Andrew Gerow Hodges, a longtime member of and former chairman of the Samford University Board of Trustees, died Thursday, Oct. 13. Mr. Hodges, a 1942 Samford graduate who supported his alma mater in numerous ways over the years, was 87.
Hodges was elected a trustee in 1962 and held many positions of leadership on the board. He was chairman of the search committee that was responsible for President Thomas E. Corts coming to Samford in 1983.
"His warm smile, gentle spirit, and total devotion to this University will be sorely missed and forever remembered," Dr. Corts said in an e-mail message to the Samford community. "He loved this place, realized its true potential, and never hesitated to say a good word, and to persist in saying good words in its behalf."
Hodges was a retired executive vice president of Liberty National Life Insurance Company (now Torchmark) of Birmingham, and was mentored by brothers Dwight and Ralph Beeson at the company during his early years there. Hodges was among the first to draw the Beesons' interest to Samford, Dr. Corts noted, and the family ultimately donated more than $100 million to the University.
Hodges was a patriot who volunteered for duty in the American Red Cross after being declared unfit for military service during World War II because of a football injury suffered during playing days at Samford, then Howard College. He was attached to the 94th Infantry in western Europe, and his exploits ultimately resulted in the freedom of 149 Allied prisoners of war from German prison camps during late 1944. He received the Bronze Star for his actions. The episode is portrayed in the video documentary, For One English Officer.
"Thanks to Hodges, we survived," said former POW Wayne Stewart of Wenatchee, Wash., one of 12 former prisoners who attended a reunion hosted by Samford in 2002.
A native of Geneva, Ala., Hodges returned to Birmingham after World War II and began his career with Liberty National in 1946, working with the company until retirement in 1984. Throughout his adult life, he worked on behalf of numerous local charities as well as his church, Dawson Memorial Baptist. He was honored with local and national awards from the Boy Scouts of America.
Samford honored Hodges by naming Divinity Chapel of Beeson Divinity School the Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel in November of 2002. A campus street leading to Beeson Woods residential village also bears his name.
Hodges is survived by his wife, the former Mary Louise Shirley; two sons, Dr. Andrew Gerow Hodges, Jr., and Gregory R. Hodges, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Services for Hodges were Sunday, Oct. 16, at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood, Ala. Burial followed at Elmwood Cemetery.