Bernheim at 90: The Hodge Family, An unmatched History at Bernheim

By volunteer

In Bernheim’s 90 year history there have been many people whose giant contributions have made this arboretum and research forest possible. Without doubt, Isaac Bernheim was foremost in that group but he was far from alone. Most of the names are not  familiar to Bernheim visitors but their vision and efforts have been key in making this forest sanctuary available to us all. It is appropriate that we look back at some of those contributions. This is the fifth in a series of posts to highlight those efforts. (click here to read part 1click here to read part 2click here to read part 3, click here to read part 4)

Ronnie Moore (left) and Kevin Hodge (right) representing the Hodge family legacy at Bernheim in 2005.

Bernheim has always been a place for everyone but it has a special attraction for families.  Obviously many families visit every day to make a closer connection with nature.  Families have celebrated marriages, welcomed new children, reminisced at reunions and and made Bernheim an integral part of their lives in many other ways as well,  Family members have often chosen to spend time volunteering at the forest.  Other families have found opportunities to be employed together at the forest.  Bernheim has benefitted from the contributions of married couples, brothers, sisters, parents and children; all of those families realizing the value of being part of the Bernheim Forest family.  One family stands apart in terms of their numbers, their length of service, and their overall efforts in creating this place and continuing to work to improve it for the benefit of all of us – the Hodge family.

Carl Hodge, Calvin Hodge, Carolyn Hodge, Eddie Hodge, 

Elvin Hodge, Golden Hodge, Harry Lee Hodge

Hodge family members have been part of Bernheim Forest from the very first day. In fact, several Hodge family members lived and worked on this land even before Isaac Wolfe Bernheim purchased it. Hodges worked here when the land was owned by Dr Wedekind and operated as his dairy farm.  Hodges signed up with the very first group of workers when the Bernheim Foundation was established and have formed an unbroken chain of valued employees for all ninety years of its existence.

James Hodge, Jessie Hodge, Jessie Hodge Jr., Layton Hodge, Leo Hodge,

Marion Hodge, Mike Hodge, Owen Hodge, Patricia Hodge

Hodges have helped build our roads and trails, excavated land for our lakes and ponds and helped construct buildings. They have fenced the perimeter, patrolled for poachers, been on watch at the fire tower (and fought the fires that were spotted), worked with our naturalists, greeted visitors at the gate, mowed the grass, staffed the nursery, and maintained the equipment.  The first telephone system in the forest connected the fire tower to a Hodge family home on Bernheim property and included lines to other family members.  The Bernheim water plant was operated by a Hodge and Hodges have worked to create and maintain our renowned arboretum. If you are getting the impression that the Hodge family is, and always has been, a vital part of what makes Bernheim special, you are absolutely correct.

 Raymond Hodge, Robert Hodge, Roy Hodge, 

Sandra Hodge, Stanley Hodge, Vernon Hodge, 

Pete Perkins 

Today, the Hodge family is ably represented by Kevin Hodge and Ronnie Moore (whose mother was a Hodge as was Pete Perkins’s mother).  They have been key members of the Bernheim Operations and Natural Areas teams for many years.  Ronnie recently retired from his full time job but we are grateful that he continues to assist on a part-time basis.  We hope that they, and other members of their family, will continue to be a part of the Bernheim Family for many years to come. Pictured below is Ronnie Moore (left) and Kevin Hodge (right)  in 2019. We are so grateful for their daily contributions in making Bernheim a better place to work and experience as a visitor!



Ken Johnson, Bernheim Volunteer Naturalist

In 2019, Bernheim celebrates 90 years of connecting people with nature. At over 25 square miles, Bernheim is the largest privately held forest dedicated to conservation and education in the region. Our arboretum is home to plant collections of over 8,000 varieties, public art, and educational programming for thousands of students.  Our pristine forest hosts hikers and outdoor adventures alongside research and conservation projects which will serve to protect the environment for future generations.

As a 100% member and donor supported organization, we could not fulfill this important mission without you. We hope you’ll continue to support our efforts throughout the next 90 years.  Join or donate by clicking here.

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