A longtime Salina doctor, and former mayor, is being fondly remembered by family and friends. Dr. Merle Hodges passed away early Monday morning.
Hodges, and his wife of 63 1/2 years Nancy, lived most of their life in Salina. Both were very active in the community.
Nancy, the co-host of KSAL’s “Friendly Fire” program reminisced Monday night to begin the program. She began by thanking everyone who has reached out to her. She said that she has been overwhelmed by those offering condolences, prayers, and kind words.
After graduating from the University of Kansas, where he also played football, Merle established the Hodges Women’s Clinic in Salina. As a respected Medical Doctor he practiced women’s health services for decades. According to Nancy, Merle delivered upwards of 10,000 babies during his medical career.
The clinic, now known as Salina Women’s Clinic, is still in existence. Merle’s son Dr. Merle “Boo” Hodges, who joined his father at the clinic in 1987, and Dr. Christopher Graber operate it.
Merle was also active in politics in Salina. He served two four-year terms on the Salina City Commission in the 1980s, and served two terms as Salina Mayor.
Current Salina City Commissioner Jon Blanchard, who has also has served as mayor, fondly remembers Hodges. “His was a life well lived in the service of others,” Blanchard told KSAL News. He went on to say “Mayor Hodges holds a special place in the heart and in the memory of the citizens of Salina.”
Nancy said “Merle had such a blessed life, he had two wonderful children and four wonderful grandchildren. We have been very blessed through our life, and I miss him like crazy”.
Merle was preceded in death by his daughter Melissa. “Merle is happy, he is with our daughter again,” Nancy said.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Dr. Merle Hodges is planned for 3:00 Friday afternoon at Christ Episcopal Cathedral at 138 S. 8th Street in Salina.