the United States. John received many medals and ribbons for his service in the Air Force. Upon retiring from active duty, John joined the Reserves and spent 10 years as a Reservist. John worked for Allied Carpet Cleaning before starting his own business, Royal Carpet Cleaning. After retiring from the rug cleaning business, John went to work for Hawthorne Services as a facility care taker, retiring in 1996. John enjoyed gardening, refurbishing religious statues, and decorating his house for holidays. He was devoted to Mount Carmel Church and was custodian at both the Church and at Mount Carmel School. John was a member of Mount Carmel Church for over 30 years where he was a Eucharistic Minister and member of the RCIA Team. He was a member of the American Legion and Disabled Veterans. John was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He leaves his wife of 30 years, Silvia Hodge; stepson and daughter-in-law, Frank and Evelyn LaRagione of Pittsfield, and his granddaughter, whom he adored, Ruth LaRagione. John was predeceased by his 12 siblings and first wife, Regina Smolarz Hodge. FUNERAL NOTICE: Friends and relatives may call at the Forastiere Funeral Home, 45 Locust Street, Springfield, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 15th. The funeral will follow at 11 a.m. at Mount Carmel Church, 123 William Street. Burial will be at a later date convenient to the family. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Soldier On 421 N. Main Street Bldg.6 Leeds, MA 01053-9764 and or St. Jude's Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105-1905, or to a charity of ones choice .