A Life Well-Lived
Deacon Willie “Sonny” Hodges, Sr. was born on December 20, 1929 to Willie and Evelyn Hodges in Belzoni, Mississippi. In 1948, Willie was united in holy matrimony to Mable Holland (deceased) in Greenwood, Mississippi. From this union was born their three children Margaret and Willie Jr. (both deceased) and Wayne Hodges. In an effort to seek greater opportunities for their family, the Hodges moved to Newark, NJ in 1951. After several jobs in restaurants, Willie was hired at Fedders Air Conditioning in Woodbridge, NJ, where he was a dedicated employee for 24 years. Soon after retiring, Willie started a career as a chef at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Lyons, NJ. He enjoyed his work and remained employed for another 19 years before his second retirement in 1995.
Brother Hodges rededicated his life and commitment to Jesus Christ at Community Baptist Church located in North Plainfield, NJ in 1970. During his tenure at Community Baptist, he served as an Usher and Sunday School Teacher. It was during this time of service unto the Lord where he was initially ordained as a Deacon, thus becoming as many affectionately referred to him as, “Deacon Willie Hodges” or “Deac”.
For Deacon Hodges taking care of his family was a high priority. In 1970, he had a single-family home built in South Plainfield, NJ, which was a major accomplishment for that time in our nation’s history. He took great pride in maintaining and upgrading his home. Being very skilled with his hands, he enjoyed all types of do it yourself household improvements, including painting the inside and planting landscaping on the outside.
While working at the VA Medical Center, Willie met Jackie Montgomery. At the time, neither of them knew that God was gifting them both with an opportunity for a loving relationship. Willie married the love of his life on June 19, 1994. Willie and Jackie were a warm and loving couple and their home was always ready on a moment’s notice to entertain family and friends. Together they lived life to the fullest by serving others and sharing a life filled with love and support of their blended growing families. They enjoyed, dressing alike in bright colors, fellowshipping with the saints at church events, hosting back-yard cook-outs and family reunions, attending holiday parades, traveling, taking Caribbean cruises, babysitting the grands, and attending a myriad of family events including weddings, sporting events, dance recitals, birthday celebrations and graduations.
The happy couple became members of Christ Church in Montclair, NJ where they served in several ministries for 15 years. On June 8, 2007, Willie was ordained as a Deacon for a second time, and Jackie was ordained as a Deaconess. Over the years, Willie received many awards, accolades, and acknowledgements for his hard work, dedication, and excellence in service, one of which included “Father of the Year” presented by their pastor Rev. Dr. David Ireland.
When he started to experience medical challenges later in his life, Willie and Jackie saw the need to transfer their church membership to a local house of worship. By the Spirit of the Lord, they were lead to join First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ where Rev. Dr. DeForrest Soaries is the Senior Pastor. Deacon Hodges was a servant-leader and was faithful to the Seniors Fellowship Ministry. Every Tuesday afternoon, Deacon Hodges enjoyed participating in the devotionals and the Bible Study. He also served on the Missionary Ministry, where he visited the sick and shut-in. Out of all the aspects of service, he enjoyed praying for and with people. He was spiritually strong and compassionate. Deacon Hodges had a big heart. He loved and cherished his family, friends, and the saints of God.
On November 19, 2019, Will and Jackie celebrated their Silver Anniversary, marking 25 years of love and holy matrimony. On December 20, 2019, his devoted wife Jackie orchestrated Willie’s 90th Birthday party, where family and friends came together to celebrate a life well-lived that gave glory to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Deacon Willie Hodges peacefully departed from this life-to-life eternal at their home under the persistent, dutiful care of his loving wife Jackie on Friday, July 3, 2020. He was preceded in death by his beloved parents Willie and Evelyn Hodges; four sisters: Oralee Boone, Lucille Littlepage, Dorothy Reed, and Lorene Netters; two brothers Pastor John Harris and Cleveland Hodges; his daughter Margaret and son Willie, Jr. (aka “Sugg”).
He leaves to cherish his memory, his loving, dedicated, and devoted wife of 25 years Deaconess Jackie Hodges, his son Wayne Hodges and wife Shonda of Miami, FL; a sister Pat Ray Bell of Irvington, NJ; a brother Dr. Leroy Hodges, Sr. of Princeton, NJ; 8 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and a host of nieces and nephews.
As a blended family, he leaves behind Kevin and Kelly Williams of Jackson, NJ; Robin and Steve Yarborough of North Brunswick, NJ; Vaughn and Eileen Williams of Boston, MA; Thomas Johnson of Kennesaw, GA, and 9 grandchildren.
His Lord said to him, “Well done thy good and faithful servant, thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”. Matt 25:21 KJV
“Deac”, “Deacon Hodges”, “Sunny”, “Pop”, “Grandpa”, we will miss him more than words can express.
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