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Gainesville native and former CDC scientist who fought COVID-19 has died at 69
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Gainesville native Thomas Hodge III, immunologist and virologist who worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, died July 31.

A Gainesville native who would become a key fighter in the battle against COVID-19 died July 31 at St. Simons Island..

Dr. Thomas Weston Hodge III, an immunologist and virologist who once served as director of immunogenetics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was 69.

“He was tirelessly devoted to helping people, curing disease and creating new approaches to medicine,” according to his obituary. “Right before his death, he was an integral part of a team bringing new medical technology to South Georgia that saved hundreds of COVID patients' lives.”

“You always knew he was smarter than you,” said longtime Gainesville friend Larry Fuller. “The term I would use is ‘casually brilliant.’ He could explain how the human body works in simple terms … and you’re nodding your head going, ‘I get it now.’”

Hodge’s cause of death wasn’t mentioned in the obituary, but Fuller said he had learned his friend had been hospitalized several weeks ago after a bout of extreme fatigue and was in intensive care. Early last year, Hodge “did a really extensive T cell test and it came back (he and his wife) had had COVID,” Fuller said.

“I texted him when he was in the ICU and asked him about his granddaughter,” Fuller said.

Hodge’s 6-year-old granddaughter died the same day as her grandfather, according to the obituary.

“Despite the overwhelming sadness of our losses, we are comforted that they are at peace together,” the obit says. “Their lives were a blessing and their memories will continue to inspire us and make us smile.”

Hodge also wrote or co-wrote more than 100 publications and spent six years in a National Institutes of Health study group.

“He was a thinker and a doer,” the obit states. “Like many men of medicine and academia, he confronted sobering truths about the limitations of the human body.”

Another Gainesville friend, David Chastain, said Hodge “was not able to discover all the cures, but he did dedicate his life to make our earth a better place for all.”

A celebration of Hodge’s life took place Aug. 7  at St. Simons Presbyterian Church.