Mary L. Hodson, 71, of Lawrence, Kan., died June 25, 2017
Mary L. Hodson, 71, of Lawrence, Kan., died Sunday, June 25, 2017, from cancer compounded by multiple sclerosis. Her life as an educator, journalist, photographer and social worker impacted individuals throughout the U.S. and the world.
She was born Sept. 14, 1945, in the Waldo, Kansas City area to Raymer and Florence Middleton Hodson. She graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School, after which she earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and a bachelor of science degree in language arts from the University of Kansas. She became a high school English and Spanish teacher and often encountered students who remembered her summer class trips to Mexico.
Her interest in art led to a second career in journalism and photography. She worked for newspapers in El Dorado, Augusta and Parsons, Kan., and won awards from the Kansas Press Association, United Press International, Associated Press and National Press Photographers Association. She developed her photography as fine art and was accepted into many juried art shows throughout Kansas.
A return to education led her to Labette Community College in Parsons, then overseas to teach functional writing and American culture and history at a university in Chengdu, China. While there, she experienced the June Fourth Incident at Tiananmen Square, forever changing the course of her life.
Returning to the United States, she focused on teaching English as a Second Language to international high school students. She earned a master’s degree in education from Pittsburg State University, followed later by a master in social work degree from KU. She then worked as an ESL paraprofessional and bilingual aide in the Lawrence and Kansas City school districts.
Her next career, as a social worker, included positions with Western Missouri Mental Health Center in Kansas City, Lawrence Community Shelter, East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation and Trinity In-Home Care. She helped many people cope with stressful situations such as addictions, homelessness, physical and mental disabilities, emergencies and terminal illnesses. She became an expert at linking community resources to individuals and families in need.
Throughout her life, she was a crusader for education and believed strongly in helping others. She also loved animals, especially the pets she rescued, dogs Cuddles and Fluffer and cats BSer, Napoleon, Sinbad, Romeo and Miss Kitty.
Survivors include a sister, Martha, of Kansas City, Mo., and several cousins and their families. Her parents preceded her in death.
A celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, July 1, at the Lawrence First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St., Lawrence, KS 66044. Visitation will take place from 10-11 a.m. Memorials are suggested to the Lawrence Humane Society.