News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 21, 2014

Billy Joe Dodson


TERRE HAUTE — Billy Joe Dodson, 89, of Terre Haute died at 11:40 a.m. Saturday (April 19, 2014) at home.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Thursday, April 24, 2014 at Centenary United Methodist Church, 301 N. Seventh St., Terre Haute, with the Rev. Jimmy Moore officiating. Burial will be in Roselawn Memorial Park, Terre Haute. Visitation will be 4 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home, 605 S. 25th St., Terre Haute, with Masonic rites to take place at 7:00 p.m. Visitation will also be from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday at the church.

Bill was born April 26, 1924, in Terre Haute, the younger son of Clifton E. “Tip” Dodson and Doris Newhart Dodson. He attended Thornton Elementary and Junior High School and graduated from Wiley High School in 1942. He attended Indiana State Teachers College before being drafted in the U.S. Navy in 1943. He was quartermaster aboard LST 51 during World War II, serving in Italy, North Africa, the D-Day invasion of Normandy and in the Pacific Theatre, including the Philippines, the Carolinas, the Ryotos and Japan.

Bill married Betty Louise Milholland, his childhood friend and neighbor, on May 25, 1946, at Centenary Methodist Church in Terre Haute. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Indiana State Teachers College in 1948 and his master’s degree there in 1952. While working on his bachelor’s degree, he worked as a bookkeeper at his father’s garage, where trucks were repaired. Bill and Betty taught in Alaska territorial schools in Kenai and Ouzinkie (Spruce Island) from 1950 to 1953, returning to Terre Haute each summer. They moved back to Terre Haute in 1953, and Bill began teaching social studies at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School. He later became guidance counselor for the school and was instrumental in the 1976 renovation of the school.

He was president of the Terre Haute Teachers Association when the city schools merged with the Harrison Township schools and remained active with the Vigo County Teachers Association. He served on the state curriculum committee and on junior high school evaluation committees for the North Central Association. He was also a member of the Phi Delta Kappa honorary education organization. He attended a National Education Association convention in Seattle, serving on the committee that installed Hilda Maehling as president of the Classroom Teachers Association.

Bill was a longtime member of Centenary United Methodist Church, serving for many years on its board of trustees. He taught junior high Sunday school, served as Sunday school superintendent, was a teacher of the Friendship Class and was instrumental in the planning and installation of the church elevator and the new front doors. Bill designed and built his and Betty’s first home at 24th and Deming streets, and after his retirement, designed and extensively renovated his boyhood home on Wilson Street, where they moved in 1995. He also helped renovate a cabin built by his grandfather on Eel River in Clay County into a home for his son Bob and his family. Bill and Betty loved to travel and regularly took their family on summer vacations. Bill and Betty traveled to all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, Panama, Australia and New Zealand, among other places. Their last major trip was to England and Scotland in 2010.

In addition to being proficient in carpentry, plumbing, electrical and roofing work, Bill was an excellent cook, preparing meals when he got home before Betty and baking pies, cakes and bread in his retirement. He enjoyed swimming, canoeing and yard work, did several oil paintings and belonged to a square dance group with Betty during the 1960s. As a young man, he was active in DeMolay and served as a DeMolay Dad for the William H. Baugh Chapter of the Order of DeMolay. He was a 32nd-Degree Mason belonging to Lodge 19 and was also a member of the Scottish Rite. Bill also served as a Cub Scout leader in Terre Haute and as a Boy Scout leader in Alaska. Later in life, he served on the Terre Haute Symphony Association’s board of directors, was active with Betty in Friends of the (Vigo County Public) Library and was involved in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, leading its current events class for many years.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, on Feb. 2, 2013, and by his older brother, Clifton E. Dodson Jr., on May 8, 2012. Survivors include: a daughter, Margaret Kirwan of Bloomington, Ind., and her husband Dan; two sons, Bob Dodson of Centerpoint, Ind., and his wife, LaVonne; and Don Dodson of Champaign, Ill; a grandson, Steven Dodson of Mishawaka, Ind., and his wife, Anna; a granddaughter, Leslie Hensley of Indianapolis, and her husband, Josh; a great-grandson, Connor Hensley of Indianapolis; and several nephews and nieces.

Memorials may be made to the Centenary United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, 301 North 7th Street, Terre Haute, IN 47807, the Vigo County Education Foundation, 686 Wabash Avenue, P.O. Box 3703, Terre Haute, IN 47803 or the Terre Haute Symphony Association, 25 North 6th St., Terre Haute, IN 47807. Funeral information may also be found at: