Dorothy Rose "Dot" Matthews Hodge went to be with Jesus on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. She passed after being ushered peacefully into the next life by worship and music from her family late in the evening before passing peacefully in her sleep.

Dorothy Rose was born in Marianna on June 1, 1935. Her parents were Dorothy Sawyer Matthews and Jackson Clifford Matthews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, as well as her grandparents Rosa and Fred Sawyer Sr., who emigrated from Sussex, England at age 16. Her grandfather, Fred Sawyer, Sr. served on the board for Trinity Episcopal Church in Apalachicola.

She grew up in Apalachicola, and after graduating from Chapman High School, Dorothy Rose attended Florida State University, where she graduated in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in education. She was married to retired Lt. Col. John J. Hodge, Sr., of Panama City, and traveled with the Army to many interesting places including Okinawa, Japan She taught synchronized swimming classes and organized shows. She was the highly successful president of the Officers’ Wives Club of a 3,300-person Air Defense Brigade in Okinawa.

For more than three decades, she taught Kindergarten and other elementary grade levels (e.g. at Longwood Elementary School) and resided in Niceville.

Dorothy Rose had a full and exuberant life. She passionately loved her family, loved teaching, loved all children, loved worship, and loved Apalachicola. Her favorite pastimes included swimming, spending time with loved ones at her beach cottage in Port St. Joe Beach and singing Old Church hymns with great enthusiasm.

Dorothy never met a stranger and frequently made friends through even casual encounters. She loved her country and spent hours keeping up with current events through reading the papers and watching news shows such as C-SPAN and Meet the Press. She enjoyed leading a Bible study and making dear friendships at her retirement center.

Dorothy Rose deeply influenced and touched countless lives, including hundreds of schoolchildren, and her children and grandchildren, through her genuine concern, Olympic-level conversation, delightful Southern wit, and heartfelt constant prayer for others. One of her favorite hymns was, "How Great Thou Art," which her daughter and grandson sang to her in the hours she was passing. In her final days, she asked her grandchildren to always follow Jesus and "to pray continually." She also expressed that she was excited for eternal reunion with loved ones.

Dorothy Rose is survived by three children and their spouses, John Julian Hodge, Jr. (Dora), retired in Choctaw Beach, Deanna Rose Hodge Gelak (Joseph), of Springfield, Virginia, and Deborah Ann Hodge Garred (James) of Panama City; six grandchildren: John Christopher McCauley (Elizabeth), Tiffany Cora Gelak, Jason McCauley, Alyssa Garred, Emily Garred, and Andrew Gelak; her brother, Fred Sawyer Matthews (Karin), of Key West, and children Monica Matthews Santana (José) and Steven Mathews (Karen); and her first Cousin, Fred Buck Sawyer (Rita), of Apalachicola; as well as many treasured extended family members and dear friends.

A service celebrating her life was held at her childhood Trinity Episcopal Church in Apalachicola, on Monday, Jan. 20. Visitation was open at noon to 1 p.m., with the service at 1 p.m. Dorothy Rose was interred at Magnolia Cemetery in Apalachicola, next to her mother, Dorothy Sawyer Matthews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to the Parkinson’s Foundation at

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. - 2 Timothy 4:7-8

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:31