Gary I. Hodgson Sr. died at the age of 80 on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 at his home in Upper Providence Twp. Over the course of his life, Hodgson served as a patrolman, police officer, actor, detective, bodyguard for three previous presidents, broadcaster for CBS Radio and ABC TV, golfer, football announcer, professional baseball player, and of course, as a beloved Ursinus Campus Safety Officer.
After graduating from Girard College in 1956 with a degree in business, Hodgson attained degrees from Temple and St. Joseph’s University in communications and criminal justice. Following college, Hodgson worked as a detective with the Philadelphia Police Department, investigating missing children’s cases. Working his way up from there, he was eventually assigned to the Intelligence Unit and, alongside the Secret Service, guarded Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon.
After his work in criminal justice, Hodgson was approached about his great radio voice, and by chance, moved into radio as a broadcaster for CBS. His show climbed to the #1 position in its time-slot. In Sept. of 1990, Hodgson joined the Ursinus community as a Campus Safety Officer, where he stayed for the next 27 years.
Hodgson was known for his long conversations with students. Despite the generational difference, he always knew how to make students laugh. For Alyse Brewer ‘17, Hodgson was a best friend. Hodgson walked Alyse Brewer across the stage for her graduation.
Brewer talked about how seeing Hodgson always made her happier. “He was probably one of my best friends, and his death was very difficult for me. It didn’t matter if you knew him for 10 minutes or for 10 years, he always made people feel special.”
For Hodgson, “nothing was too serious. He had a way of making things light and funny,” added Brewer.
Hodgson was known for his charismatic, personable, and humorous storytelling. Brewer still remembers the story of how Hodgson got the golf cart stuck in the mud past the abandoned lot behind New in April. Hodgson came back from New covered in mud and told everyone what had happened. Or how, on multiple occasions, Hodgson accidentally deleted the entire Campus Safety drive off of the computer, something not even Tech Support could recover. And the one Halloween when Hodgson dyed his hair brown, making a mess of a hotel room. He later claimed “It looks like I murdered someone in there.” Hodgson’s storytelling and adventures are remembered by many students.
Hodgson was a close friend to Lindsay Budnick, recent Ursinus alumna of the class of 2011. A video posted by Ursinus College Campus Safety shows the two of them riding on a tandem bicycle in Olin Plaza. Budnick passed away in a car accident after graduation, but her memory was carried on by Hodgson and the Campus Safety team.
“That bike got thrown out in the dumpster,” said Anthony Bruno, a Campus Safety officer and dear friend to Hodgson. “That bike was special, so I ended up refurbishing it. I still have it in my house, to this day. Just to have it for the memories.”
Hodgson and Bruno had worked side-by-side for 10 years.
“[We were like] Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin,” said Bruno, “As soon as we met in the interview, we hit it off. We never had any disagreements. We were like brothers. You would have never known the age difference.”
Hodgson was a quintessential member of the Ursinus community. As the Ursinus webpage proudly boasts, most of us are a little bit of, well, everything–including the hardworking faculty, staff, and Campus Safety officers that work here. His expansive career, deep relationships with students, and passion for everything that he did made him a perfect fit for the Ursinus Community–a community which he called home. He will be dearly missed.