POLLY HODGES

Obituary
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There will never be another Polly Hodges, a master teacher, devoted family member and unforgettable friend who died Tuesday, Feb. 12, from complica-tions after a fall. She was 75. Polly taught first-graders and other young children for more than four decades, nearly all of that at Holly Hill Elementary School. Teacher colleagues and former students, as well as neighbors, loyally visited her through her health crisis of recent months. Polly grew up in Atlanta, overcoming serious childhood illness that subjected her to long hospital confinements, and possibly quickened her love of reading and her vivid imagination. Her parents, Carl and Pauline Hodges, gave her piano lessons, and she quickly showed considerable talent, learning both classical and popular numbers. She graduated from Atlanta's Bass High School and from Brenau College in Gainesville, Ga., where she majored in music, giving recitals in piano and organ, and minored in education. She applied for a job as a music teacher in Suwannee, Ga., but was offered a first-grade class and found her calling. She continued her career in Florida, and came to Holly Hill in 1966, teaching there until her retirement in 2002. Polly earned a master's degree in the teaching of reading from Stetson University in 1981. She belonged to Mu Phi Epsilon, a national music honor society, and was local treasurer of Phi Delta Kappa, an international association of educators. She was recognized as a Distinguished Educator, and by inclusion in Who's Who Among America's Teachers. Hundreds of children learned not only to read, but to love to read, thanks to Polly. She had her own techniques, including assigning children to memorize poems by Robert Frost. Polly went the extra mile and more for her students, particularly those from poor families, regularly loading them into her car to give them "extras" at her expense, such as trips to Disney World. She had a piano in her classroom, and accompanied countless school programs. Though she was an uncommonly dedicated teacher, Polly had a life beyond the classroom. She was a keen photographer and avid bridge player. She loved reading novels, watching movies, playing the scores of Broadway musicals and following British royalty. NASA had no more devoted fan than Polly, who often brought her first-graders outside to watch space launchings, and deeply grieved after the Challenger disaster. More than just about anything, Polly loved to drive around Florida, and probably logged more miles than most long-distance truckers. A trip with Polly was a history lesson, since she seemed to know every historical marker, ruined hotel and ancient life oak. Polly was a devoted sister to her late brother, Jake, and her late sisters, Sarah and Zora. With Zora and Dick Manley, Polly's beloved brother-in-law, she had many happy summer visits to the Appalachian Mountains. Polly lovingly cared for her mother in the latter's last months at a Daytona nursing home. True to form, Polly befriended nearly every resident, lifting their spirits by drawing out their stories, and playing their requested tunes on the piano. If they didn't have a request, she'd play one of her favorites, including "Waltzing Matilda" – her signature tune. Though Polly attended church and carefully read the Bible, she shared her Christian faith most conspicuously through service – as an educator, family member and friend. Polly never married. She's survived by nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and great-grand nephews, and by many friends. All share in gratitude for this remarkable life. The funeral will be Saturday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, 118 N. Palmetto Ave. Visitation is at the church, beginning at 1 p.m. Memorials can be made to Holly Hill School, 1500 Center St., Holly Hill, FL 32117. Condolences may be made at www.dalewoodwardfuneralhomes.com.

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Published in Daytona Beach News-Journal from Feb. 14 to Feb. 15, 2013
bullet Teachers
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