Cleone Hodges celebrates 103 years of life
by Sherrie Norris
Within days of her 103rd birthday, Cleone Hodges has certainly not lacked inspiration.
It's been a long journey — and by all accounts, it's been a good one.
She doesn't talk much about anything these days. She's alert and lucid much of the time and, according to her caregivers who know her best, including her son J.B Hodges, she hasn't lost the wit for which she's long been known.
There's still a glimmer in her eye and a smile on her face that could cause a visitor to wonder if she's thinking about simpler times in life — perhaps when her greatest challenge was walking the greens or shooting hoops.
Hodges is among the most loved of local residents — and was a liberated woman long before the term was coined.
A Louisiana native, Hodges was born to Oscar and Lynn Haynes; she attended college at Northwestern State University of Louisiana and completed her graduate work at Louisiana State University.
She achieved early athletic success as a collegiate basketball player while attending LSU, where she once competed against famed athlete and Olympian Babe Didrikson.
She came to Boone in 1938 to teach health and physical education courses at Appalachian State Teachers College.
In the meantime, she met and married Jack A. Hodges, who she later divorced.
She retired from ASU as professor emerita in 1974. In 1987, the Cleone Haynes Hodges Scholarship was established to support the efforts of students in the College of Health Sciences.
She took up golfing with her son when he was in high school, and turned it into a daily pastime upon retirement.
She became an instant success on the greens with regional championships in 1968, 1975, 1979 and 1984. She went on to win 12 gold medals in the High Country Senior Games and eight gold medals at the North Carolina Senior Games. Nationally, she won three gold medals and two silver medals in senior competitions. At age 93 — in the last year of her golf career — she shot the last of three holes-in-one.
She also served 23 years as secretary for the local parks and recreation department.
In 2005, she was inducted into the Watauga County Sports Hall of Fame.
Hodges is a long-time member of First Baptist Church of Boone, where she was active for the majority of her adult life and served in numerous capacities, including that of Sunday school teacher.
She has always had a love for growing and arranging flowers, a hobby further nurtured thought her involvement with community garden clubs for many years. Today, myriad seasonal blooms continue to grow around her home from those seeds she planted long ago.
As a person with varied talents and skills, Hodges has also enjoyed designing and crafting trash can covers, as well as crocheting and hand sewing many of her clothing items.
She is the mother of one son, J.B. Hodges; her granddaughters, Erin and Alyssa, reside in the Hickory area with her three great-grandchildren Collin, Evelyn, Cleona.
On Sunday, July 15, the Hodges family will host an informal celebration in her honor at her 264 Green St. home in Boone. Friends and associates are invited to stop by with birthday wishes between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.