Take all of the reporters at Oswego County Today, the Palladium-Times and the Valley News.Â Throw in the Oswego County Weeklies for good measure.Â Add up all of their years of experience covering Oswego County.Â Chances are very good the number will be less than 50.Â That’s how many years Roy Hodge has spent telling the stories of Fulton at the Fulton Patriot.Â The author of this story wasn’t even walking when Hodge worked his first day in journalism in the city.
Hodge retires today.
It’s the near-end of a career that began 51 years ago as a linotype operator for the weekly newspaper, back in the days when the paper was printed by setting metal letters in place on a press.Â He went to school for linotype operation, put his name in a newspaper trade publication and was soon hired by Joe Swiatlowski at the Patriot.
Over half a century, he served the publication in many roles: sports reporter, columnist, publisher and owner.Â After the Valley News bought the Patriot, Hodge continued as the Patriot’s editor and sole staffer.Â His weekly column, Hodgepodge, chronicled events in his life and introduced the community to his family, as it also brought up trivia, local history and more.
The column in the past week’s Patriot, for example, mentions grandson Camden’s academic and athletic success in Virginia and closes with a list of local history trivia.
“I’ve always liked writing,” said Hodge. “You’d think I’d be better at it.”Â He laughs. Several times during a brief interview, he deflects questions about himself with a self-deprecating joke and a laugh.Â He is old-school.
“You ran a gentleman’s newspaper,” said former Mayor and current Alderman Daryl Hayden, as the Common Council presented Hodge with a proclamation in his honor which mentioned not only his fondness for Fulton but his love of Peeps marshmallow candy.Â “You’ve been a class act.Â You are Fulton.”
The week before that, Fulton Board of Education members paid similar tribute to Hodge as he covered their meeting.
Hodge grew up in Syracuse and is living back in the city’s Valley section now.Â His first marriage produced three children, including son Jeff Hodge, who served the city as the second-in-command at the Community Development Agency.
The Patriot will continue after he’s gone. Hodge will continue to write his column, at least for a few more months.Â Then he’ll retire to his gardening and his cooking and the family he’s shared with Fulton for decades.