Memories of Terry Hodel
And then she was gone
I first heard Terry Hodel when I was a listener to Hour 25 during the 1970's. Each week she told us about events happening in Los Angeles and by speaking gently forged the chains of information that drew together the science fiction community in Los Angeles.
A Eulogy for Terry Hodel by Suzanne Gibson
A Biography of Terry Hodel
Warren W. James
In this life there are persons who bring light into the darkness, who ennoble our world and show us how good and gracious people can be. Terry Hodel was one such person.
But her light now shines in a different place. A better place.
Death did not find her an easy victim. She fought long and hard - with courage that we can but envy, and held off death for many years by the shear strength of her will.
Terry was many things to those of us who knew and loved her. She was, and remains, the heart and soul of Hour 25. She was a living example of grace and gentleness in the face of adversity. And she was my friend and mentor.
I could speak of how she bore up under the ravages of a disease that savaged her body. Of how she always had a cheerful greeting whenever I saw her. Not long before the end, I met her at the station and she responded to my 'hi how you doing' with a cheerful 'Just fine', even though it was obvious she was wasn't. Over the past few years the cancer that attacked her, left her needing help with even the simplest of daily activities. But that didn't stop her.
Hell, it hardly slowed her down. Each week she was at the station to compile and read the calendar. She was always ready to talk with me about guests or show topics or how we might make Hour 25 better. She didn't use her illness as an excuse to not do the things she believed in. She did them anyway. She just saw her condition just as a problem to be solved.
Which she did each week, with dignity and grace.
Terry was a kind and forgiving person to all, even to those who had treated her cruelly. I could tell you of the kindness and understanding she showed to persons who tried to take advantage of her or force her away from the things she loved. But to do that would be to show just how vile some people can be. And Terry would not have me do that.
No. We should focus on the thing that she loved most dearly. The work she did on Hour 25.
One of the proudest days in my life was when she invited me to host Hour 25. And some of my happiest memories were from the times Terry and I spent discussing the show and planning things we would do.
She showed me that often you speak loudest with a moment of thoughtful silence and that you shine the brightest when you help someone else to shine brighter. I looked forward to discussing the show with her and treasured those moments when her commentary on the show was, "that was tasty'.
She was always a quiet presence on Hour 25, prefering to let other people stand out in the glare of public attention, but she was and remains the heart and soul of the show. While she was with us, she was a source of knowledge and inspiration. Now she will remain an inspiration and guide as I ask myself, "what would Terry have wanted".
We will honor Terry's memory by doing that which was most important to her. My word as my bond. As long as there is air in my lungs, we'll continue on with Hour 25. Just as we have for 28 years and just as we shall for as long as people think and dream about the possibilities this world has to offer.
Terry will be missed by all of us who knew her. And my thoughts go out to each of you for your loss. My special thoughts go out to Joel Farr who was Terry's constant companion over the last years. I know that Joel meant very much to her and that she meant much to him. My words cannot express their feelings for each other but my thoughts are with Joel in this time of his special loss.
Terry was passionate about many things, but one of the most important to her was literacy - for without that persons are cut off from the wealth of knowledge, history and dreams that our culture has to offer. Before her death she asked that people not send flowers but rather they should make a donation in her name to California Literacy. We have their address and ask that you remember Terry by supporting the work of this organization.
Each week Terry brought us news from the starscape. Her gentle voice flowed out on a radio signal that reached up to the very stars and traveled toward the edge of time and space. Now and forever, Terry will be a part of the starscape that she loved so much.
No one is ever really dead. Not as long as we remember them and speak their names to others. Not as long as the influence they had on us lives on in our words and deeds. And by that measure Terry will be with us forever, for she changed everyone who was lucky enough to know her.
You will see her every time you speak kindly of someone when your first instinct would be to lash out at them. She will live on in whenever you find the strength to face adversity and not shrink from the challenges that life throws at you. She will live on whenever you follow your dreams to wherever they lead you.
Terry's body may be gone from us now. But her heart and soul will live on in each one of us.
I've come today to talk about Terry Hodel, my friend. I knew her 10 years. Not a long time in the terms of many of the people here - I've been constantly hearing "I knew her 20 years, or 30 years, or more." But in those 10 years, we became very close.
Working with her, producing Hour 25, one of the great benefits was the wonderful people we met each week, the brilliant minds, astronauts, scientists, and talented writers. I wish I had the ability to speak and write as eloquently as they can, because I want to be able to express what an incredible person Terry was.
I think I was lucky enough to get to know her in the way that was best to know her, talking one on one, late at night, while Warren was interviewing the guest. Late night talk inspires confidences. We talked about our lives, about just everything. She taught me everything I know about radio, and a tremendous amount about life in the process. She was so incredibly quiet, and gentle and self-effacing that I never realized what I was learning during our talks. She never criticized. In the gentlest way possible, she'd make a quiet suggestion, which was more effective than any other kind of comment. To really know her, you had to talk with her, and listen to her in quiet moments, which I was fortunate to have.
