JODY T HENDRY was born in Hemlock, Ohio, on June 1, 1924, to Harry and Alice Tharp, the youngest of four children. Jody loved life on the farm in Hemlock, riding her pony to retrieve the cows, plowing the fields with her dad and delivering milk to customers’ homes and markets across the county.
Jody was graduated from Central High School and attended Ohio State University, graduating with a degree in social administration. Only a young Naval officer from Fort Myers, Florida, whom she met at Ohio State, could have gotten her to leave Hemlock. Lloyd Hendry was stationed there for training and was housed in the dormitory where Jody operated the switchboard on her work- study scholarship Lloyd and Jody were married in New Straitsville, Ohio, on September 2, 1950. They began their 63 years together in Fort Myers and their extraordinary lives of family and public service. Jody was first a wife and mother, raising their two children, Harry Orrin (Hank) and Mary Christine (Peach). Jody loved her family fiercely and was devoted to them. Lloyd’s family heritage and history in Southwest Florida were important to Jody and she embraced them. Joining the First United Methodist Church of Fort Myers after her marriage to Lloyd, it became her lifelong church, and she faithfully served on numerous committees, financial drives, Altar Guild and taught Sunday School. Jody was proud to see her children and grandchildren as 5th and 6th generation members of that church.
Jody served on the PTA of Allen Park Elementary and the Fort Myers Library Board where she was instrumental in bringing the Bookmobile to town prior to the advent of branch libraries. Jody was active in Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club, serving as its president in 1969-70. She and Lloyd were members of the Edison Pageant of Light. Jody served her community on the Lee Memorial Health Park Task Force and the Lee County Infrastructure Task Force.
Jody’s love of the country and her rural roots took the family to their farm in Buckingham on the Orange River. Jody managed the farm; sometimes cattle, sometimes citrus, but always horses and ponies. She loved stating her “occupation” as “farmer”. Boy scout troops, foster children, church and Sunday School groups were welcomed for events on the farm and at the creek. The annual Hendry Family Reunion and the Easter Party were legendary.
But Jody’s true passion and interest was education and the opportunities it afforded. This led her to the Board of Trustees of then Edison Community College. She was appointed to the Board in 1974 and served for 14 years. In 1975, Jody reactivated the college’s foundation, which had in its endowment $34.25. Serving as president of the Foundation from 1975 to 1991, she took that endowment to $7.5million, the largest endowed community college foundation in the country at that time. Her involvement at Edison Community College was by far her most treasured accomplishment outside of her family. She was honored for her work by the naming of an academic building – Jody Tharp Hendry Hall. Thousands of young people in Southwest Florida received a college education at Edison Community College because of Jody Hendry, and many more were inspired and motivated by her to attend college elsewhere.
Jody is survived by her son, Harry Orrin (Hank), wife Laurel, her daughter Mary Christine (Peach) Sonne, husband Ken, grandsons, Alex Sonne, James Sonne, wife Stephanie, and Daniel Hendry, granddaughter Betsy Hendry, and two great grandchildren Hannah Hendry and Jeremy Sonne. And a sister, Mary Tharp Bope of Somerset, Ohio.
Jody passed away peacefully on Saturday, Nov 11, 2017.