Charles Thomas Hodges died June 10, 2019, in the comfort of his home in Williamsburg, with his wife by his side. He had recently celebrated his 69th birthday on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Up until an attack on his body by an aggressive prostate cancer, Charley considered himself always to have been a lucky man. He believed his luck began with his father’s survival in the landing of Allied Forces on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on June 6, six years prior to Charley’s birth on the same date in 1950.
Charley was born in Fort Gordon, Georgia, and because of his father’s military career had the opportunity to grow up in Columbus, Mississippi; Falls Church, Virginia; London, England; Fort Meade, Maryland; and Heidelberg, Germany, where he graduated from high school in 1968. He received a B.A. in History from Hampden-Sydney College in 1972 and a M.A. in Anthropology in 2003 from the College of William and Mary.
Charley also felt lucky to have found archaeology as a career after completing his undergraduate education. Archaeology suited his intellect, matched his interests, and often allowed him to work with his hands, outdoors, where he felt most comfortable. Through the years he held positions with Southside Historical Sites, the Flowerdew Hundred Foundation (staff archaeologist 1980-1986), the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Virginia Commonwealth University Archaeological Research Center, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the James River Institute for Archaeology, and the William and Mary Center for Archaeological Research. He was an acknowledged expert on 17th-century English fortifications in the Chesapeake region and on edged weapons. His master’s thesis, “Forts of the Chieftains: A Study of Vernacular, Classical, and Renaissance Influence on Defensible Town and Villa Plans in 17th-Century Virginia,” was published as Volume 47 (2009) in the University of South Carolina series, Volumes in Historic Archaeology.
An artist as much as an archaeologist in temperament, Charley found inspiration and a reflection of his own visions in the Surrealist Movement of the 20th century, particularly the work of René Magritte and Max Ernst. He presented a one-man show of collages and drawings at the Eric Schindler Gallery in Richmond in 1978, and continued to create dry-point engravings, collages, and drawings later in life. Most recently, Charley channeled his artistry and a deep appreciation of the natural world into gardening. He was recognized by the Arbor Day Committee of the Williamsburg Area Council of Garden Clubs in 2016 for his plantings in the common areas of the Pollard Park neighborhood, and in April of this year was recognized by the City of Williamsburg for his volunteer efforts to enhance the beauty of the landscape in Cedar Grove Cemetery.
Charley’s wit and choice of words in expressing his unique perspectives on life were his trademark. Friends who spoke with him in his final days often remarked that he was still “pure Charley.” He had many, sometimes serial passions in life, large and small, loving in particular waterlilies, irises, snakes, all members of the cat and bear families, the smell of a salt marsh, the sound of a babbling stream, the tranquility of a koi pond, hand-forged iron and steel, seafood, feeding dogs, surprises.
Charley was preceded in death by his father and mother, Col. John Hodges and Edna Elizabeth (Lib) Ames Hodges. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Mary Ellen Norrisey Hodges; his brother, John Howard Hodges and sister-in law, Vandivere Potts Hodges, of Ashland, VA; his nephew, John Ames Hodges and wife, Yumiko Yamamoto-Hodges, and their son, Yugo Z. Yamamoto-Hodges, of New York City; his nephew, Benjamin Kidder Hodges and partner, Crystal W. Chan, of Macau, China; his sisters-in law, Patricia Ann Pollock and Susan Marie Norrisey, both of Charlottesville; and his close friend, Andrew C. Edwards and husband, Robert T. Lyon, of Williamsburg.
A service to celebrate Charley’s life will be held in the chapel at Bucktrout of Williamsburg at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 15, followed by a reception at Bucktrout. The family will gather at 1:30 p.m. for interment at Cedar Grove Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions may be made to the James River Association, 211 Rocketts Way, Suite 200, Richmond, VA 23231.