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Oklahoma wheat enthusiast reaps the example sown by others

Mark Hodges talks about how many individuals within and outside the wheat industry, including two specifically, have influenced how he strives to serve others.
by Bryan Painter Modified: July 13, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: July 13, 2014

Henry Jo VonTungeln and Paul Jackson are both deceased, but not forgotten. Each was an example to live by for Mark Hodges.

Hodges, 60, of Oklahoma City, has long been involved in the wheat industry, from the plant itself to the marketing of the grain. Currently he is executive director of Plains Grains Inc./Oklahoma Genetics Inc., which tests wheat for quality. But for many years he was employed by the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

“I have had the honor and privilege over my career to have known and worked for some of the most generous individuals and their families in this state,” Hodges said, “beginning with the boards who give freely of their time and energy at the cost of their own business. They do this because they know the value and need to be involved in making the future better for the next generation, in their case, of agriculture.

“There are also two in this group that had a profound effect on me because of their servant hearts, Henry Jo VonTungeln and Paul Jackson.”

Early in Hodges’ career, VonTungeln, of El Reno, and his family were baking 5,000 loaves of bread and lots of cinnamon rolls annually for distribution at various ag venues just to promote the industry.

“When offered compensation for at least the ingredients, Henry Jo would always refuse, stating it was his gift back to the vocation that had been so good to him.”

Jackson, of Apache, loved people. He loved to be around people, talk to people and help people.

“The first time you met Paul you had a true friend for life. His interaction with people was amazing,” Hodges said. “I watched him many days bring friends from within his community the 90 or so miles to Oklahoma City for cancer treatments that would, in most cases, take several hours, then drive them home.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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