Originally from Jamesville, Wisconsin, Robert “Bob” Hodge was a herpetologist at heart long before he ever studied biology at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, or Pratt Institute in New York City.
As a child, Bob loved reptiles, biology and the study of Northern forests.
During his undergraduate college studies, Bob studied biology and industrial design. This was only the beginning for Bob, however, as he decided that he wanted to further focus his studies on herpetology. In the late ’60s, Bob and his wife, Gail, moved from their home state of Wisconsin to the Big Apple, where Bob attended Pratt Institute in pursuit of a master’s degree in biology.
Moving to New York was an exciting opportunity for Bob, not only because of his opportunity to attend Pratt Institute, but also because of his opportunity to work at the American Museum of Natural History.
“My favorite thing about working for the Museum of Natural History was being involved with the fellow biologists who were world famous at the time,” said Bob. “While I was there, I was in charge of the Hall of Insects. They turned it over to me the first week I was there, which really surprised me.”
Bob thoroughly enjoyed his time at the museum and Pratt Institute, but he and his wife soon became uneasy about living in New York when turmoil began to break out in the city following the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It was terrifying to ride the bus to work,” said Bob. “There was a lot of violence. So, after I received my master’s degree, the wife and I decided to move back to Wisconsin.”
As Bob continued to grow his career in herpetology, his interests began to focus on marine turtles – specifically marine turtles in Alaska. These are his favorite reptiles to study.
“The study of herpetology in Alaska is quite exciting!” said Bob. “A lot of people don’t realize that there are four species of marine turtles in Alaska. Alaska was the first state in the union to protect marine turtles. They are all over the place!”
Bob traveled extensively to study marine turtles in Alaska, usually taking his trips during the summer and staying for weeks at a time. As a result of his research, Bob wrote a well-known paper titled, “Occurrences of Marine Turtles in Alaska Waters” in the 1960-1998 Herpetological Review. In addition, Bob also wrote several more papers on herpetology, as well as books about the Arctic and Northwestern herpetology that are well-known in several regions of the United States.
During his career, Bob built exhibits in North American museums and worked at the Point Defiance Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, for many years. The passion he had for his work was contagious, and soon Bob’s daughter, Heather, became excited about his work as well.
“As a youngster, Heather was avidly interested [in herpetology],” said Bob. “She was my favorite collector and sidekick!”
Bob eventually became very interested in Pacific Northwest biology and moved his family to the state of Washington. He continues to love it there and is currently a resident at Cottesmore of Life Care in Gig Harbor, Washington.
However, like any true Wisconsin native, Bob has a deep love for the Green Bay Packers. He owns a share of the team and is determined to never miss a game. He also stays very up-to-date on politics and current events.
“You may sometimes find Bob roaming the hallways with a Pepsi and a cookie,” said Pamela Shelton, activity director at Cottesmore of Life Care. “He is always pleasant and enjoys visiting with us. We are so happy he has joined our Cottesmore family!”