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  • "Bob was my father-in-law for 30 years and was always the..."
    - Kelly Hodges
  • "Dear Bob & Trae ~ We were so sad to hear about your dad and..."
    - Becky Setliff
  • "I grew up in our Kinston neighborhood with Bobby,his..."
  • "The Hodges Family, I have had the privilege of knowing..."
    - George Cox
  • "Dear Hodges Family, Coach Bob was dear to all of us at..."
    - Rev. Dr. Gil Gilbert
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Wilmington, N.C. - Robert Fields Hodges, member of both the East Carolina University and the North Carolina Sports Halls of Fame, passed away Friday, Sept. 21, in Greenville, N.C.

Bob was born Aug. 17, 1930, to Rena Mae Flowers and Floyd Hodges. He spent his childhood in Kinston, N.C., where he discovered his talent and passion for athletics. He starred in football and basketball at Grainger High School and remained a proud Red Devil all his life. Bob understood that the discipline of athletics and the involvement of caring coaches made all the difference in the path of his life, and he always strived to give that same strength of leadership to his players, his employees and his extended family.

Bob earned All-America honors in both basketball and football while attending East Carolina University. There he won the heart of ECU cheerleader Drue Bain of Erwin. They married in 1950 and were together until her death in 1993.

Bob later returned to ECU to obtain his master's degree in Education Administration.

Bob was a member of the ROTC at ECU and later served his country as a captain in the United States Air Force stationed at Nagoya, Japan, and Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. While in the Air Force, he began his basketball coaching career. After leaving the service, he was the head basketball coach at Frederick College in Portsmouth, Va., Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich., and Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, N.C. Bob remained close to many of his former players and closely followed their subsequent coaching careers. He was always happy to provide advice, solicited or unsolicited, on strategy or how to improve a player's shot.

After retiring from coaching, Bob was the headmaster of Cape Fear Christian Academy in Erwin, N.C., from 1978 to 1985. While living in Lillington, Bob became involved in Republican politics and later served in the administration of Governor Jim Martin. He joined the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles in 1987 and was appointed commissioner in 1991. He retired in 1993.

Bob was inducted in the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.

Bob and Drue retired to Wilmington, where Bob maintained an active lifestyle of golf, tennis and plenty of trips to see the Texas Longhorns basketball team and the ECU Pirates football squad. He spent time most days at the Wilmington YMCA, although he admitted that a larger percentage of time was devoted to socializing and relatively less in the actual gym.

Bob loved good food, good friends and a nice glass of Jack Daniel's. He was an excellent dancer and was looking forward to showing off his shagging moves at his great nephew's wedding. He was proud of his children and grandchildren, and also of the hundreds of young men he mentored in his coaching career.

Bob is survived by his longtime companion, Sarah Pearson of Wilmington, and his three children - Robert Fields Hodges, Jr. of Wilmington, Karen Hodges Matthews (Kim) of East Bend, N.C., and Sharon Hodges Hall (Charles) of Raleigh. He is also survived by five grandchildren - Robert Fields Hodges III, Kirk Fields Matthews (Emily), Kyle Hodges Matthews (Amy), Mary Drue Hall and Darcy Hines Hall, his siblings Geraldine Staton, and Neil Hodges, and a multitude of nieces, nephews and close friends.

Visitation will be at the Market Street Chapel of Andrews Mortuary, 1617 Market St. in Wilmington from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24. The Memorial Service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, also at Andrews Mortuary with a short graveside service to follow. Donations may be made to the Wilmington Family YMCA or the East Carolina Educational Foundation (the Pirate Club).

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Online condolences at

Published in the Wilmington Star-News from Sept. 23 to Sept. 24, 2012
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