MEXICO — Police Lt. Roy Hodsdon described his last shift this week as the worst of his career when he responded to a medical call and found his oldest brother dead Wednesday.
Donald Hodsdon, 46, of Mexico had died unexpectedly at his Mexico Avenue house.
"It was the hardest thing I've ever dealt with," Roy Hodsdon said Friday. He was waiting for his uncle to arrive at the airport in Manchester, N.H., and then to return home to Roxbury.
Donald Hodsdon's funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at Meader & Son Funeral Home at 3 Franklin St. in Rumford. Visitation will be held after 1 p.m.
Roy Hodsdon said Donald's sudden death has been very difficult to handle for the Hodsdon families, relatives and friends.
"Everyone's like in a fog," he said, because he'd been talking with his oldest brother hours before he died.
"This was very unexpected. I mean he had health issues and surgeries in 2012, but not at any point did anyone think he would take his last breath this soon."
The family learned that Donald Hodsdon, a Mexico firefighter of nine years, died after his arteries restricted the air flow to his brain, Roy Hodsdon said.
"His doctor and our families were shocked because all the tests were coming back fine" after Donald Hodsdon grew ill on Monday, he said.
"We are very grateful to know the how, but we don't know the why," Roy Hodsdon said. "He was only 46 years old. In retrospect, looking back, this area has lost a great community member."
Donald Hodsdon was born in Rumford, June 8, 1966, the eldest of four sons of Mexico natives Roscoe and Lorrie (Jones) Hodsdon.
Roy Hodsdon said his earliest memory of Donald is when Roy was between 2 and 6 years old and the family was living in Alaska where Roscoe was stationed in the Air Force.
"I remember he was always the big brother who kept us out of mischief and always looked out for us," he said of himself and brothers Archie and Ray.
"Donald was probably the most caring, outgoing person of all of us. He was just like my mom. They could strike up a conversation with complete strangers. He made friends with everybody."
Roy said Donald touched the lives of many people "with his generosity and caring and with his smile."
He said Donald, who stood 6 feet, 5 inches tall, was always cheerful and bubbly. He also excelled at baseball, basketball and football and later coached his children and area children in those and floor hockey for the Greater Rumford Community Center in Rumford.
"He was a heck of an athlete," Roy said. "No one wanted to be on the opposite team because they were always chasing after his home runs."
Roy said the family returned to Mexico in 1984 when their dad retired from a 20-year career with the Air Force.
That was the year Donald graduated from Plattsmouth High School in Nebraska and rejoined the family.
Roy said that ever since Donald was a child, he always wanted to be a long-distance truck driver.
"He always had a passion for truck driving," he said. "When I was a kid, we'd see a truck go by us and he'd say, 'I'm going to drive one of those someday.'"
And he did.
Donald graduated from the New Hampshire Trucking Academy and worked more than 20 years for various long-haul trucking companies, including Aulenbach Trucking.
"He was a very good driver," Roy Hodsdon said, crediting Donald with teaching him how to drive and being his mentor.
But by the early 2000s, Donald had burned out of long-haul trucking and decided to help his parents. He took a job delivering oil with C.N. Brown.
"He really loved that job, because he got to go and talk to people," Roy Hodsdon said. "Everyone loved him and called him 'Teddy Bear,' because he was a gentle giant."
On March 9, 2004, Donald Hodsdon was hired as a firefighter with Mexico. Fire Chief Gary Wentzell said he started on the ladder company. Roy said his brother loved the job.
Then Donald Hodsdon suffered a debilitating ankle injury.
"I think that was a big blow," Roy Hodsdon said.
Eventually, he couldn't go on fire calls, joined the department's fire police who direct traffic at calls. Later, he was relegated to the call force, Mexico firefighter Mark Mayo said Friday.
Donald Hodsdon also left C.N. Brown and took a job with a trucking firm driving paper from the Rumford mill to New Hampshire, but that ended when the mill temporarily shut down due to bankruptcy proceedings.
Reflecting back on that medical call to his brother's house, Roy said Med-Care Ambulance crews worked feverishly trying to revive Donald Hodsdon.
"Med-Care was fabulous," he said. "I've never seen so many Med-Care people on a scene. It was nice."
Roy said he also called Mexico fire Chief Wentzell to help at the scene and was stunned when many Mexico firefighters also arrived to help.
"They've been nothing but very supportive," he said. He said he's thankful for the "unbelievable outpouring of support from friends that we're getting daily.
"It's going to take us a long time to get over this," Roy Hodsdon said.