Council recognizes devoted Islander who’s leaving the place she loves

Jennie Hodgson has served in many community roles. - Amelia Heagerty/staff photo
Jennie Hodgson has served in many community roles.
— image credit: Amelia Heagerty/staff photo

An Islander who’s made her mark in many community arenas is leaving Vashon this fall, and the community council plans to send her off with fanfare.

Jennie Hodgson, 78, has worked to get the vote out on Vashon, to improve Island education and to make the streets of Vashon safer. And her dedication to the community she loves has effected change, Islanders said.

“She is a leader, not a follower,” said Islander Ellen Kritzman, a member of the Vashon Democratic Club and the League of Women Voters. “Anything she touched, she bettered or made progress on. ... She’s a real activist.”

Hodgson — as a member of the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council’s board, the school board and the Democratic Club as well as a leader in the League of Women Voters Vashon unit — has fought for the issues that matter to her — safety, government and education.

“Every one of those roles she has filled ... she has made a difference,” Kritzman said.

She’s leaving the Island in September because of ill health, but she’s sad to say goodbye to the Island she’s called home for 22 years.

“I’ll miss everything,” she said. “I’ll miss the people mostly. I’ll miss the moderation of the climate. I’ll miss when you’re watching a ball game back East and you can get to bed at a decent hour.”

Hodgson will move to Annapolis, Md., to be closer to her two daughters and extended family, all of whom live on the East Coast. Her health problems began two years ago with a broken shoulder, and since, she’s suffered from heart and breathing problems and was near death in the beginning of 2008.

Last year, Hodgson was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she underwent surgery to have the lump removed, she doesn’t know her prognosis, she said.

“It was small and it was early,” she said. “Most people pull through. I try not to think about it.”

Hodgson’s warm personality and bright sense of humor shine as soon as people meet her, friends said. She’s “a very down-to-earth person you could easily get to know and would like immediately,” Kritzman said.

“She helped keep things positive” on the school board, said board member Dan Chasan, who served with Hodgson for some of her eight years on the board from 1991 to 1999.

“She’s a lot tougher than anybody realized,” he added. “We’ll miss her presence and her steady work for the community.”

As the founder of the community council’s public safety committee, Hodgson worked to reduce speeding on Beall Road, teach bicycle safety and help Vashon get prepared for an emergency.

Though she was a kindergarten teacher for 30 years, she’s really been cut out for local politics, she noted.

“I have been interested in government since I was 10 years old. My earliest memory is listening to a national convention on the radio,” Hodgson said.

The community council’s board, which Hodgson was a member of until last year, has named July 20 “Jennie Hodgson Day.” The board wanted to honor a woman who’s been deeply involved in the community, said board member Hilary Emmer.

“I think she’s a ray of light and someone who’s always thinking very clearly,” said council president Jean Bosch, adding that it was Hodgson who encouraged her to get involved with the community council.

Hodgson, for her part, said she’s a little embarrassed about the Monday named after her.

“I think I’ll slink out of town,” she joked. “I really could do very nicely without a Jennie Hodgson Day.”

After her failing health became more pervasive, Hodgson said she now treasures each day.

“I would say that I enjoy life,” she said. “I know I’m not going to live forever, but I would like to know how things turn out, so I’ll stick around as long as I can. I wake up in the morning and I’m so glad that I’m here.”

Jennie Hodgson Day

The Vashon-Maury Island Community Council has named Monday, July 20, Jennie Hodgson Day. The committee wll honor her at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. July 20 at Courthouse Square.

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