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Woman marks 100th birthday, 30 years of volunteering

Peggy Hodgson (right) celebrates her 100th birthday and 30 years of volunteering at Banner Thunderbird Hospital. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A big party was thrown Wednesday at Banner Thunderbird Hospital in Glendale.

The celebration of Peggy Hodgson's 100th birthday also marks her 30th anniversary of volunteering at the hospital. Dozens of friends, family and co-workers surprised her by showing for the surprise party.

After working for a telephone company in New York for 45 years, Hodgson and her husband, George, retired and moved to Arizona in 1974. George has since passed away.

In 1984, she started volunteering at the hospital at the age of 70.

"I had always wanted to volunteer at a hospital," said Hodgson, adding she likes to help and pray for people.

She started first in the emergency room, where she made beds and took care of children while their parents were being treated.

"They would always say ‘We're hungry, we want to eat!' So I would take them to the employee lounge to go get breakfast or something."

People at Wednesday's ceremony laughed as Hodgson told them that her job was also to make sure that the kids didn't start playing on the elevator. She said that was pretty tough when kids were bored and looking for something to do.

These days, she's doing work in the office.

"I fill out a bunch of paperwork for the doctors," she said. Hodgson then laughed when she said "At least I think it's for the doctors!"

She works one day a week, and has no plans to quit.

"As long as God wants me to stay on this earth, I want to stay here (at this hospital)," she said. Then she joked "If anything happens to me, I want to be HERE, not home."

She thinks that if she's at the hospital when any trouble comes, the doctors will be there to help her and God will give her even more time on this earth.

Her secret to a long life?

"I don't eat much, and I don't drink," said Hodgson. "But then she quipped "Come to think of it, maybe I should drink!"

But she also credits her long life to lots of dancing and lots of prayer.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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