James Francis Dodd, Sr.
December 26, 1936 – December 14, 2020
James Francis Dodd, Sr. also known as Big Jimmy, Farmer Dodd, Bubbles or
Pa Pop, of New Paltz, NY passed away suddenly at the age of 83 in his home on The Dodd Farm with his loyal wife of 52 years Veronica by his side. His death was not Covid-related.
Big Jimmy was born at Kingston City Hospital in 1936 to Marie and John Dodd. He grew up with numerous first and second cousins around the Hudson Valley and attended the former Campus School on the campus of SUNY New Paltz for kindergarten through 8th grade and then New Paltz High School (NPHS), graduating in 1955 from what is now the New Paltz Middle School building. He was a 4-sport athlete at NPHS competing in football (wearing a leather helmet and no face mask), basketball, baseball, and track and field. He was voted Most Popular (with Joan Pole) and Biggest Flirt (with Barbara Jansen) as a senior in the school yearbook. He was influenced during those younger days by lifelong friends Donnie Jayne (son of George Jayne of Pat & George’s/P & G’s fame), Van Pine, Warren Shand, and Donny VanKleek.
Big Jimmy matriculated to Cornell University where he joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and earned a 2-year certificate in dairy farming. He transferred to Siena College to become a teacher and earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics in 1960. His first position in education was at the former Highland Training School. He then got a teaching job in Poughkeepsie in 1962 at Franklin Elementary. After it closed, he moved to Warring Elementary School where he also completed his principal internship while taking classes for his administrative license at SUNY Plattsburgh and NYU before earning a Master of Science in Education from SUNY New Paltz in 1966. He also coached football at Poughkeepsie High School and rowing on the Hudson River. While in Poughkeepsie we developed friendships with Frank “Cooch” Coulard and Jim Clarke. Initially the interim principal at Krieger Elementary, he later got the job fulltime. Big Jimmy also had stints at Columbus Elementary School and in the central office. He spent 30 years serving the Poughkeepsie City School District, and he is credited with helping desegregate Poughkeepsie schools in the early 60s.
Retiring from Poughkeepsie in 1992, he began supervising student teachers at Marist College, then instructing classes, and eventually serving as head of the education dept. with old friend Ed Sagarese. During his 20 years at Marist he loved working with young people, telling stories, the dept.’s partnership with the Hawaii Dept. of Education, and helping college students find their first jobs. He was a fixture at Marist College basketball games and other sporting events with his good ole boys “Coach” Billy Freer, Jeff Ackert, John Ford, and Joe Helhoski, who often joined him for coffee on the porch at Ireland Corners General Store, stories at one of their regular lunches at P & G’s, or the Paltz Club where he served for a time as President. Big Jimmy also enjoyed traveling to Giants games with Coach Freer and Gary and Bobby Stauderman.
Big Jimmy lived a full life as a son, brother, husband, father, uncle, grandfather, neighbor, and friend. He was an educator, a farmer, a parishioner of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and a community member. He was proud of his Irish heritage and spent many years playing men’s league softball back in the day with the Log Rail Inn, Wrights Farm, Benson’s, and P & G’s. He volunteered as a coach and president of the New Paltz Little League, served as president of the NPHS Athletic Association, and led the fundraising effort with Ken Burda to put lights on NPHS’ Floyd Patterson Field for Friday night games beginning with the 1987 season. Just the 3rd school in Section 9 to have lights (Kingston and Middletown being the other two.). Big Jimmy found his greatest joy on The Dodd Farm, which has been in the family since 1905. He boarded horses, raised chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, rabbits, guinea hens and beef cattle, and had memorable trips trailering animals to auctions with Mike Soule. He also spent years helping next door at Dressel’s Farm. He was an expert tractor-driver and enjoyed giving tours and chatting up Dressel’s visitors on pick-your-own days during apple and strawberry seasons and recommending the famous “Farmer Dodd Sundae” at their ice cream stand. He, Pa Pop, was most proud of his 6 grandkids. Big Jimmy had a quick wit, healthy sense of humor, and being the life of the party. He genuinely enjoyed being around other people and getting to know them and their kids, which attracted people to him. He was very generous with his time and willing to share what he had. He will be deeply missed by those who experienced his enthusiasm and friendship over the years.
James Francis Dodd, Sr. was predeceased by his parents Marie and John Dodd. He is survived by his wife Veronica Tierney Dodd, son Jimmy Dodd, Jr. of Apopka, FL, son Tommy and wife Amy Dodd of Fort Collins, CO, daughter Jenny and husband John Poitras of Parkton, MD, granddaughters Riley Dodd, Delany Dodd and Chloe Dodd, grandsons Thatcher Poitras, Ryan Dodd, and Mac Poitras, sister Marie and husband George Rusk of Marlboro, NY, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted towards a NPHS scholarship to be created in Jim Dodd’s name for college bound seniors interested in pursuing a career in agriculture or education. They may be sent to Tom Dodd, 2651 Autumn Harvest Way, Fort Collins, CO 80528.
Copeland-Hammerl Funeral Home is honored to assist Jimmy’s family with the arrangements.