Buffalo News Logo.jpg

By: Barbara O'Brien

It says something about a guy that the most interesting thing about him might not be that he is leaving $6 million to Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo.

But that's Andrew Dodges of South Buffalo and the Old First Ward.

He saved his fellow soldiers when they were attacked in France during World War II, and later was injured and spent three months in the hospital.

He was the construction manager on the St. Lawrence Seaway, and lead engineer when the water stopped flowing over Niagara Falls for erosion control measures.

He was married to the sister of Gene McCarthy. (Yes, THAT Gene McCarthy, of the eponymous tavern fame.)

Screenshot 2023-09-18 120707.jpg

Andrew Dodges, 97, wears a new veterans pin commemorating his military service during a reception honoring him at Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo in Cheektowaga, May 24, 2023. Dodges will be donating $6 million to the hospice center. Libby March

He built his own house. And he's 97 years old.

"I never smoked, never," he said, explaining his longevity.

Dodges was introduced to the public at Hospice last month at a reception thanking him for his legacy and for his service. 

"You are going to impact us for generations to come, for many, many, many years to come," said Elizabeth Siderakis, executive vice president of the Hospice Foundation. "We are going to be able to provide education, programs, meeting spaces, simulation lab." 

His gift of approximately $6 million will fund the creation of the Andrew J. and Mary Ann Dodges Center, as well as support hospice care for others in the community. He also contributed to the construction of the Hospice inpatient unit in 1995. 

Dodges was impressed with the Hospice care his late wife, the former Mary Ann McCarthy, received when she was battling colon cancer. She died in 1989. 

"I miss her," Dodges said. "I never remarried."

But he met the second love of his life, Linda Snyder, 17 years ago when they were on the same tour in Italy. The group was in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, viewing the tomb of Pope John Paul II, where photographs were prohibited.
 "Well, smarty pants over here decided to take a picture. And the guards came and started chasing him," Snyder said. "And I told him he held our bus up over two hours because we couldn't leave without having everybody accounted for."

That was in September. In December, he called Snyder and asked her out for New Year's Eve. They have been close ever since then, and Dodges is living with Snyder.

Dodges is now the one receiving long-term hospice care at home.

He said he read in the newspaper about the good work of the organization.

"I thought it would be nice to have some type of legacy," he said, adding about the decision, "It was rather sudden."

Snyder called the Hospice Foundation on his behalf in April and asked how much it would cost to build a building. The arrangements were made within a month.  

Dodges, who never had children, said he grew his money through "education and investments." He invested in stocks and real estate, and owned 11 buildings over his lifetime.

His mantra was "only buy quality," according to Snyder.

Dodges was a squad leader in the 411th Infantry Regiment, 103rd Infantry Division, Company E. One day in a small French village, Dodges and other GIs were sleeping in a foxhole when mortars started flying overhead from a nearby shed. He crawled to the shed and threw in grenades to stop the mortars, and was awarded the Bronze Star.

Some time later, in December 1944, he was hit by shrapnel in his left arm, shoulder and neck. He spent three months in the hospital, and learned some of the doctors and nurses there were from Buffalo General Hospital. And Gen. Anthony McAuliffe – the general who replied "NUTS" to a German message demanding surrender – visited him and other wounded soldiers in the hospital. 

"I was lucky to come out alive. I'm grateful, no regrets," he said.

After the war, Dodges attended the University of Alabama on the GI Bill. He returned to Buffalo and worked as an engineer first with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and then for 40 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He worked on the construction of the Mount Morris dam near Letchworth State Park and the construction of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. 

Dodges also owned Elk Liquor Store.

And while he has some issues with his war injuries, he keeps most of that inside.

"He never complains, whether it's a rainy day or a cold winter's day, he's hurting," Snyder said. "He tells me, but he doesn't complain."