Norman Hodges (`51), who served as a judge in the Sixth Judicial District for more than 44 years, died on Aug. 5, his 87th birthday, in Fallbrook, Calif., where he had a second home. Hodges succumbed to a fast-moving cancer.
Hodges was a Silver City native who followed both his father and older brother, Joseph Jr., into the law. After earning his law degree as a member of the UNM School of Law’s second graduating class, he returned to his hometown to join them in practice. He went on to serve his community as district attorney for six years before being appointed to the bench in the Sixth Judicial District in 1963, serving until 1987. After stepping down from the bench, Hodges continued to work as a judge pro tempore for many more years.
Judge J.C. Robinson of the Sixth Judicial District remembered practicing in front of Hodges as a young attorney. “He was an excellent judge,” Robinson told the Silver City Sun-News. “He never wore a robe. He was very thoughtful and did all his own research because back then there were no law clerks like there are today. He made great decisions throughout his career, and at any point in his career I would say he was one of the top five judges in the state.”
In recent years, Hodges spent part of the year in California, but he never lost his connection to his hometown.
“My uncle loved Silver City and New Mexico,” said his nephew Joe Watt of Golden, Colo. “I have never met a person who so loved and was so deeply a part of his home, his birthplace, his environment. He was an Eagle Scout and knew every bird, every plant and the name of every mountain in every direction. He made a circuit around his home, on seven acres off of Pinos Altos Road, every morning, feeding the birds (always including a covey of quail) and the deer and other critters. He caught water in rain barrels to feed the plants and animals. He protected and transplanted cactus to make sure they were part of his domain.”