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story.lead_photo.caption At left are Glen and Gloria Hodges and at right are Rich and Karen Custard. The two men grew up together and will be honored at the Kingdom of Callaway Supper on March 6. Photo by Jenny Gray / Fulton Sun.

You don't have to be born in Callaway County and move away to be honored back home — but it helps.

This year, Glen Hodges will be the guest of honor of supper President Rich Custard. He was formerly a resident of New Bloomfield who now lives in Texas. Custard and Hodges are boyhood friends, so when making his selection, Hodges popped into Custard's mind.

"We went to (New Bloomfield) school and graduated together," Custard said. "We did sports together. We've been apart because of our professional lives."

The 113th Kingdom of Callaway Supper will be March 6 at William Woods University. The President's Reception will be at the Kemper Arts Center from 5-6:30 p.m. The dinner will be at 7 p.m. at Tucker Dining Hall, and then people will move to Dulaney Auditorium for the 8 p.m. program. The event is $15 per ticket. Entertainment will be provided by Double Down.

The supper was established in 1906. Last year, supper President Roger Moser invited Larry M. Doyle, a former educator and current consultant.

Custard has spent his entire life in the New Bloomfield area.

"I've spent my entire 60 years here — they couldn't run me off," he said, laughing.

While in high school and college, Custard worked at Meadow Lake Acres Golf Course where he is still employed. His first day was June 1, 1974, and he worked there until 1980. In 1981, he became a golf course superintendent at Fulton County Club, but two years later went back to Meadow Lake Acres. While at Fulton CC, he met his wife, Karen, who was a life guard at the pool. Now she also works as food and beverage manager at Meadow Lake Acres and they have four children.

Custard said he is proud to oversee the annual supper event.

"This thing is an honor. This thing has been going on since 1906. It's a chance to showcase our family and where I work," he added. "I'm very proud of Meadow Lake Acres and just proud of being from Callaway County.

"I was selected (as president) at last year's supper and I had to keep my mouth shut for a year."

Hodges was raised on a 10-acre homestead just east of New Bloomfield. His father, Richard, was an automobile mechanic and his mother, Shirley Smith-Hodges, was a waitress, a retired factory worker and finished her working career as a convenience store attendant in Holts Summit.

Both of his parents were born and raised Callawegians. He is second oldest of seven children with his only sister right behind him. He was baptized at Providence Baptist Church in New Bloomfield.

Hodges graduated from New Bloomfield High School in 1976 along with his high school sweetheart, Gloria Backer, who was later to become his wife and mother of their four children. She is retired from the state of Missouri working for the Department of Corrections and the Department of Social Services.

Athletics helped him to develop the skills he would need, because once he graduated high school he immediately went into the U.S. Air Force as an air traffic controller.

Hodges completed a six-year tour of duty as an air traffic controller in the Air Force, and then worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for 22 years.

In the FAA, he worked in the tower cab at Wichita Mid Continent Airport and then made his way back to Missouri via Iowa. While working full time and raising his family in Cedar Rapids, Hodges was able to graduate from Kirkwood Community College with an Associate of Applied Science majoring in management.

In 1987, the family moved back to central Missouri where he worked at the Automated Flight Service Station at the Columbia Regional Airport. He obtained a bachelor of science degree in management at Columbia College.

Hodges was very active in his children's spiritual growth and their education, never missing a parent-teacher conference and coaching his daughter's youth sport leagues, as well as umpiring for his boy's baseball games.

The FAA outsourced the Flight Service Station option of Air Traffic in 2005 to the Lockheed Martin Corp., one of the largest private defense contractors in the country. He was able to obtain a master of business administration from Columbia College during at that time.

No longer a federal employee, he watched technology and the reality of profit come into play. Lockheed Martin immediately started an aggressive consolidation program. Hodges was the last and only supervisor to close down the Columbia facility in 2010.

"It's been a wonderful career field," Hodges said.

Hodges moved from Missouri to Minnesota, then to Washington, D.C. He currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas. After living in many different places, Hodges and Gloria look forward to the day when they can come back home to their roots in Callaway County.

One of the greatest lessons Hodges said he learned was going through cancer diagnosed as terminal with his 17-year-old son and realizing he could not fix this tragedy on his own. He said he firmly believes his son is alive today due to the power of prayer.

He, too, said he is honored to participate in the supper event.

"It's just such a privilege to brag about growing up in New Bloomfield," he said, adding his family roots go deep there. "These are hardworking and decent people."

Other awards will be given to:

Settler's Award: Fulton Mayor LeRoy Benton.

Distinguished Service Award: The Super Sam Foundation. This award goes to an organization or person who has served the county in a significant or positive manner, touching the lives of many.

Tickets for the 113th annual Kingdom of Callaway Supper are on sale now. The program also will include naming the group's next president — someone who was born in Callaway County.

Get tickets at Callaway Chamber of Commerce, The Callaway Bank, Central Bank, United Security Bank, Mosers in Fulton and Holts Summit, Crane's Store, Meadow Lake Acres club and Short Stop in Millersburg.

Ham and turkey will be offered at the supper, and Custard said he wants to exceed the 275 tickets that were sold last year.

For more information, contact Director Debbie LaRue at 573-592-6318.

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