Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Gerald Hodges

Gerald Hodges, a friend of many years standing, passed away yesterday. As Linda Loman once said, "Attention must be paid."

Gerald was the Associate Executive Director for Communications and Marketing at the American Library Association. Before that, he was the Association's director of Membership Services and Chapter Relations, the role in which I met him when I held a similar job for the Ohio Library Association. Gerald helped me understand the way ALA and state chapters work together on government relations, advocacy, and library promotion. He helped me get into the media training that ALA launched in the early '90s to organize a cadre of librarians who could work effectively with the media. This was some of the best training I've ever had.

When the job of PLA Executive Director came open, Gerald encouraged me to apply and even helped me prep for the interview. I promised him that if I got the job, I'd take him to dinner at his favorite restaurant. We had a boozy, enjoyable dinner several months later, and the friendship was sealed.

Working with Gerald was a pleasure. His approach to work and life were marked by his sense of humor, encyclopedic knowledge of the field, and an apparently bottomless reservoir of patience. He took great and constant delight in his work, his partner Charles, frequent trips to Vegas, and, as his obit on the American Libraries site notes, all things Spanish. He was one of the nattiest dressers in the profession. Gerald in a tux at the ALA President's Inaugural Dinner was a GQ photo spread come to life.

After I left ALA for Michigan, our contacts were less frequent, but when we did see each other, at an ALA conference, or at state association conferences, or at a meeting at ALA about WebJunction a couple of years ago, it was as if we'd never been apart.

What I'll remember most fondly about Gerald is the way his eyes would twinkle when he was about to tell a funny story. He knew that as important as libraries are, life is more important. He had perspective.

The best way to memorialize Gerald will be to go to San Antonio for Midwinter and skip a meeting. Instead, go out and have a few laughs with friends that you don't see often enough.

1 comment:

Eric said...

George, I'm glad you posted something. I knew Gerald as "Dr. Hodges" when I was in library school. I took a course on Young Adult literature from him (the AL obit fails to mention BTW that he was also a recognized expert on library services to youth). The course included me -- the academic cataloger wannabe and sole male student as I recall -- and a cadre of media specialists types. My book talks in absolute and relative terms did not shine, but Dr. Hodges was always gracious and encouraging, and I made it through the course, the far more knowledgable about young adult literature and readers advisory. I don't think I've spoken to him in many years, but I've heard much about his superb work at ALA. He will be greatly missed.