By Linda Principe
Beth Hodges—drapery fabricator, educator, speaker, trainer, installer, former Window Fashion VISION columnist and window coverings industry icon—passed away on April 26. Beth was born in Augusta on January 14, 1949. She worked at Southern Bell for thirteen years before moving to Elberton with her husband, the Hon. Thomas L. Hodges, III, where he practiced law. She was an active member of many civic organizations in Elberton, but when her twins were born, she took a break to care for the growing family.
During this time, Beth learned to sew. She began a small business making window treatments, working alone and at home in what spare time she could find between children’s activities. As the children got older, the business grew also, and Beth took opportunities to learn her trade by attending classes offered at trade shows around the country. Eventually, she qualified for every certification in the window coverings industry and became a champion for education.
Through a chance meeting, she met Cheryl Strickland, who was establishing a school to train others about window coverings. Cheryl hired Beth as instructor. Beth continued to work as a lead teacher for 17 years in addition to growing her business in Elberton. She taught classes across the country for many years. In 2014, Beth was named the education director for DöFix USA and traveled all over, presenting seminars and doing private training for the German company.
Beth was a longtime member of the board of directors of the Window Coverings Association of America and its president for two terms. She continued to present seminars at international events, trade shows, trade schools and universities throughout her working life. In addition to her designers and clients, Beth cherished her ladies who worked for her.
Beth was a loving wife, mother of five and grandmother of 11. No doubt Beth is making window treatments to make heaven an even more beautiful place. Heaven has gained a special angel. Below are heartfelt reflections from some of the industry professionals who were impacted by Beth’s skill and friendship.
Roger Magalhaes: “I had my first contact with the window coverings industry in 2006. My goal was to just ‘hang shades’ as a part-time gig. Very soon, I realized that I needed some formal hands-on training. After doing a bit of research, I enrolled in Beth’s certification program at the Custom Home Furnishings Academy in Charlotte, NC. I had no idea what to expect, but boy, did she set my standards much higher. Before that , I thought I had to have a hardcore business mind to win business, but she showed me that being soft-spoken would win business and friends.
“Beth taught me that my part-time idea could very well become a full-time company. She taught me to engage in the industry. She taught me to be professional. She taught me that you learn by sharing. She taught me so much that I wanted to follow in her steps by teaching others. She was a role model to me and to so many others in this trade. She is going to be dearly missed. But her smiley face, her southern accent and her family values will live on forever.”
Margie Nance: “I met Beth back in the 90s and spent most of my career working with her on the educational side of the industry. Beth was an amazing teacher who also wrote the installation program for the Custom Home Furnishings Academy. She was a little southern belle who would train window covering installers in her high heels and pearls. She loved her industry and had no plans to slow down. She always told me that she would keep going as long as people wanted to learn from her.
“Beth was one of those special friends that you could talk to once or twice a year and it was like you spoke yesterday. It was not unusual for our calls to last a few hours. She was always in the moment and nothing else mattered. If you were one of her students or ran into her at a conference, you always got the feeling that you were important to her, and that’s exactly how she felt about the people who came into her life. What I will miss most about my dear friend will be the enormous hugs she always gave when we got together. I was blessed to have known her as an industry icon, loving wife and a proud mother/grandmother to all her kids.”
Pamela DeCuir: “I was her client, she was my mentor, but more than that, we were friends. We met at a window fashions industry show in the mid 90s. Beth had a way of making everyone feel important and she was fun to be with.
“Our working relationship began in 1996 when Beth became my main workroom. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work because I was in New Jersey and she was in Georgia, but she assured me that it would be no problem. She was right. Beth’s knowledge of fabrics, hardware and installation techniques, plus her creativity, made me a better designer. Later on, we created and gave lectures to the industry describing the working relationship between designers & workrooms. Beth would unofficially call it “The Beth & Pam Show.”
“The industry will miss this shining star. I can only add that I will always be grateful for her friendship and kindness, her humor and humanity, her counsel and her warmth. Rest in peace beautiful lady.”
Sandra VanSickle: “I met Beth back in the early 2000s, but her close bond with the VanSickle family was formed with Ken when he took her installation classes at CHF. Her enthusiastic approach to teaching and her investment in the lives of her students helped lead Ken to the successful business he has today. Anytime she saw Ken, you could hear in her voice and see in her eyes just how proud she was of him. I was happy for them, but I was secretly a bit jealous I didn’t have that bond with her too.
“Thankfully, my time came. My special bond with Beth was sealed at the Artisan Project weekend in 2019. Beth and I chatted many times over that weekend. Before we parted, she came to tell me just how much she enjoyed getting to know me better. She made me feel special. I’m so deeply saddened by her passing, but she can rest knowing we will all find a piece of her embedded in our lives.”
Terri Booser: “Beth was a one super lady who meant so much to so many people. I was so fortunate to meet her very early in my career. We forged an instant bond. She loved to call me her little sister, but in truth, for me, she was the nurturing mother hen. She had a saying that I know everyone who took a class from her heard: “Put your big girl panties on and deal with it.” I really do not remember the situation surrounding the first time she said it to me, but it always resonated in difficult times. She even gave me an apron with this saying that I hung on my office wall, just in case I forgot. The apron will stay on the wall always, and Beth will stay in my heart.”
Jill Ragan Scully: “My friendship with Beth began in late 2014, when she traveled to Minnesota for a WCAA event. Our little local chapter wanted to learn all about Döfix, so Beth flew in and I picked her up from the airport. I’ll admit I was a little nervous picking someone up at the airport I had never met. As I slowed down at the curb in the pickup line, there she was, waving her arms like a little kid so I would see her. I knew right then she was part of my ‘tribe.’
“We had a little time to spare, so we headed to the Mall of America so she could tell her family and friends she had been there. We walked around and then sat in a Starbucks coffee shop for what seemed to be about 15 minutes, but ended up to be around two hours. She was so easy to talk to. She was a genuinely nice person down to the core and completely focused on our conversation. Beth and I shared details about our families and discussed the drapery industry. I felt that we entered that coffee shop as strangers and left with a bond that would last a lifetime.
“In my last communication with Beth, I reached out to her via email and signed the email telling her I loved her. Then we had a sweet dialogue where we wondered why more friends don’t say those three words more often to each other. I will love you forever, B.”