Robert (Bob) S. Hodges, age 98, “grabbed a fistful of throttle” and rode off into the sunset on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at Aspirus Keweenaw, following a short illness. Bob was born in the Calumet Public Hospital on November 18, 1924, the son of Stewart and Olive (Trebilcock) Hodges. He lived in Centennial Heights for most of his adult life, living for a short time in Stambaugh, MI. He was a skilled Master Plumber, groomed by his father Stewart, and passed this craft along to his son Dan, also a Master Plumber. They worked side-by-side for many years in Hodges Plumbing and Heating.
Bob lived a life of purpose and adventure. His passions were strong and his determination and independence undeniable. Bob was an avid motorcyclist, beagle owner, rabbit hunter, trapper, and deer hunter. He taught his boys and grandsons many of those skills. He did much of his hunting on his property in the Ewen area, using an old bus as his deer camp. He was amazed when he realized that he held a deer hunting license for 60 consecutive years. He recently remarked that he missed more bucks than he shot. He was also a fisherman and a huge Tigers baseball fan, a Lionsfootball fan, and a very competitive bowler and golfer. He last bowled when he was in his 90s. Bob loved the beat of a good tune and his dancin’ shoes never faltered!
In 1982, Bob accompanied his sons Dan and Bill intothe Teton Wilderness area of Wyoming on horseback with combined licenses for elk, mule deer and antelope. The successful hunt yielded one elk and two antelope with Bob making the shot of a lifetime on an antelope at full stride. Family and friends knew wellBob’s love of the sun and would often find Bob shirtless outside working or sitting/sleeping in his chair “taking sun.” He also loved the sun in Daytona Beach where he wintered for over 40 years, most of those years with his wife Eunice.
He and his wife Eunice (Salmela) were married in 1947 and swiftly took off on Bob’s 1946-45cc Harley Davidson Flathead to Nuevo, Mexico (mainly on dirt roads) and back for their honeymoon. This started 50+ years of motorcycle travel with Eunice that coveredmost of the U.S. and Canada. He owned at least 16 motorcycles starting with Harleys, then moving to Nortons, Hondas, Bultacos, and then back to Harleys, which he loved for the sound of the pipes. Many of his bikes were not cruisers but bikes that used all of his stamina and tenacity to handle, just the way he liked it.Bob’s love of motorcycles was passed along to all of his five children who were owners and riders of motorcycles. He had many stories of his motorcycle escapades, including when he and Eunice were riding high in the mountains enroute to California in 1970 to see their son Tom, who was in the Marines, and it was so freezing cold that he had to start a small fire under the crankcase to get the bike started. When he was 95, Bob still rode his most recent Harley, a 2014 Harley SuperGlide, much to the chagrin of his children. But,as Bob often exclaimed, “I’m the boss of Bob”— and off he rode, fearless, independent and free, an attitude that surely helped carry him to 98-years young.
When Bob was 83, he rode his motorcycle along with his son Bill and daughter-in-law Jill to the Sturgis, SD Motorcycle Rally. He earned a patch in Sturgis that says “I Rode Mine.” It was a tough journey and even though weather was challenging along the way with tremendous winds and heat, he pushed through. He and his daughter Lynne were still riding together locally as late as 2019. They often rode throughout Houghton, Keweenaw and Baraga Counties.
In 2021, Lynne took Bob to Manitoba, Canada to visit his daughter Louise and rode in a quad (4-wheeler) while experiencing the thrill of watching his grandson harvest a wild boar. He loved being on Louise and Jack’s farm and enjoyed all the activity there with many of his grandchildren.
To speak about Bob’s relationship with the sauna in Centennial Heights, and his longtime friends and family that joined him, is to step on sacred ground. It was known throughout the family that a wedding, funeral, christening, or special occasion of any kind could not take place on Wednesday or Saturday between 2-5pm due to “Sauna in Heights.” He continued that tradition at the Bluffs where he continued taking saunas as often as he could.
Bob was a WWII Veteran, serving with the Navy Seabees and stationed on Okinawa and other South Pacific Islands. He would often reminisce about his service mates and “5 o’clock Charlie” that would fly over the islands “to remind them” of why they were there.
Eunice, his wife of 59 years, preceded him in death in 2006. They shared a life of hard work, commitment,and pride in what they built together. Bob was also preceded in death by his son Tom and granddaughter Wendy. He is survived by his son Dan (Debra) Hodgesof Centennial Heights, son Bill (Jill) Hodges of Big Traverse, daughter Lynne (Tom) Ruby of Allouez, and daughter Louise (Jack) Mahon of Holland Manitoba, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He lived at the Bluffs in Houghton for his last few years,enjoying time with his pinochle, meal and bowling partners. Yet, Bob would return home to Centennial Heights for the summers to keep his bird feeders free of racoons and squirrels. His window screens tell the tale of his accurate marksmanship.
Bob was an incredible force of nature and never satisfied with the status quo. He built a fierce legacy of love, strength, and respect. He will be deeply missed by those who shared his life.
Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday, January 24, 2023 at 12:30 PM in the Faith Lutheran Church in Calumet with Pastor Jared Howard to officiate. Friends may call at the Erickson Crowley Peterson Funeral
Home on Tuesday from 10-12:00
Online condolences can be left for the family at ericksoncrowleypeterson.com
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly in Hancock or the Copper Country Angel Mission in Calumet.