USC Upstate News

USC Upstate Mourns the Passing of its Founder G. B. Hodge, M.D.

02- 25- 2009

Spartanburg, S.C. - Dr. G.B.  Hodge, who led in founding what is now the University of South Carolina Upstate, passed away on February 23 at the age of 91.

G B Hodge“USC Upstate is grieving the loss of its founder,” said Dr. John Stockwell, chancellor of USC Upstate. “There seems to be a sense of quiet on this campus of five thousand. Some students have painted “Thank you, Dr. Hodge” on a large rock in the center of campus. Our faculty are mindful of the loss, as are members of the Commission and other University boards.  And rightly so. No one stands taller in the history of the University than Dr. Hodge. No one’s vision extended farther.  And no one’s legacy will last longer.”

Hodge, a prominent surgeon, chronicled the history of the campus and its leadership in his memoir entitled, "Reflections on Building an Institution: The University of South Carolina Spartanburg" in 2005.

His book explains how the university was founded, and highlights the supporters behind the campus, its politics and the leadership that helped the university become what it is today. Hodge, a Spartanburg native and retired surgeon, helped establish the university in 1967, when the community faced losing its nursing program at Spartanburg General Hospital. Hodge and other community leaders believed if a two-year campus were established, the healthcare industry would continue to thrive and more students would enroll.

For more than 41 years, Hodge took pride in watching the evolution of the University, often saying, "The University has provided for many students who would not have had the opportunity to get an education, and I think it's a fine institution.”

Hodge Rock
Students pay tribute to Dr. G. B. Hodge outside the Palmetto House on campus. 

He chaired the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education, which was ultimately responsible for founding the University, from its inception for more than 28 years. At the time of his death, Hodge served as Chair Emeritus of the Commission.

“Dr. Hodge was a man of vision, character and integrity, said Jim Smith, chairman of the Spartanburg County Commission for Higher Education and a graduate of USC Upstate. “He was unrelenting in his belief that this University would realize its potential.”

Smith, who entered USC Upstate as a freshman in 1968, also said, “Dr. Hodge’s commitment made a baccalaureate level education available to me and thousands of young people and non-traditional students who would not otherwise been able to attend college. Many of our graduates are the first generation from their family to attain a university level education. My class had less than 200 students in it and today we have an enrollment of 5,000 students.”

Since its founding, USC Upstate has grown from a small, two-year campus into one of the leading metropolitan universities in the Southeast. This growth has been a direct response to the needs of the Upstate­­—a tradition that began with the University’s creation. The University has expanded well beyond nursing to include 40 bachelor’s programs in the liberal arts, sciences, business, informatics, teacher education and nursing. Master’s programs are offered in education. Forty-one years after its founding, USC Upstate boasts an alumni base of more than 17,000, of which 80 percent of these graduates remain in the Upstate to build their lives and careers.

“USC Upstate’s growth and development has far exceeded many people’s expectations, and probably even Dr. Hodge’s expectations,” said Dr. Marsha Dowell, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of the Mary Black School of Nursing at USC Upstate. “His founding of this university is a tremendous asset to Spartanburg County and to all of Upstate South Carolina.”

Hodge was a graduate of Wofford College (Phi Beta Kappa) and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and trained in surgery at Duke University, serving as Chief Resident and Instructor in Surgery.

He returned to Spartanburg in 1948 as the county’s first board-certified surgeon, and practiced general, thoracic and cardiovascular surgery for more than 50 years, heading the original accreditation committee for Spartanburg General Hospital and later serving as Chief of Surgery at Mary Black Hospital. He published numerous scholarly articles on surgical cases and served over 60,000 patients.

He led numerous organizations, including the vestry of Church of the Advent, Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Piedmont, Spartanburg County Medical Society, Spartanburg Day School (Chair Emeritus and founding member), Vanderbilt Medical Alumni Association, and the Davison Club of Duke Medical Center.

Among his many awards are honorary Doctorates of Public Service from the University of South Carolina and Wofford College, the Order of the Palmetto, Kiwanis Citizen of the Year, and the Neville Holcombe Award from the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Hodge is survived by his wife Katie Adams Hodge, a prominent volunteer in healthcare and the arts. Additionally, he is survived by his children: Susan Adams Hodge of Spartanburg, G. Byron Hodge, Jr., M.D. (Janet) of Lakeland, FL, and John Adams Hodge (Sharon) of Columbia, SC; four grandchildren: Thomas Hodge and Rachel Saul (Ryan) of Florida, and John Adams Hodge II and David James Hodge of Columbia; 3 great-grandchildren, 3 nieces and 6 nephews including Jamie Hodge (Laura), Mia Thompson (Jim), and Charlie Hodge (Ellen) of Spartanburg. 

The family will receive friends on Thursday, February 26 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at The Episcopal Church of the Advent, Parish and Community Life Center. Funeral services will be held Friday, February 27 at 10:00 a.m. at The Episcopal Church of the Advent conducted by the Reverend Roy W. Cole, III and the Reverend Dr. Clay H. Turner.  Burial will follow in Greenlawn Memorial Gardens.

In remembrance, memorial contributions may be made to the G.B. Hodge, MD Memorial Nursing Scholarship at the Spartanburg County Foundation, 242 East Kennedy Street, Spartanburg, SC  29302, or to St. Luke's Free Medical Clinic, 162 North Dean Street, Spartanburg, SC  29302. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at