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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, December 1, 2023


April 15, 2003 – Gerald E. Hodge Sr., one of the stalwarts of V.I. Carnival and the man for whom this year's Village is named, died Tuesday morning at Roy L. Schneider Hospital. He was 71.
"He was Mr. Carnival and Mr. Port Authority," a longtime acquaintance said.
"He has been one of the true movers, shakers and innovators of Carnival," current V.I. Carnival Committee member Glenn "Kwabena" Davis said Tuesday afternoon. "You could always rely on him if there was assistance needed, if there was a door that needed to be opened."
He was a man seldom seen without a shy smile, if not a genuine grin, on his face. Affable among people of all backgrounds, he moved in many circles and appeared comfortable in them all.
A current member and past chair of the Board of Education and member of the Democratic Party V.I. Territorial Committee, Hodge chaired the Carnival Committee for about four years.He served as executive director of the Legislature in 1993-94 and was a past chair of the St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections.
WVWI Radio reported that Hodge had been admitted to the hospital over the weekend and was said to have slipped into a diabetic coma. He reportedly returned from San Francisco recently after having suffered a stroke.
The Carnival Committee had decided to designate this year's Carnival Village as "Gerry's Place" in recognition of his many years of involvement with the annual fete. The Village is to open with ceremonies on April 28 in the Fort Christian parking lot.
"He was great to work with," Kenneth "Lord Blakie" Blake, current Carnival Committee chair, said Tuesday, recalling that Hodge took over as chair in 1986. Blake noted that the two of them were godbrothers.
Maria Tankenson Hodge, who is married to Hodge's brother Larry, said, "He should have had a lot more years to enjoy his life."
Also among Hodge's survivors is former Territorial Court Presiding Judge Verne A. Hodge.
Gerald Hodge was born on St. Thomas and graduated from what was then the College of the Virgin Islands with an associate of arts degree in 1979 and a bachelor's degree in 1980. He went on to earn a master's degree from UVI in 1987. According to a profile of his family and its five generations of connection with the University of the Virgin Islands in UVI Magazine, he served at one time as president of the CVI Alumni Association and was elected the first president of the CVI International Alumni Association.
Gordon Finch, who retired last year as executive director of the Port Authority, recalled Hodge as "a good employee. I appreciated his efforts." After a long career with VIPA, Hodge retired as property management officer about five or six years ago,Finch said.
"But my recollection of Gerry goes 'way back before that," Finch continued. "He was one of those Virgin Islanders who know as many people in the St. Croix district as in the St. Thomas-St. John district. He was a very amiable guy. I don't think he ever said an unkind word about anyone. He was always looking on the up side of things."
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, in a release from Government House, called Hodge a "community stalwart, native son and public servant who contributed much to the development of the Virgin Islands" and described him as "a one-of-a-kind individual whose love for his native land was unquestionable."
Hodge was a founding member of the V.I. Democratic Party, the release stated, and "was the longest-serving member on the Board of Education."
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, in a release, called Hodge's death "a great loss to the entire Virgin Islands community." He added: "It is so tragic to note that Mr. Hodge took ill on the same day that they began preparing to build the Carnival Village named in his honor. I am saddened that he will not be here to partake in the many events planned to pay tribute to him, as he truly deserved the accolades and gratitude of our citizens."
Davis, who has succeeded Hodge unofficially as the keeper of historical records for Carnival, said their families became close back when their mothers worked together with "a Captain Sweet, for a number of years after naval rule."
Davis said Hodge was a valued resource in chronicling the history of Carnival. "Sometimes if we had information that was not accurate, he would either clear it up or help us find a source that could give us the accurate information."
Back in the days before the resurgence of Carnival in 1952, Davis said, Hodge "was one of those who used to be in the early discussions with Happy Holiday, who used to be on the morning show with Ron de Lugo and them. Gerry was very young then, but apparently there used to be a lot of discussion about what Carnival used to be like, and the need to revive it."
However, Davis added, when Hodge became V.I. Carnival Committee chair in 1986 he focused on moving the celebration forward, not looking back. "That's when you saw a lot of the changes in Carnival that came about," he said. "He tried to make carnival larger than the image that it had. That's why I suggested to the committee this year, 'Why not name the Village after Gerry?' And everybody liked the idea."

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