June 02, 2022

In Remembrance: Robert Hodge, Professor Emeritus of History, former tennis coach

Professor Hodge passed away on Feb. 16, in Vista, Calif., prompting an outpouring of love and appreciation from former students and tennis players.

Robert Hodge Robert Hodge
Credit: Beloit College Archives
Longtime history professor and women’s tennis coach Bob Hodge began teaching at Beloit in 1964 when he was barely older than his students. It marked the beginning of a glorious 47-year tenure in which he established himself as a favorite teacher and advisor to generations of students, served as history department chair for 15 years, and — unexpectedly — filled a “temporary” role coaching women’s tennis that lasted nearly three decades.

Hodge was known for being both fun and demanding in the classroom, with an infectious enthusiasm for history and an abiding interest in students.

When he was recruited as an interim coach, Hodge discovered another passion. He coached women’s tennis over 28 seasons to win five Midwest Conference Championships and compete at the national level several times. He also helped produce 44 individual tennis champions, with the most individuals in Conference history in singles and doubles. He kept in touch with former students and players and visited them where they lived around the world.

“I loved every day at Beloit,” he told the Beloit Daily News upon his retirement. “It wasn’t like a job. I loved being an historian here. Then I loved that I was recruited to be [the] tennis coach. That was unexpected, but I loved every minute of it, too. Beloit was a perfect fit for me.”

Professor Hodge earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Central Michigan University and his Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He retired in 2011 and was inducted into the college’s Athletic Hall of Honor in 2016.

After Beloit, Bob and his wife, Diane, built a home in California. He taught for six years at the University of San Diego and served as a lecturer for Holland America Cruise Lines. Diane survives him along with two sons, two stepsons, and six grandchildren.

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