Luther H. Hodges

This article is about Governor of North Carolina and U.S. Secretary of Commerce. For his son, banker and Deputy Secretary of Commerce, see Luther H. Hodges, Jr.
Luther H. Hodges
15th United States Secretary of Commerce
In office
January 21, 1961  January 15, 1965
President John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Frederick H. Mueller
Succeeded by John T. Connor
64th Governor of North Carolina
In office
November 7, 1954  January 5, 1961
Lieutenant Luther E. Barnhardt
Preceded by William B. Umstead
Succeeded by Terry Sanford
22nd Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina
In office
January 8, 1953  November 7, 1954
Governor William B. Umstead
Preceded by Hoyt Patrick Taylor
Succeeded by Luther E. Barnhardt
Personal details
Born Luther Hartwell Hodges
(1898-03-09)March 9, 1898
Cascade, Virginia, U.S.
Died October 6, 1974(1974-10-06) (aged 76)
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.
Resting place Overlook Cemetery
Eden, North Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Martha Blakeney Hodges
Louise Finlayson Hodges
Children 3
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Profession Lawyer, politician
Religion Methodist

Luther Hartwell Hodges (March 9, 1898  October 6, 1974) was an American politician, who served as the 64th Governor of the state of North Carolina from 1954 to 1961 and as United States Secretary of Commerce from 1961 to 1965.[1]


Hodges was born in Cascade,[2] Pittsylvania County, Virginia, on March 9, 1898, and moved with his family to Spray (which later merged with two other towns to become Eden, NC) when he was two years old, living much of his life there in Rockingham County, North Carolina. Hodges left for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at age 17, and moved back to Eden after college. He then went to work at Carolina Cotton and Woolen Mills in Leaksville, which was later purchased by Marshall Field. He remained with the company, working his way up from millworker to executive positions, until he retired to enter politics. In 1923, he helped form the Leaksville Rotary Club, which later became known as the Eden Rotary. In the 1940s, he was appointed to the state Board of Education and the Highway and Public Works Commission. In 1945, he served as a consultant to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and to the U.S. Army in occupied Germany.

Hodges's former residence in Washington, D.C.

Hodges was elected the state's 22nd lieutenant governor in 1952 and succeeded to the position of governor in November 1954 upon the death of Governor William B. Umstead. Two years later, he was elected on his own to a four-year term as governor. Because North Carolina had a one-term limit for governors at that time, Hodges had the longest continuous tenure in the office until the state constitution was changed and Jim Hunt was elected to a second term in 1980 . During his time in office, Governor Hodges promoted industrialization and education, while opposing implementation of the US Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Hodges backed various tactics to delay public school integration in North Carolina. He backed state legislation to suppress the NAACP. Research Triangle Park was established while he was governor. When he left his Washington post in 1965, he returned to Chapel Hill and was chairman of Research Triangle Park. In 1967, he served a one-year term as president of Rotary International.[3]

He died on October 6, 1974, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and is buried at the Overlook Cemetery in Eden, North Carolina. There is a monument in his honor near a water fountain in Eden's Freedom Park.


Hodges's son, Luther H. Hodges, Jr., was a prominent banking executive and United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce.


Political offices
Preceded by
Hoyt Patrick Taylor
Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Luther E. Barnhardt
Preceded by
William B. Umstead
Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Terry Sanford
Preceded by
Frederick H. Mueller
U.S. Secretary of Commerce
Served under: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson

January 21, 1961  January 15, 1965
Succeeded by
John T. Connor
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Richard L. Evans
President of Rotary International
Succeeded by
Kiyoshi Togasaki
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