By Maggie Mah
Special to The Almanac
A celebration of the life of former Woodside Town Council member Carroll Ann Hodges, who died at the age of 82 on the evening of March 2 after a long illness, is set for Sunday, March 31.
"She was an irrepressible force of nature," former town manager Susan George said, also praising Hodges as a brilliant scientist and dedicated volunteer.
"She was an amazing person extremely intelligent and able to articulate her ideas with clear conviction," said George, who worked closely with Hodges during her three terms on the council. "When she championed something, she dedicated a tireless passion to it and was not shy about sharing it with everyone around her. Horses, the environment, open space, the general plan, and keeping Woodside 'rural' were just a few of the things that she cared about." Hodges lived her last years in the Woodside home she designed herself, supported by friends and caregivers.
The younger daughter of Thomas and Thelma Hodges, Carroll Ann Hodges was born in Pomona, California, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and Austin, Texas. Summers were spent in the Missouri Ozarks, which Hodges would later say inspired her lifelong interest in nature.
During summer breaks from college, she worked as a camp counselor with the camp's riding program, an experience she credited with solidifying an early interest in horses into an enduring passion.
"The moment I got my first job, I bought a beautiful young chestnut and named him Torch," Hodges would recall. She later moved to California towing her horse over the Rockies with her iconic red 1964 Mustang and matching one-horse trailer. Both vehicles and her third horse, Midnight, remained with her to the end
Hodges, who had a long career as a research geologist at the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, was a founding member of WHOA! and was honored with the group's Hall of Fame Award in 2017. She was also a member of The Shack Riders, The Woodside Trail Club and The San Mateo County Horsemen.
Hodge's mother held a master's degree in English and taught at the University of Texas and other institutions. Her father, a civil engineer, worked in the private sector. "I believe academic excellence was expected," noted Hodges' cousin, Scott Carroll.
Hodges' decision to pursue a career in geology also occurred at a time when gender bias against women in the physical sciences was the norm. She persevered and went on to graduate from the University of Texas; obtain a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and earned her doctorate from Stanford in 1966.
In 1970, she joined the USGS and led a distinguished career until her retirement in 1995. Beginning her work in the earthly realm of mineral extraction, Hodges eventually shifted to planetary geology, a field that involved the analysis of extraterrestrial bodies for future space exploration.
She produced professional papers such as "Geology of the Apollo 16 Area" for NASA and was lead author on "Atlas of Volcanic Landforms on Mars," a work that her cousin, Scott Carroll, says "is a testament to her leadership and productivity as a planetary geologist and also an intriguing thing for anyone's neighbor to have actually created."
In 1981, Hodges was named Congressional Science Fellow by the American Geophysical Union, and spent a year in Washington, D.C., evaluating the economic and environmental impacts of locating intercontinental ballistic missiles in Nevada. Hodges, who later wrote three articles for the American Geophysical Union about being a science fellow on Capitol Hill, said that the experience influenced her decision to get involved with local government. "My experience in Washington convinced me irrevocably that local government matters and one person can make a difference," she wrote in the AGU's EOS publication.
Hodges was elected to the Town Council in 1997, representing District 6. Her prior service included several terms on the Planning Commission and participation in two ad hoc committees.
According to Susan George, Hodges served as mayor during a very contentious period in the town's history. "Playing fields were a huge issue," George said. Noting that Hodges' support of the creation of Barkley Field was key, she added, "If she were here today, she would probably point to that as a major achievement."
Hodges helped found the Open Space Committee (now Environment: Open Space, Conservation & Sustainability Committee), and remained a member until recently. She also served on the San Mateo County Fish & Wildlife Advisory Committee, and was a member of the Committee for Green Foothills Board of Directors.
Hodges' talents extended to include music and poetry. She played clarinet in the Woodside Village Band and enjoyed having friends sing along with tunes she played on her piano. This writer has fond memories of going house to house on horseback singing Christmas carols in the company of Hodges and her horse, Mr. President. She could also be counted on to write limericks for special occasions.
"She publicly graced me with more than one of her masterpieces during the years we worked together," George recalled.
Hodges loved to entertain, and enjoyed bringing people around her table. The table, which Hodges had made herself, could seat 12 and was the setting for a number of council dinners. It was often decorated with her unique collection of animal fetishes from the Southwest.
"Carroll Ann was one of a kind," George said. "She dedicated so much of her life to Woodside and her undaunted sense of volunteerism is already missed."
Hodges is survived by her sister, Margaret Hodges of Alexandria, Virginia; and cousins Scott Carroll of Davis, California, and Anne Carroll of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Memorial donations in her name can be made to the Woodside Community Foundation - General Fund. Donations can be made online here.
Celebration of life
The celebration of Carroll Ann Hodges' life will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 31, at Independence Hall, 2955 Woodside Road in Woodside. Western attire and short limericks are encouraged.