Washington NC mayor Mac Hodges dies of COVID-19, family says

Washington, NC mayor Mac Hodges

City of Washington, NC

The mayor of Washington, North Carolina, has died from complications of COVID-19, the city announced Wednesday night.

Mac Hodges, who has been mayor since 2013, was tested for COVID-19 on July 15 with the positive results coming the following day, The Washington Daily News reported.

Hodges, whose nickname was “Bear,” was described as a “legend and a leader,” according to a City of Washington Facebook post.

“We are heartbroken. Very heartbroken,” the post said. “But, we are also thankful for his amazing leadership, vision and most importantly the friendship he provided, always with a smile, to everyone he met and had an encounter with.”

He has been hospitalized since at least July 24, according to a Facebook post from his daughter, Beth Hodges Fickling, who has provided near daily updates about her father’s condition. On July 29, doctors made the decision to place Hodges on a ventilator, and he remained intubated until his death Wednesday afternoon.

In a Facebook post announcing his death Wednesday, Fickling wrote:

“Mac Hodges’ earthly journey ended this afternoon. Words cannot express how much he meant to us. He lived the best kind of life, one filled with a family that adored him and so many friends near and far. He loved Washington, the Pirates and the beach. Wherever he went, people who met him smiled and loved him. This was true in the hospital as well. He quickly became a favorite up there.”

In recent days, Fickling wrote that her father’s case was “very complex,” and while he was slowly waking up, there were concerns about the virus’ effects on Hodges.

“They are running tests to figure out what damage the virus is causing. Lots of uncertainty and waiting,” she wrote on Monday, the day after a prayer service was held for Hodges.

Tuesday, she said the family was still waiting for test results but cautioned that “the damage is extensive.”

Hodges was a native of Beaufort County and gradated from East Carolina University, according to the Washington Daily News. He was a real estate agent before starting Hodges Appraisals, the newspaper reports.

He was re-elected mayor in 2019.

Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted his condolences Wednesday night, calling Hodges “the great Mayor of Washington, NC.”

“I’m grateful to have worked with such a strong leader and ECU supporter who made a real difference in the lives of many,” Cooper wrote.

Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly posted a photo of Hodges and himself Wednesday night, saying, “We lost a great person today.”

“He was an amazing man, community leader and loved our Pirates. Rest In Peace Mac, we will miss you,” he wrote.

The City of Washington said it offers support for the family and will work with the family to honor Hodges.

Fickling thanked people for the continued support for Hodges and her family but asked for time to grieve.

“We know people love us and want to be there for us but we ask that you give us some space and time to grieve,” she wrote. “We believe it is most important during this time of COVID to practice social distancing and the use of masks. We are not ready for visitors at this time.”

Beaufort County, with a population of about 47,000, has reported 416 coronavirus cases and two deaths, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday afternoon.

Features Editor Jessica Banov oversees coverage of entertainment, the arts, food and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. She is the Mid-Day Breaking News Editor for the Carolinas region.

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