By day, I'm a producer / art director for the film and print industry, and a researcher for writers and screenwriters. I used to talk to her about my work - tell her stories of all the bizarre, quirky, exasperating things that so frequently happen to people working in the industry. She liked that. I think she missed working as a film editor - she had to give it up after treatment for Hodgkins disease and cancer left her physically challenged. She never talked about herself. Trying to find out anything about her life from Terry was frustration in the extreme. You'd ask a question, and she'd willingly start to tell you what you asked, but then she'd perform her magic trick - you'd look up, and discover that somehow, you both were talking about something else, or she had you talking about yourself.
She was the most unstoppable person I've ever met, in her own sweet and gentle way. When Warren says at the end of the show, "Don't give up. Persistence doesn't guarantee success, but quitting guarantees failure." That was Terry. I hate euphonisms like "physically challenged" and words like that. The fact was that Terry had a lot of tremendously bad breaks in life. Cancer treatments and surgery made it difficult to do some things, but she took it in stride. She was the most positive person I've ever met. I never heard her say NO. Whatever there was that she needed to do, she would do it, eternally smiling and quietly serene. She wouldn't let you help her, but would laugh at herself while spending 10 minutes trying to get her key into her car door. She'd say, "I could do it.", always positive, never negative.
I know I was truly her friend when she did trust me to help her in small ways. It was years before I could even open a door for her, but over the years, I listened carefully to what she wanted (you had to ask - she wouldn't come out with it on her own) and tried to be the kind of friend that would do anything for her. I knew she'd do anything for me. In the end, we came to a balance - each sharing our strengths. She came to trust me to help organize the show, and other, more personal things. She knew she could ask me to help her finish some tasks - things she needed to resolve before she could leave us. She knew I'd follow through even after she was gone.
Terry was always fine. She said so every time you asked how she was. Even after her cancer recurred, she was always fine. Not that we didn't talk together about her treatment, and what was being done, what new treatments might be used. The last time I saw her, a few days before her death, she said she was fine. She meant it. She always told the truth. You knew it. There was a kind of gentle aura about her that was always honest, positive, and happy. She carried it with her always. I think she taught me that that was what was really important in life. That essential part of her was beautiful and positive and happy. Whenever she read the calendar, she always sounded like she was smiling, because she was.
One of the last things she ever asked me to do was to read the calendar for her. In her last weeks, she would come to the station, but she didn't feel she had the strength to read the calendar. I've never refused Terry anything in her life, but I wasn't ready to have her give up reading the calendar, because it meant so much to her. In the end, I took a page from Terry's book and gave her a gentle suggestion: perhaps we could read it together. And so we did, each alternating reading calendar entries. She was happy. She said it sounded good. That way, she was able to read the calendar up to the week she died.
I'm not sure I know what I believe about life after death. I do believe that what is good truly never dies, and certainly, what was beautiful about Terry lives on in all of us who have been touched by her life. I do have one final comforting thought. For thirty years, Terry's voice was on the radio. Radio waves never die. They travel endlessly out into space. Terry reached the stars before we did. She's truly become part of the starscape.
Theresa Nowak Hodel was born on July 15th, 1937 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She died Wednesday, March 17th at the age of 61 after a courageous struggle with cancer.
She studied Theater Arts at Marquette University and received a BA degree, and moved to LA in the early 60's to do graduate work at UCLA. She worked as a film editor until the 1970's until treatment for Hodgkin's disease forced an end to her editing career. For many years she worked as a bookkeeper at the Westside Opportunity Workshop, a facility for developmentally disabled adults. She moved to the Grantsmanship Center about 1989 or 1990 where she also worked as a bookkeeper.
Terry was mostly known for her work in radio. In the early 1960's she joined Pacifica station KPFK, where she was a programmer for over 30 years. She was best known for being the "voice" of the KPFK calendar of events for many years, as well as being the producer of the science fiction radio show she started with her husband, Mike Hodel. Now in its 29th year on the air, the show is called Mike Hodel's Hour 25 in honor of Mike who passed away in 1986. Hour 25 currently airs on the internet and can be found at www.hour25online.com. Terry read the Hour 25 Calendar of Events every week until her passing.
In addition to her work on the KPFK and Hour 25 Calendars, she also produced some documentaries about the film industry during the mid 1970's, including the one hour documentary "The First Director's Name Was Alice."
Terry was passionate about many things, but two of the things that meant the most to her were the continuation of Hour 25, and the subject of literacy.
In 1996, she donated tapes from the READ SF project to benefit California Literacy. These tapes have a dozen science fiction authors reading their stories including authors Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison. Terry was working as a volunteer teaching adults to read until her health no longer permitted her to continue. Her family and friends have requested that donations be made to California Literacy in her name.
Donations in memory of Terry Hodel should be made to:
California Literacy Inc.
2028 E. Villa St.
Pasadena, Ca 91101
1 (800) 894-READ
Please state on your check that your donation is in memory of Terry Hodel.
All rights reserved.