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DM Author Richard Hodgson, 81, Dies

Richard S. Hodgson, who died Jan. 26 at age 81, spent his time on Earth well. He was a U.S. marine, printer, creative director, journalist, author, consultant, Rotarian, Christian and a world-renowned educator on catalogs and direct marketing.

Many will recognize Mr. Hodgson for his seminal 1,500-page “Direct Mail & Mail Order Handbook,” one of more than a dozen books he wrote on marketing and communications. More than 200 colleges and universities as well as employee indoctrination programs worldwide use a multimedia teaching curriculum he developed during his storied career.

Catalog consultant and author Donald R. Libey recalled his earliest days as a speaker and seminar leader where he often attended the same conferences as Mr. Hodgson.

“I remember watching him from afar at lunch tables and lecterns, surrounded by clients, students, apprentices and masters — people drawn by his unerring encyclopedic knowledge and wisdom of direct marketing,” Mr. Libey said. “He seemed then like a rock star and now, years later and in memory, like the one-of-a-kind, world-class thinker and kind guide he was for so many people.”

Mr. Hodgson was president of Sargeant House, a Westtown, PA, direct marketing and catalog development consultancy. He retired a year before his death and almost two decades after founding the business. The move to Westtown came in 1972 when he was named vice president and creative director of the Franklin Mint. He previously was director of the creative graphics division of printer R. R. Donnelley & Sons Co. in Chicago.

Among his other stints, Mr. Hodgson was president of American Marketing Services in Boston and executive editor of Advertising Requirements and Industrial Marketing Magazines in Chicago.

Mr. Hodgson, was born Oct. 18, 1924, in Breckenridge, MN, to Dr. Lorin and Ruth Sargeant Hodgson. After completing his education at North Dakota State School of Science, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943 and continued studying at three different institutions during his training.

He saw seven years of active duty during World War II and the Korean War, retiring from the Reserves in 1968 as a lieutenant colonel. While in the military, he served as combat correspondent in northern China and radio-television chief at Marine Corps headquarters in Arlington, VA.

A Valued Teacher

Mr. Hodgson was public information director at alma mater North Dakota State School of Science between tours of military duty. He also served as instructor at the school as well as at the University of Chicago and several other colleges and universities. And for many years he read weekly to students at Penn Wood Elementary School in its Winners Walk Tall program.

He was trustee and instructor for many years at the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation. In 1985, Mr. Hodgson was awarded the foundation’s Edward N. Mayer Award for Educational Leadership. Foster & Gallagher honored him 11 years later by donating $100,000 to the foundation.

Much respected by peers in marketing, Mr. Hodgson in 1998 was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame. He also managed to walk home with one of the most prestigious awards for business journalism: the Jesse H. Neal Editorial Achievement Award.

Mr. Hodgson was past president of the Rotary Club of Westtown-Goshen. He also was editor of the club’s newsletter and president of its foundation.

He was active with Christ Community Church in West Chester, PA, and Glenview Community Church in Glenview, IL, where he lived with his family for two decades before moving to Westtown. On the national level, he was involved with Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.

Mr. Hodgson, who was known to most as Dick, passed away of bone marrow disease after a three-year fight. Lois, his wife of 54 years, and their four children survive him.

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