Rev. James E. Hodges Sr., 65, pharmacist, preacher

March 16, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons and Joan Jacobson | Sheridan Lyons and Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

The Rev. James E. Hodges Sr. found one of his callings in the late 1940s, when he worked part-time for a Baltimore druggist while still a student at Douglass High School.

Seven years later, he became the first African-American graduate of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, according to a school official.

Mr. Hodges died of a heart attack Tuesday at his longtime home in the 1900 block of E. Belvedere Ave. He was 65.

Mr. Hodges also earned a master's degree in urban planning from Morgan State University in 1975 and a doctorate in behavioral pharmacology from Union Institute in Cincinnati in 1991.

Devoting much of his life to working with addicts, he was a top official for more than 10 years with the state Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration.

"He believed that addiction is a lifelong issue and people need support -- not just the addict but the whole family," said his daughter, Lisa Rene Hodges of Baltimore. "He got a lot of calls at all hours. I talked to people who said my father had saved their lives at a time when they were really on the edge."

This counseling work meshed with his 30 years as an "itinerant elder" for the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Ms. Hodges said, preaching and serving as a pastor at churches from Baltimore to a crossroads in Talbot County.

Mr. Hodges also studied piano at the Peabody Institute for 10 years and enjoyed playing "spirituals, ballads and Sarah Vaughan" throughout his life.

"He was a busy, busy man," his daughter said. Even as he slowed down in the last few years, she said, he was active in a mentoring program at the School of Pharmacy.

Born in Baltimore in 1932 as James Sylvester Rainey, he was adopted as a child and his name changed after his mother died. He was a 1950 graduate of Douglass High School.

"It was during high school that he worked at Caplan's Drug Store [in the 600 block of Carey St.] that inspired him to become a pharmacist," Ms. Hodges said. "He started as a clerk and after he graduated, he went back to Caplan's to work as a pharmacist in 1957."

It was at Caplan's that the young James Hodges worked with his childhood friend, J. Tyson Tildon, now a neuroscientist and president of the Baltimore school board.

"He was very studious," said Mr. Tildon, explaining that they would have "intellectual competitions" on subjects ranging from "how to play chess to some of the basic challenges in the world at the time. We would read things and challenge each other."

Mr. Hodges' studies at Maryland were interrupted from 1952 to 1954 when he served in the Army as a radio instructor at Camp Gordon, Ga.

He worked as a pharmacist at several local hospitals. At the old Provident Hospital during the early 1970s, he developed the ADAPT program for the treatment of substance abusers in large numbers, Ms. Hodges said.

In the late 1970s, he became chief of planning for the state Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration. He retired in 1992.

He was a Prince Hall Mason and a member of the Phalanx social and community service fraternity that focused on three basic elements -- spirit, body and mind.

In 1968, Mr. Hodges became an associate pastor of Payne Memorial AME Church, 1714 Madison Ave.

The family will receive visitors at the church from 12: 30 p.m. to 1: 30 p.m. today and services will follow immediately.

Mr. Hodges also is survived by his wife of 32 years, the former Gertrude Theresa Jones; two sons, James Elmer Hodges Jr. of Baltimore and Victor Jason Hodges of Columbus, Ohio; three sisters, Doris Rainey of Benton Harbor, Mich., and Bernice Lewis and Jean Pitts, both of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/16/98

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