Hideo “Hodi” Ikeda, faithful, loving husband, devoted father and grandfather, caring brother, dedicated, patient teacher, kind and loyal coworker, friend and neighbor, died Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, at Horizon Hospice Home, after journeying with cancer for seven years. He walked his journey with dignity and grace.
Hodi was born on Dec. 25, 1935, in Salinas, Calif., to Tsuyuko and Genroku Ikeda. He was the fourth of five brothers. The family resided in Salinas until they were interned in the Japanese Camp at Poston in Arizona during World War II. Upon release, the Ikeda family relocated to New Jersey. As a young boy, Hodi worked in fields, weeding and harvesting crops. He developed a lifelong interest in growing plants and maintaining yards. He also developed a commitment to Boy Scouts, which he nurtured in his son and grandson, and had a lifelong love for music. Hodi attended elementary school in Marlton, N.J., and graduated from Haddenfield High School in 1954. He joined the Army Reserve and served at bases on the East Coast. Following his discharge, he attended a vocational school in Camden, N.J., where he received a degree in horticulture. He owned his own garden center in New Jersey for several years.
Feeling a call to “come west,” he settled briefly in Great Falls with his brother and family, and continued his education at Eastern Montana College (now MSU Billings) with a degree in education and a specialty in special education. He taught in Forsyth for two years, and then returned to Billings, where he taught special education at Garfield, Lewis and Clark, Castle Rock and Riverside for 32 years before retiring in June of 2005. He taught academic and shop classes, and influenced many students who benefitted from his patience and attentiveness to their individual needs. He made lasting connections with his students, who often greeted him many years after their student days.
Hodi was dedicated to his family, and loved time spent traveling, camping or watching his son and now grandchildren engage in their activities. He enjoyed woodworking, photography, playing golf, fishing and playing his tenor saxophone in the Billings Community Band. On Saturdays, he delighted in listening to K-Bear Radio and said he “wanted to be remembered as having the same taste in music as Major Dan Miller”!
Hodi had a strong faith and was active in St. Bernard’s Parish, where he was baptized and confirmed on Easter in 1995. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and helped with the summer Vacation Bible School. He was always ready to assist when extra hands were needed.
Hodi is survived by Cheryl, his wife of 37 years; his son, Louis; grandson Tyrin, whom he has raised; and granddaughter Trynity and grandson James; and his grandchildren’s mothers, Megan Mangus and Elizabeth Stephenson. He is also survived by his brothers, George (Janet), Tseuigo (Enid), Kengo (Shirley); sister-in-law Alma Ikeda; brother-in-law Lee Scott (Linda); and many nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Mitsuo.
The family is grateful for the compassionate and skilled care he has received from Dr. David Christianson and the staff at Frontier Cancer, the staff at 3 Fortin and New Hop Rehabilitation at St. Vincent Healthcare and the staff at Horizon Hospice Home.
Memorials may be made to Frontier Cancer Research, 1315 Golden Valley Circle, Billings, MT 59102; St. Bernard’s Youth Program; St. Bernard’s Haiti Student Sponsorship Program; or charity of one’s choice.
Funeral Mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Bernard’s Parish at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, with interment at a later date. Please join the family for a luncheon immediately following the service.