George Arnett Hodgman of Paris, Missouri | 1959 - 2019 | Obituary
January 30, 1959 - July 20, 2019
George Arnett Hodgman, 60 of Paris, passed away at his Manhattan home on Saturday, July 20, 2019.
George was born on January 30, 1959 in north-central Missouri, the son of George (Big George) and Elizabeth (Betty) Baker Hodgman. He lived in Madison, Missouri the first years of his life, later moving to Paris, Missouri. George graduated from Paris R-II High School in 1977.
He is survived by his three cousins, Molly (Sean) Roarty and their children Michael and Margaret Roarty; Lucinda Baker; Mimi (Jim) McRoberts and their children Lucinda and Jon (Katrina) and their daughter, Ila; and his beloved dog, Raj. George was preceded in death by his parents.
After high school George attended the University of Missouri and graduated in 1981, with a double major in English and Journalism. He earned his master’s degree from Boston College. George started his publishing career in New York with Simon and Schuster. He then became an editor at Vanity Fair magazine for several years before becoming an executive editor with Henry Holt and Houghton Mifflin. George worked on Kevin Boyle’s Arc of Justice, National Book Award winner and finalist for Pulitzer Prize; and with Anthony Shadid on Night Draws Near, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
In 2012, George returned to Paris for a short visit for his mother’s birthday. He decided to stay as her caregiver and began writing Facebook posts about his life with her, which eventually turned into his memoir Bettyville. It debuted at No. 9 on the New York Times bestseller list, became a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named by the Times of London as one of the best books of 2016.
George wrote in Bettyville: “I have been most touched, just completely moved, by the support, encouragement, and love expressed by the people from home. There’s stuff in this book that may shock them a little, but I do really hope that they get that this piece is filled with love for where I am from and that it is, finally as much as anything, a book about home, about the importance of having one, about how we can’t let the places that feel like home slip away in a world that doesn’t value them enough.”
Although he spent most of his adulthood amidst the glamour and excitement of New York City, George considered Paris home, and he and his dog, Raj were a familiar site as they made their daily walks around town. “I loved these towns, the characters who inhabited them, and all the stories that a nosy kid like me could manage to eavesdrop on. All my life, the people in these places have stayed in my head, rattling around, chatting, and causing trouble in what was already a noisy place.”
George was known and beloved for his tenderness, his wicked sense of humor, his championing of the elderly and society’s abandoned and vulnerable, his clarion-call Facebook posts and slashing opinions of current affairs. But most of all for his wisdom and big-hearted embrace of his mother in her last years.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, July 29, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. at the First Christian Church, in Paris, with Reverend William (B.T.) Mitchell and Reverend Will Ryan officiating. Visitation will be from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 28, 2019, at the church. Burial will be in Sunset Hill Cemetery in Madison. Agnew Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Downtown Paris Partnership, Inc, Attn: Kay Gray, TPNB, P. O. Box 228, Paris, MO 65275; Central MO Humane Society, 616 Big Bear Blvd, Columbia, MO 65202 or your local humane society or animal shelter; Missouri Preservation, 319 North 4th Street, St. Louis, MO 63102 or Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, P. O. Box 93, Mount Juliet, TN 37121 – ofsds.org.