Willis D. Hodson

Feb 12, 2019
Willis Hodson

Camden — Willis D. "Bill" Hodson, 92, passed away Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, at Bella Point. Born in Camden March 12, 1926, he was the son of G. Willis and Vera (Wilbur) Hodson. A member of the class of 1944 at Camden High School, Bill then enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and was stationed in England with the Eighth Army Air Corps under Gen. Curtis LeMay, who was known for his development of advanced bomber tactics. A B-17 bomber pilot at age 19, Lt. Hodson flew many missions, surviving three crashes in Europe. Most of the missions were over the fjords of Norway, flying in search of submarine pens. In 1946, Bill was discharged from active military service and continued in the Air Force reserves until 1952.

On May 16, 1948, Bill married Jean Smith in Camden and went on to attend the University of Maine at Orono. While working at Shell Elm’s, a garage in Camden owned by his father, Bill was offered a position at Ford Motor Company in Detroit after successfully completing repairs on a vehicle owned by a Ford vice president.

Bill and Jean moved to Dearborn, Mich., and he went to work at Ford as an engineer. Bill received degrees in both engineering and law at the University of Michigan. As the personal troubleshooter for Henry Ford II and later Lee Iococca, Bill traveled throughout the United States and abroad. In 1955, the Ford Thunderbird, which had been test driven by Hodson, was introduced. In addition, Bill had been instrumental in the developmental planning of the Ford Mustang, which was introduced in 1964.

Bill continued working in the automobile industry after leaving Ford, including a consulting position for the U.S. government in Washington, D.C., where he helped write the Chilton Book on Clean Air Emissions for the National Auto Safety Department in 1976. His other employment included Clayton Manufacturing Co. in Los Angeles and Massachusetts, and Bricklin Vehicle Corp. In Washington, D.C., Bill worked as a consultant for the Senate and the Department of Transportation. Bill also served as code enforcement officer for the town of Camden from 1985 to 1990.

His hobbies included hunting, fishing, woodworking and spending time at their family camp on Norton’s Pond in Lincolnville. He especially enjoyed the family fishing trips to Nicatous Lake.

Predeceased by his wife of 67 years, Jean Smith Hodson, and their beloved dog, Misty, he is survived by his children, Debra Hodson Rolland of Windham, N.H., Kimberly Hodson, of Hiram, Douglas S. Hodson, of Boca Raton, Fla., and Richard Hodson of Rockland; five grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and brother-in-law David C. Smith and his wife, Vicky, of Hope.

A graveside service will be held in the spring. If desired, memorial gifts may be made to PAWS, P.O. 707, Rockport, ME 04856. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at longfuneralhomecamden.com. Arrangements are with Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Camden.

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