Serving, Supporting, and Living Large

The Lodge family history has long been interwoven with Sewanee history. Richard (“Dick”) Lodge, C’71, and Gina Lodge recently made sure that the tradition will continue through their generous support and faithful leadership. The couple pledged a gift of $50,000 over five years to support the move and rebuilding of the seminary as part of Stronger Truer Sewanee—The Campaign for the University of the South.

Dick Lodge says, “I think the decision to move the School of Theology back to the middle of campus is an important decision. I hope it will serve as an ever-constant reminder of the unique nature of Sewanee as both an undergraduate university and theological school in the Episcopal tradition. The visual presence of seminarians is a reminder that theological education is a significant component of the mission of the University of the South.”

He says the Lodges are confident of their investment in the University of the South. “The University continues to have dynamic, forward-looking leadership, both at the College and the seminary. The objectives of the campaign were carefully crafted and are important for the continued strength of both. The University of the South is worthy of our financial investment—‘our’ being all those associated with the University and its graduates.”

Dick Lodge was born into a School of Theology family. His father and grandfather were both alumni of the College. When he was born, his parents lived in the middle unit of a triplex in the Woodlands. His parents went to Emerald-Hodgson Hospital, then located on top of the hill on Florida Avenue, for his delivery.

“Sewanee has always been a part of my life. The first memory I have of being in church was in St. Luke’s Chapel. What I remember most vividly though is taking a wind-up toy train locomotive to Sunday chapel, and having it taken away from me when I let it run down the aisle during the service.”

Lodge’s father, the Rev. John Lodge, C’49, T’52, grew up in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, part of the Lodge family of cast-iron skillet fame. Returning from WWII, he enrolled in the University of the South for his undergraduate degree, then went on to enroll in the seminary.

Dick Lodge entered the University of the South in 1967 as an English major. “The decision to attend college in Sewanee was not a difficult one. The decision to stay involved has not been a difficult decision, either—particularly with the seminary under the leadership of Bishop Alexander.”

Gina Lodge was born and raised as an Episcopalian, so she had always heard of Sewanee. It was not until she met her future husband, however, that she became connected with the University and the town in which it resides. Gina is from Annapolis, Maryland, and met Dick in Washington, D.C., in 1976. She was working for Senator Pat Moynihan from New York and he was working for Jim Sasser from Tennessee. In 1978 they married and moved to Tennessee.

Dick and Gina Lodge are members of Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, Tennessee, and are also involved with St. Augustine’s Chapel. Dick Lodge is an attorney at the firm Bass, Berry & Sims. He has provided legal services for Thistle Farms and Magdalene House since their foundation by the Rev. Becca Stevens, C’85. Lodge has served on the Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents of the University of the South. He began serving on the Beecken Center Advisory Board when it was created three years ago.

Gina Lodge is C.E.O. and owner of FSI, a Nashville-based supply chain operation, but is perhaps more widely known for her civic service. In the 1990s she helped lead improvements in public education as a member of Metro Nashville’s Equity and Excellence Committee. She also helped lead a grassroots organization called Parents for Public Education. From 1993 to 1997, she served as Tennessee Director for Kids Voting U.S.A. to involve children early in civic engagement. She was commissioner of human services for the state of Tennessee under Governor Phil Bredesen. She has served on the boards of Metro Nashville’s Public Library Board, Nashville public radio (WPLN), and the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Tennessee Valley Authority.

In Sewanee, the Lodges are also known for their faithful support of the Bairnwick Women’s Center. As Gina says, “The Women’s Center is doing so much important work. It means a lot to me to support them.”

Anne Chenoweth, C’81, major gifts officer at the School of Theology, asked the Lodges for their first major contribution 15 years ago, during the renovation of All Saints’ Chapel. Chenoweth says, “The Lodges are some of the most faithful donors I have encountered. They are the kind of people who give and give and then give again to the causes they believe in. Knowing them, and the extended Lodge family, has been a gift in itself.”

The Lodge’s children also graduated from Sewanee: Sarah Lodge Tally, C’03, and Richard Lodge, C’07. Gina says, “What I loved best about our children attending Sewanee, that doesn’t happen many places, is the connection between generations. Students in their 20s are just as happy to spend time with their long-tenured faculty as they do with their classmates. To see our children live in and love this community was a tremendous experience.”