Whittle: Lytle Hodge still a volunteer
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 11:55 am
By DAN WHITTLE
As a small lad, I met truly "colorful" folks while sitting quietly on Daddy's knee as he gambled in the back room of our farm town's singular barber shop.
In more modern times, some folks attend sports events to be around those of mutual interest.
Two of my good friends recently wed after meeting each other two years ago over the Internet.
Since Mr. Hodge and I also regularly put our feet under the same monthly breakfast table at Rutherford County's historic, rural and pristine pretty Kedron United Methodist Church property that straddles the beautiful meandering Rocky Fork Creek, one might assume that's why I note him amongst my most interesting friends.
"Just call me 'Lytle,'" was his recent instruction while we shared larruping-good hot biscuits of fellowship.
At age 92, Lytle ranks as one of our Volunteer State's most profound volunteer inspirations to younger whipper-snappers on days we think we don't have the gitty-up to go out and make a day brighter for a neighbor or two.
More later about his remarkable "volunteerism" that benefits a whole town of more than 40,000 people.
After that tragedy, Lytle acknowledges being blessed to have had a loving aunt and uncle who reared him during his one-room school years at Rocky Fork School that was located near present-day Giles Creek Baptist Church.
"I went through the 8th grade at Rocky Fork, with wonderful teachers, before finishing high school in Smyrna in 1945," Lytle noted. "At Rocky Fork, we toted sack lunches…"
He attended MTSU for two years, studying agriculture which explains his love for mules to the present-day.
After MTSU, young Lytle took a job in Nashville, where something profound happened that changed his life.
In mid-years of life, Lytle and his bride returned to his beloved Smyrna hometown where he began "Smyrna Service Center" in partnership with Ed Johnson, now deceased.
"Tillie Lee Hagar was our loyal bookkeeper and friend at our appliance and hardware business before Wal-Mart put us and other small businesses out of business," Lytle assessed.
From there, Lytle began 30 years employment with Town of Smyrna government, first as a dispatcher with the police department, and later, he assumed in-house maintenance and clean-up duties for the police.
Now, we're back to the remarkable volunteerism aspect of his life, at a young and still-agile 92.
Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold described his department's volunteer: "Lytle Hodge, who comes in and helps clean at least four out of five days, is unique and one of the most remarkable good-hearted men I've met in life, and a Southern gentleman in the truest sense."