The name of Hodson is inextricably linked and synonymous with the success that Hood College has achieved in its first century. The name is found throughout the College: Hodson Outdoor Theater, the Hodson Swimming Pool in the Gambrill Gymnasium, the Hodson Gallery in the Tatem Arts Center, the Hodson Science and Technology Center, and most recently, the new Beneficial-Hodson Library and Information Technology Center with its Beneficial-Hodson Computer Network, a campus-wide, state-of-the-art communications network which provides access not only to the Hood library, but to state, national, and international library systems.
Students have pursued their academic interests with the Beneficial-Hodson Scholarships provided by the Beneficial-Hodson Endowed Fund for Academic Excellence; faculty members have undertaken research projects through Beneficial-Hodson Faculty Fellowships; and the College has a fully funded Beneficial Chair in Economics. The scholarships, fellowships and buildings are named in recognition of Clarence Hodson, the founder of the Beneficial Corporation and his second wife, Lillian Brown Hodson.
Hodson was born in 1868 in Laurel, Del., the son of Thomas S. Hodson, a lawyer and state senator from Crisfield, Md. Raised in Crisfield, he was educated by private tutors and attended the Crisfield Academy. In 1889 he was admitted to practice law, serving with his father under the firm name of Hodson and Hodson.
In 1893, the same year as Hood’s founding, Hodson was elected president of the Bank of Crisfield, the youngest bank president in the United States at the time. The title of colonel was acquired when he was commissioned into the Maryland Militia in 1896. Throughout his 40-year business career, he was director for more than 40 banks, trust and mortgage companies, and public utilities. A pioneer and a man of vision, he sought to provide the average American worker, whose only asset was a weekly paycheck, with the opportunity to borrow money for any worthwhile purpose. He founded the Beneficial Loan Society in 1914, and at his death it had grown from one office to more than 200 offices across the United States.
In 1893 Hodson married Sarah M. Payne, and the couple had three children: Lelia, Clarence Jr., and George. Sarah Payne died in childbirth in 1898. In 1901, he married Lillian M. Brown, the daughter of a prominent Winston-Salem family who was educated at the Mount Vernon Seminary and attended Agnes Scott Institute, now Agnes Scott College. They had no children.
Hodson inherited his interest in education from his father, who settled the Hodson Trust in 1920. After Hodson’s death in January 1928 at the age of 59, his interest was carried on by Mrs. Hodson and her stepdaughter, Lelia Hodson Hynson, who died in 1992 at the age of 93.
Lillian Brown Hodson was particularly interested in the welfare of Hood College. She and Hodson first became acquainted with Hood when they visited the College on a trip through western Maryland in the 1920s. Mrs. Hodson was appointed to the Hood College Board of Trustees in 1955 and served in this capacity until her death in 1969. She generously supported the College, giving both of her time and her financial resources. Gifts from Mrs. Hodson, as well as from the Hodson Trust, made possible the construction of the Hodson Science Center, which is named in her honor.
The Beneficial-Hodson Trust has supported Maryland higher education for 80 years. Since the Trust was established in 1920, it has awarded more than $49 million to four Maryland institutions: Hood, Washington College, St. John’s College, and The Johns Hopkins University. Gifts to Hood have totaled $80 million since 1936.