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Hodge, Ray Keith

Ray Hodge was born in Kenly to James Alvin and Ida Woodard Hodge on March 25, 1926. After graduating from Kenly High School he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served as a B-24 Armorer until his discharge on July 2, 1946. After two years at Mars Hill Junior College, he transferred to Wake Forest College and graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree.

He married Joyce Lorine Harrell that same year whom he had met at Mars Hill. During his third college year, he became pastor of Dexter and Poplar Creek Baptist Churches near Henderson, and in 1950 added the Youngsville Baptist Church. Ray attended Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest and received a bachelor of divinity degree. In 1955, he was named the Associate Director of the Southern Baptist Seminaries Extension Department.

While pastor at Millbrook in Raleigh and Yates in Durham, he studied for his master of theology degree at Southeastern Seminary where he served two semesters as an instructor in church administration. After twelve and a half years at Yates, he became the pastor of Kinston's First Baptist Church for another fifteen and a half years before retiring in 1988.

Ray was commissioned in 1955 as a chaplain in the North Carolina Army National Guard where he served for twenty-eight years, the last seven as the state chaplain (Colonel). He then served four years in the Army Reserve as the FORSCOM assistant chaplain for personnel. Ray served as a trustee of Wake Forest University and Meredith College, as a member of the Biblical Recorder Board of Directors, chairman of Campbell University's Board of Ministers, and as chairman of Southeastern Seminary's Alumni Association. He is a Trustee Emeritus of Wake Forest University.

Ray was active in his denomination's local, state, and national affairs, served on numerous committees, and as president of the North Carolina Convention's General Board. He proposed the logo which the Southern Baptist Convention adopted and still uses. In addition to writing Sunday school commentary for the Biblical Recorder for nineteen years, he has been a frequent contributor of articles to religious publications and occasionally to public newspapers. He has published the column "HODGEPODGE" monthly for many years in the Smithfield Herald.

In retirement Ray has preached in churches, served as an interim pastor in ten churches, taught in Johnston Community College, served as a Hospice Chaplain, and has published eight books on genealogy, religion, and history, including Big Memories of a Little Town: Kenly in the Thirties and Forties. He is a Rotarian, and served two terms as club president. Ray has traveled in all fifty states, Canada, Mexico, several Caribbean countries, the Middle East, the British Isles, western Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, and eastern Europe. Ray and Joyce Hodge retired to Smithfield. They have three married children and six grandchildren.

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