Passing of Ima Hodges

Passing of Ima Hodges
February 2012

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of one of our senior Softball NZ scorers, Ima Hodges on Friday 17 February. Ima became ill at the South Island Under 15 tournament in January and unfortunately passed away in Dunedin Hospital.

Ima was the mother of our Softball NZ Chief Scorer Sandy Wallace. Ima has been a stalwart of Otago Softball as well as being a long time scorer. Softball NZ and the softball community would like to send Sandy and her family sincere condolences at this very sad time.

Ima has been an extremely valuable and well thought of member of scoring fraternity. She has been an institution at South Island Under 15 and secondary school tournaments for more years than can be remembered. With a heart of gold, she has given so much to not only scoring, but to softball in general. She has scored all around the country, travelled to Australia with an Under 16 national team and officiated at the 2004 World Series in Christchurch.

Again, our thoughts, condolences and best wishes go out to our Chief Scorer Sandy Wallace as she and her family mourn a much loved mother, grandmother, sister and aunt. Flowers and messages etc can also be sent to Sandy at 11 Scott Street, St Kilda, Dunedin.

Every sport needs someone like Ima Hodges.
She was known as the "godmother'' of Otago softball, and never was there a more appropriate title. Hodges, who died in Dunedin on February 17 aged 71, after a short illness, poured her heart and soul - not to mention considerable hours - into a sport she loved with a passion.

Rare was the Otago diamond on a Saturday that did not have the devoted stalwart with the welcoming smile and the twinkling, slightly cheeky eyes somewhere nearby. Hodges played senior provincial softball for four seasons in the 1950s, and later managed teams and held administrative roles. But her legacy in the sport was in scoring, a part of the game that does not appeal to everyone, indeed can often seem incomprehensible with its unique marks, squiggles and notations. Hodges knew the game inside and out, and quickly proved adept at keeping score. With pad and pencil resting on her lap, she played a major role in Otago softball for decades, scoring for dozens of teams and literally thousands of games. 

Her proficiency and dedication were recognised with appointments to major tournaments, at various levels, and tours overseas, as well as to the position of New Zealand tournaments co- ordinator.

In a remarkable career highlight, Hodges was appointed one of eight statisticians at the 2004 men's world championships in Christchurch, making the cut from 23 applicants. Even more extraordinary was that she was accompanied by her daughter, Sandy Wallace, who inherited her mother's love for softball and number-crunching and would rise to the position of chief scorer in New Zealand.

Hodges, who was made a life member of Otago Softball in 1994, once told the Otago Daily Times her love for the game had not dimmed. "It's the same as when I was a player in the 1950s. It's always been part of me. I just love the game, full stop.''

Hodges was named New Zealand scorer of the year in 2006 and 2011. She also contributed to Masters Games events, and ran the Otago Evergreens team. 

In softball, every pitcher needs a good catcher, and the best batters have another slugger next to them in the order.
For Ima Hodges, her No 1 team-mate was Eric Lye, her softball soulmate and partner of 24 years. He was a distinguished umpire, coach and administrator, and the pair were inseparable on and off the diamond until Lye's death in 2005. For their tireless work in softball, and in arranging charity quizzes, the pair were finalists in the Otago Citizens of the Year awards in 1998.

As well as softball, Hodges also gave voluntary time to sports like marching, netball and basketball. As recently as January, she was helping daughter Sandy with work at Basketball Otago. It was initially through marching that she joined the group running charity quiz evenings. Described as a "fundraiser extraordinaire'' by her daughter, Hodges 
helped raise an estimated $250,000 over 15 years, organising more than 600 events.

Born on September 12, 1940, to Rozel and Syd Thomas, Hodges was the youngest of seven children, five of whom were Rozel's from a previous marriage. The family described little Ima as a "change-of-life baby'' for Rozel, who was 46 when her youngest child was born. She attended Ocean View and Tainui schools, before going on to King Edward Technical College. Hodges' first job out of school was at Arthur Barnetts. She also worked in a legal office, for General Foods, and with the Lands and Survey Department. Hodges is survived by children Garry, Suzanne (Sue) and Sandra (Sandy), five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
- Hayden Meikle.