Updated: Sep 13, 2020
In 2017, Laura Hodge, a 30-year Greeley resident, was added to the alto section.
Born in Moses Lake, Washington and reared in Meridian Idaho, Laura began piano lessons early in her childhood, and switched to the flute in about 5th grade. She grew up in a family that gathered ’round the piano, especially if additional relatives were visiting, harmonizing to hymns and popular music, also accompanied by Dad and both grandparents on their violins. When she was about 7 years old, the international music group “Up With People” came to Boise, and a flame was sparked that would smolder for almost 50 years. Her older sister was amazed by Laura’s humming “Pomp and Circumstance” for many weeks after the graduation ceremony. Throughout Laura’s childhood and teens, she gathered a multitude of songs to carry in her heart and head, able to choose one or another to comfort her through the years of life ahead.
In 1980, Laura was graduated from Meridian High School, and after sampling Washington and California, moved to Colorado and met Thomas Hodge at the Gemini Restaurant in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. In 1988, their 4th year of marriage, they opened the Real Leather Company in Greeley, Colorado. Early in this century, upon their conversion to the Catholic Church, Tom and Laura discovered a paucity of Catholic specific religious goods available in the nearby area. Boldly, they added Bibles, prayer cards, study guides, rosaries and children’s books for sale in their biker-oriented leather shop. It worked. It opened up amazing conversations.
Laura began singing in the church choirs, and when Fr. Tadeusz Kopczynski arrived in 2009, he acted as her mentor, assigning her to choose songs for the weekly Masses at Bonell Good Samaritan Retirement Center, Greeley. Fr. Rocco Porter then asked her to direct music for Masses at St. Peter Church, encouraging her to delve more deeply into the scriptures to choose songs which would reflect and expand upon the teachings for each weekend. Along the way she discovered an unknown talent for chant, and for singing the scriptures.
In 2009, Laura and Tom celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, a joyous event to be followed by a diagnosis of Tom’s advanced metastatic prostate cancer in 2010. Thomas died on Christmas, 2014, following their 30th wedding anniversary and 26 years of co-proprietorship in the Real Leather Company. Although she sang the Psalm for Tom’s funeral Mass, and continued singing at Our Lady of Peace, Laura’s deep involvement in the music ministry seemed to be on the wane, and her spontaneous outbreaks into song seemed to be at an end.
Then a man – Francisco – re-entered Laura’s life. She and Tom had become acquainted with him at a mutually enjoyed restaurant. Having changed jobs, which had taken him to different lunch places, Francisco was startled to find Laura at lunch without Tom. Learning her husband had died, he began to include her in his life. He chauffeured in a nearby city, traveling with residents of a retirement home to concerts, events, luncheons and museum tours – and soon Laura was accompanying them much of the time.
This exposure to more types of music and the arts than she had had for many years fanned that flame that was smoldering, but his suggestion that she audition for the Greeley Chorale was met with skepticism. Francisco was persistent and more aware than Laura of her need for music, and when auditions were announced in fall 2017 he encouraged her again. She auditioned … and was chosen!
That first season was overwhelming to Laura. Almost all the music was unknown to her, although it resonated within her. When it was time for the spring season, Laura had to ask for a leave of absence. Francisco’s mother had come to live with them, the fruition of much searching for a house that would be full of light and joy and enable Francisco and Laura to care for her in her “declining” years. A broken hip in December had complicated matters, necessitating 24/7 care for Madre Cuca, and Laura was no longer able to commit the time needed to the Chorale. Her request for leave was graciously accepted, and she was present when Madre Cuca completed her journey very early on Mother’s Day, 2018.
Returning to the Chorale in the fall was a joyous occasion – the music so uplifting and just plain FUN! And that smoldering flame grew stronger, strong enough for Laura to join up with 9 other Chorale women to form “Deez Galz” who will debut their a capella version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” at the 2019 Pops & Pasta!
While not quite back to the point of breaking into song at any given moment, Laura credits much of her healing from Tom’s death to the music which has come back into her life, expanded, more abundant and full of joy and praise. Being enfolded in the Greeley Chorale: the music, the melodies, the timeless, ageless words of praise and glory for our Creator doesn’t leave much room for melancholy, and Laura is grateful for the encouragement to persevere in this endeavor.