Leora Hobbs became a Rodolico upon marrying Charles Rodolico in 1951. They met while he was stationed in the US Airforce in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Leora’s parents, Carl Arnold and Ruth Margaret (Meyers) Hobbs moved to a homestead near Seattle, Washington and began raising a family. Leora was born in Seattle, and spent the first six years of her life on the homestead before the family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming around 1940 (her father moved to work as a boiler maker for the railroad in Cheyenne).
At age 16, Leora met an Air Force soldier Charles Rodolico at church. Charles was actually interested in her sister, but her sister Betty (Elsie Elizabeth Jean Hobbs Davis) was interested in another soldier and arranged it so Charles ended up sitting in the back seat of the car with her “kid sister” she was in the front with her chosen boy to get to know.
Fortunately for Charles, he ended up enjoying Leora’s company and saw more and more of her, and soon after asked for her hand in marriage. Her parents were concerned that Leora was too young, but agreed to the marriage if she would wait until her 17th birthday. One week after she turned 17, Leora and Charles were married. After Charles’ service was completed, Leora began a new adventure, moving from Cheyenne across the country to New York City and later New Jersey. She remarked at times of the culture shock of moving from Cheyenne, with its frontier culture, to New York and the Rodolico family’s Italian Immigrant culture.
Charles and Leora decided to move to Texas, where he began his ministry studies and she completed her GED (she had dropped out of High School to get married), then began a quest for education at Southwest Bible College across the street from their house in Waxahachie, Texas. Her thirst for education was mirrored by her husband, as both became the first in their respective families to earn college degrees. While Charles was the “people person” of the couple, Leora was the “nerd,” reveling in science. Her son, Rod, remembers her acquiring a microscope while he was still a toddler, and exploring the microscopic world with him, leading him to a lifelong love of the sciences.
Leora began teaching at private schools in the 1960’s, and moving with the family as new opportunities arose, continued her education while helping Charles in his ministry and raising two children. Her formal education culminated in achieving her Masters of Education from North Texas State University (now University of North Texas) in Denton, Texas.
Persistence paid off. Leora was a high school drop-out who continued her education throughout her life, though that life was filled with helping Charles in his ministry and raising a family. The twenty years between High School and her Degree were filled with many endeavors supportive of others. For example, when one of the first churches Charles pastored (Flag Lake in East Texas) had a piano but no pianist, Leora took it on herself to learn to play piano to accompany hymn singing. Though not formally trained, Leora had a beautiful natural voice (soprano) which was not limited to singing while she worked at home, but added to the church services when she sang solo, in duets with Charles, and in the choirs of the churches. Music, especially opera and classical, was a constant passion in her life.
Not satisfied with her degrees, she went on to take specialized training to help primary students with learning disabilities get on the education path as much and as soon as they were able. In her career teaching Special Education at the Denton Independent School District, she developed new materials and processes which were adopted by other trainers throughout the system.
Leora was a computer nerd born too early. Her interest in science was the layman’s joy of wonderment, due to her lack of education in the area. However, as personal computers became available in the 1980’s and later, Leora was on the bleeding edge of their use in education, purchasing her own computer and using it as a tool in her teaching; creating master study sheets, tracking student progress, and trying out new ideas.
However, Leora’s technical interests were balanced by her love of nature and growing things. For her entire life, she gardened. Her vegetable gardens provided food for the table of not only her family, but of various neighbors and friends. As she got older and large scale gardening became more difficult, she began growing more herbs and flowers, but continued to exercise her “green thumb” for her entire life.
When she retired, Leora continued in her thirst for learning, taking her entire retirement bonus and, giving it to her son (a computer programmer), instructed him to get her the “best computer system this will buy.” She was also able to spend more time with her enjoyment of crafts and jewelry making, and used it as a supplemental source of income during her retirement.
Leora had a full life. Born into a rough hewn homestead in Washington State, climbing the mountains of Wyoming as a teen, marrying into a New York Italian immigrant family, then moving with her new husband to the completely different culture of Texas in the 50’s.
Leora and Charles supported the Civil Rights struggles in Texas, not by protests and marches, but simply by their choice of friends and colleagues. They defied the segregationist culture at the time by publicly associating with their friends, regardless of race, and did not avoid situations where this caused problems. They also imbedded in their children, both biological and others, the idea that all people are God’s Children and artificial distinctions based on race, gender, or sexual orientation were not to be tolerated.
Leora wanted to live her life on earth as fully as possible until it was time leave for her new life with God. She achieved this by planning her newest rose garden only a few days before going to be with the Lord. She passed peacefully to Heaven within a few hours of leaving her home of 20 years for her last visit to the hospital in Denton on 24 Mar 2014. Her obituary is here. Her description of life in the Depression is here.