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Maria Denend Hodgson


1920 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Maria Denend Hodgson Obituary
October 13, 1920 - October 29, 2016 Maria Denend Hodgson passed away October 29, after a brief illness. She was 96. Maria, a second-generation Californian, was born in Oakland, California October 13, 1920. Her grandmother was born in a covered wagon in Utah, on the way west to California's Gold Country. Her parents, Jesse and Jessie Denend, were born in California's Amador County in the late 19th Century. The youngest and only girl in the Denend's rambunctious family of five children, her life spanned the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War and the counterculture 60s and 70s, the turning of the century, the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the Great Recession. The only one of her siblings to attend university, she was awarded a BS in education from UCLA and, later in life, an MS in Guidance and Counseling from California State University, Northridge. She was a pilot, an educator and a diplomat. At the end of her life she became most proud of her ability to fly; she learned at Van Nuys airport, in 1941. She later taught elementary school and, together with her husband, James Day Hodgson, whom she married in August 1943, spent decades in government service. Maria spoke extensively across the United States during her husband's tenure as U.S. Under Secretary and Secretary of Labor, from 1968 to 1972, and was the first lady of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, during her husband's tenure as Ambassador, from 1974 to 1978. She remained active in Los Angeles' Japanese-American community for the rest of her life. For her efforts on behalf of Japan-America relations, she was awarded the order of the Sacred Treasure by His Majesty Emperor Akihito of Japan. She is survived by her son, Fredrick Jesse Hodgson, of Malibu and Gisbourne, New Zealand; her daughter Nancy Nachman Hunt, of Boulder, Colorado; and three grandchildren, Russell Nachman, of Brooklyn, New York; Kirk Nachman, also of Brooklyn; and Skye Morse Hodgson, also of Brooklyn.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 9, 2016
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