On Monday of the Angel, a week before his 74th birthday, John Thomas Hodny breathed his last breath the evening of April 13th, 2020, at home surrounded by his family. Born in Grafton, ND, on April 21, 1946, John was raised by Pauline and Thomas Hodny on the family farmstead located next to Bechyne Church and Hall near Lankin, ND. John grew up working on the family farm and that continued until shortly after 1964 when he graduated high school in Lankin and left to study the trade of plumbing and heating at ND State College of Science in Wahpeton.
John married Sandra I. Woodruff on June 26, 1965, and they moved to Lakota in the fall of 1967. John began working as a plumber for Zacha Plumbing and Heating until he eventually purchased the business when the owner, John Zacha, decided to retire. Starting out with a partner and later becoming a sole owner, John poured the next 50 years of his life into growing his business and serving his customers. John loved his work, his clients, and always made himself available to meet the needs of his customers. It was on more than one occasion that he took meat or other items in trade for services when someone was unable to pay.
John was one of those rare individuals who could fix anything and you would always see him tinkering on something. John enjoyed hunting and fishing, and nearly every fall, the back of the Zacha Plumbing and Heating shop would turn into a meat packing plant at deer hunting season. For a number of years, he hosted a group of friends from New York at his home and that made the season even more special. If you knew John, you knew he had a mind that was always working and it came in very handy when he was playing pinochle because he always knew what trump was already played. On Sundays, if you happen to stop by his shop, you would hear Polka Party on the radio and he would always have a beer or soda on hand.
John and Sandy raised three children in Lakota, and he considered Lakota his home because of the close friendships he had developed living there for most of his life. Even though he had moved his family to town, you could tell that farming was in his roots by the size and quality of his garden every summer. John loved to dance and he attended many weddings at Bechyne hall over the years. He enjoyed playing pool and cooking and his children remember how he first taught them to bet on the horses using what looked like monopoly money (Canadian dollars) at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Canada. They will also keep with them a love of antiques that has stemmed from many summers attending auctions.
In 2014, he and Sandy started going to Burnett, TX for the winter. It was at the Big Chief RV resort that he and Sandy made a new group of winter friends. It wasn’t long into their time at the resort that John managed to become the campground handyman and be the one that was called whenever anything needed fixing. He was not one to sit idle and people loved chatting with him. Although his job kept him ‘retired’ busy during the day, he always shut it down in time for daily ‘happy hour’ with his neighbors and friends.
John will be deeply missed by his wife, Sandra Hodny; son, John Curtis (Lisa) Hodny of Ferndale, NY; daughters, Trish Hodny and Jodi Hodny, both of Grand Forks, ND; his five grandchildren, Tessie and Stevan Compton, and Lucas, Isabella, and Katharine Hodny; his great grandchild, Jamie Compton; a brother, Bennie Hodny; a sister, Annie Admason; his half-brothers, Ed, Scott, and Ron Brandvold; and half-sisters Bonnie Johnson and Carrie (Bob) Banish.
John was preceded in death by an infant daughter; both of his parents; sisters, Marcella Brandvold and Arlene Zacha; brother, Jerry Hodny; half-brother, Rick Brandvold; and daughter-in-law, Bonnie Hodny.
The service to celebrate John’s life will be held at the Aaker Funeral Home of Lakota, ND, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. Those in attendance are requested to wear casual attire. The celebration will continue at the American Legion Club following the service. John’s cremated remains will be buried during the committal service at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Cemetery, Bechyne, near Lankin, ND, on Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.
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