Dora Virginia Lusk was born on her father’s farm located in Mascot, Tennessee on March 25, 1909. She was the daughter of Robert Morris Lusk and Mary Lassie Compton Lusk, and was one of their fifteen children. Dora spent much of her childhood working in the fields on the family farm. The family survived by uniting and working together on the farm. Chores included plowing ground, harvesting crops, canning and preserving food grown on the farm, as well as taking care of livestock.
Dora considered riding a wagon into town (Knoxville) to sell the fresh produce they had grown to be a treat. She was sometimes allowed to go with her father to take the produce from their farm and sell it on Gay Street near Central Avenue. Her parents did their best to feed and clothe the children. She recalled her Father wrapping feed sacks around their feet in order for them to walk to school in the snow because they did not have suitable shoes. Dora received her first “doll” from her Grandfather Compton on Christmas when she was six or seven years old. She attended Clear Springs School located in Mascot, Tennessee. Her favorite subject was Reading. She finished the sixth grade. She then quit school in order to help more on the farm.
Dora married Thomas Raymond Hodge, Sr. on January 17, 1929. Dora was 19 years old and Thomas was 35 years old. Dora’s father especially liked Thomas. They were married while sitting in a car in Corryton, Tennessee. The minister was also a doctor and had patients inside his home; therefore, they decided to be wed while sitting in the car to avoid the rain that day. They then spent a couple nights in Gatlinburg for their honeymoon. Thomas worked for Knox County and operated a road grader that graded the then gravel Lee Highway from Knoxville to Blaine. The family resided on Circle Road off Lee Highway. Thomas had five children by his deceased wife prior to his marriage with Dora. The children’s ages ranged from twenty months to twelve years old. Their names were Lily Kate, Dixie Lee, Bruce Henry, Nellie Rae, and Victor Mott. In mid December 1930, Thomas and Dora began to have children together. Thomas Raymond, Jr. was born December 15, 1930. Barbara Jean was born March 14, 1938, and Beverly Forrest was born September 25, 1944.
On May 12, 1948, Thomas passed away. He had suffered a stroke prior to his death. Dora took care of him diligently until he passed away. Now widowed at the age of 39, she pressed on and continued to raise their children. She worked hard around the home and also worked various public jobs throughout her life. Among those were National Shirt Factory, Breezy Wynns, Campbell Manufacturing, and Alpha Industry. She retired from public work at age 71.
Dora moved in with her daughter, Beverly Forrest (Hodge) Ramsey, and son-in-law, Paul, in the early 1970’s where she lived on their Grainger County farm the remainder of her life. She enjoyed the farm life, raising chickens, gardening, harvesting crops, preserving foods, and helping out as much as she could. She was able to visit family in Hawaii in 1991. She had hip replacement surgery in her late 80’s, but continued to strive to help out when and where needed.
Dora was a wonderful Christian woman and lived her life to the fullest while always appreciating family and friends. Her legacy included 229 total children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. There were several sets of five generations.