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Stoughton- Marvin “Marv” Wilbert Hodge, age 72, passed away on Monday, April 25, 2022, surrounded by family. Born to Wilbert and Cleo Hodge in San Diego on New Year’s Day, 1950, Marvin was loved and nurtured not only by his parents but by his three older siblings: Norbert, Paul, and Jane. From playing games of “chicken” with knives to sharing advice about neighborhood bullies, they molded Marv into their “Big” little brother, teaching him everything he needed to know to survive the world.
From humble beginnings, Marvin worked hard as a kid, finding work wherever he could. But his favorite early job was working with his dad at the San Diego Padres games. Being so big for his age (over 6’ tall with a 65-mph fastball by the 8th grade), Marvin flew under (or maybe right over) the radar, getting hired to carry a 20-pound hot dog steamer around his neck while his dad sold peanuts. Not only did Marvin make the ‘big bucks’, but more importantly, he got to eat any broken hot dogs. Whether or not he broke any on purpose will go to the grave with him.
At Mount Miguel High School, Marvin starred on the Varsity Cross Country and Track teams, living the mantra “speed kills opponents”. Although rough around the track, Marvin sang beautifully in the Concert Choir, winning “Superior” ratings (the highest available) in solo competitions all over the State, directing a church choir, and even traveling to Mazatlán in Los Machis, deep in Mexico, for a “good will” Christmas Tour with the Mt. Miguel Men’s Ensemble Choral group in 1967. Four of his cross-country teammates were also in the Ensemble and were notorious for starting races singing a Spanish Christmas Carol “¡Alegría, Alegría, Alegría!”, causing the coach to roll his eyes, but throwing off the opposing team every time. Marvin served as Class Vice President his Senior year and humbly said he wasn’t sure how he was even elected. He was active in Boy Scouts and honored with the Eagle Scout award in 1968; his father received the Silver Beaver award that same year.
Marvin never knew exactly which one math question he missed on the SATs, but evidently, he got enough right for the Ivy Leagues to pay for him to attend. After buying books for his first classes at the University of Pennsylvania in the Fall of 1968, Marvin had more money left over from his scholarships than he had ever held at one time before (potentially as much as $100). Whether out of love and gratitude for his parents (or out of not yet discovering the joys of fine scotch), he promptly put that money into an envelope and mailed it right back home.
At UPenn, Marvin studied chemical engineering, lettered on an undefeated Penn Relay team, and met and married Onda Morin, his first wife and the mother of his two children, Jonathan and Kimberly Hodge. After graduating in 1972, Marv spent ten years with Procter & Gamble, setting up production lines all over the world, driving tens of millions of dollars in cost reductions, and becoming the first American promoted during an overseas assignment in 15 years before returning to the States in 1992. He then went on to work with a host of other large corporations, including Minnetonka Corporation (making SoftSoap), Tropicana, Unilever, Shell Chemical, Kerr Plastics, Dopaco, Tredegar Films, Consolidated Container Corp., Conagra, Behrens Manufacturing, Anova Furnishings, and others. A true expert, Marvin drove a number of $100+ million-dollar factory turnarounds, even saving plants that he was specifically hired to wind down (and always doing so while increasing quality, improving safety, and avoiding layoffs).
It’s hard to adequately describe Marvin’s talents in these areas, but whether you knew Marvin personally or not, you’ve almost certainly seen his talents in action. He came to Tropicana in 1986 with the “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” of unseating Coca-Cola’s “Minute Maid” and Procter & Gamble’s “Citrus Hill” product lines, and then personally recruited, hired, trained, and led the process development and design team that actually did it. His name is on two patents for beverage bottles that very likely have been in your fridge. If you happened to notice that your McDonald’s cup lids started fitting a little better around 20 years ago, well, that happened to be when Marvin was leading the factories making them. He was an expert in systems management, project management, and cultural change, and his skills in handling the fiscal, technical, and social challenges of turn-around and crisis environments has been described as no less than “glaringly obvious”. Marvin loved his work to the end, and was in the middle of another large job–once again, back with Procter & Gamble–at the time of his passing.
Outside of work, Marvin loved competitive sports. He played rugby for years, including for the Rugby Union (Belgian National Champions 1979-1982), and was part of the Brandywine Rugby Football Club that took part in the Scotland Tour in 2001. At 51, he was the oldest member, but still unstoppable. “Pads are for pansies” was his answer to football. He also loved nature, science (both real and fiction), history, Star Trek, Isaac Asimov, Oscar fish, singing, teaching, and cooking (and eating!).
Marvin’s legacy includes Tropicana Twister, a number of environmentally-friendly packaging used around the world, certain techniques used to fill Tide cartons with powdered laundry detergent, the families undisrupted by the thousands of jobs he saved, and the wisdom and knowledge that lives in the countless lives that he touched. Publicly, he launched an Industrial Technologies program to improve occupational opportunities at a community college, co-owned a wine bistro, served as a motivational speaker for Second Chance Kids, and most recently served as the Dunkirk Dam Lake District’s Treasurer. Privately, he believed in family, in respect for others, in doing the hard things, in character being what you do behind closed doors, and in living the sort of life where his adopted step grandson would write, “I thank you and never have forgotten all that you did to rescue me when I was a child . . . you saved my life.”
In 2013, Marvin met his current wife Lauri and he said “their love was a love that only poets write about”. They had a wonderful nine years together, singing, laughing, dancing, and loving and he will forever be in her heart. Marvin is survived by the love of his life Lauri Hodge, two children, Kimberly Hodge of Bradenton, Florida, and Jonathan Hodge (Amanda) of Sartell, Minnesota, his brother Norbert Hodge (Sue) and Paul London (Lois) both of West Plains, MO, Lenora Jane Lindsay of El Cajon, CA, two grandchildren (Grayson and Audrey), and several nieces, nephews, and relations from prior marriages. He is preceded in death by his parents, one niece, and three nephews.
Since Marvin has traveled many places and his friends and family are scattered, he requested to be cremated without a formal memorial service. His family will celebrate his life in a private ceremony and distribute his ashes as they see fit. The family suggests donations be made to the Boy Scouts of America or to Mount Miguel High School.
Marvin, you touched countless lives. May you rest in peace knowing your spirit lives on.
His family will celebrate his life in a private ceremony and distribute his ashes as they see fit. Marvin's family would love for you to post memories, pictures, stories, or anything else you wish to share on his Tribute wall.
Cress Funeral Service
206 W. Prospect Street, PO Box 231, Stoughton
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