Mr. Albert Joseph "A.J." Bodker

  • Born: October 16, 1929
  • Died: October 22, 2021
  • Location: Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Harry McKneely & Son Funeral Home

PO Box 2035
2000 N Morrison Blvd
Hammond, LA 70404
Tel. (985) 345-5801

Tribute & Message From The Family

Albert Joseph Bodker
October 16, 1929 - October 22, 2021.
Albert Joseph "A.J." Bodker passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by family, on October 22, 2021, at the age of 92.
A true Ponchatoula treasure, A.J. wore many hats: husband, father, pawpaw, teacher, principal, Presbyterian, Rotarian, advisor, and friend. He was beloved in each of these roles and he excelled at them. A.J. was married to his late wife, Colleen, for sixty-nine wonderful years and they had four beautiful children: Peggy, David, Mellie and Carol.
Mr. Bodker was born and raised in Ponchatoula, and his blood ran green and white for the Ponchatoula Greenwave. He graduated from Ponchatoula High School himself, and after obtaining a Bachelor's degree in education from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Master's degree in education from Louisiana State University, he returned to his alma mater to teach and serve as principal. Mr. Bodker is one of the most esteemed principals in the history of PHS, serving in this role during one of the most heated times in our nation's history - integration- and ushering in this new era with grace. He was on the planning committee and helped implement the construction of the new high school which houses PHS students today. He was adored by students and teachers alike, and his commitment and professionalism motivated those under his tutelage to rise to the occasion and succeed. Even after retiring as principal after a 25-year term, A.J. could never stray far from his precious PHS, and he enjoyed working the scoreboard at Friday night football games in the swamp.
Mr. Bodker's work as a civil servant extended beyond working tirelessly for his students and their education. A.J. was a member of the Ponchatoula chapter of Rotary, where he held the title of eldest member and previously served as President. He truly lived by the moto "service above self" as Rotary exemplifies daily. He loved serving gumbo and beer at the Rotary booth every Strawberry Festival weekend throughout his lifetime. Not only did he participate in volunteer work through Rotary, A.J. was a member of the Tangipahoa Parish library board, an honoree of the Boy Scouts of America, and he served as both Chairman and Board member of the North Oaks Hospital Board of Commissioners and later North Oaks Hospital Foundation Board. He loved working in his community to help Ponchatoula grow and thrive.
When Mr. Bodker was not volunteering or working in his many roles in education, he enjoyed spending time at his family camp on the Tangipahoa River that he built himself in 1971, Camp Big Time. A.J. loved running trot lines for catfish or taking his grandchildren and great grandchildren for rides in his party barge. Always the teacher, he regaled his children and grands with stories on the clearing of the cypress trees along the Tangipahoa River and a history of the camps along its passage. He would allow children and grandkids to drive the party barge if they could pass a written test and master the boat tying knots to his precise specification- which was no small feat. Mr. Bodker had quite the sweet tooth, and he would treat his loved ones to his handcrafted milkshakes, perfected from his years working as a soda jerk in Harris drug store which stood in the building now housing Paul's Café. His family and friends will miss both his lessons and his treats.
Mr. Bodker is preceded in death by his parents, Ruby and Joe Bodker, and his wife, Colleen Howes Bodker. He is survived by his sister, Dorothy Bodker Furr, and his children: Peggy Bruges (Tony), David Bodker (Diane), Mellie Bodker, and Carol Wiggins (John). He is survived by his grandchildren: Jay Wiggins (Aimee), Lee Bruges (Megan), Amy Bruges, Megan Kelley (Dean), and Becky Bodker (Blake). He is also survived by three great grandchildren: Brock, Elizabeth, and Hudson.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Mr. Bodker will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Ponchatoula on Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 11:30 am with visitation beginning at 9:00 am.
In lieu of flowers, his family requests donations be made to his beloved First Presbyterian Church of Ponchatoula. To show A.J.'s love and devotion to Ponchatoula High School, the family will be wearing Ponchatoula green to the memorial and asks attendees to do so if they desire.
Arrangements are entrusted to Harry McKneely and Son Funeral Home and Crematory.

An on-line guest book is available at


Condolence & Memory Journal

I am honored and proud to have had Mr. Bodker as both my principal and first boss. I worked for him as a custodian from 1971-1974 while I attended Ponchatoula High. I am proud to claim him as my first of four Christian Mentors in my life. In him I saw strength, courage, and work ethic. For ever missed but never forgotten. Love Jim Smith, Graduated 1974.

Posted by Jimmie Smith - Brandon, MS - Student   November 29, 2021

Mr. Bodker was my principal at Ponchatoula High School. I was a Business, Mathematic, & Social Studies teacher at Ponchatoula High School for 14 years. He was the second principal I worked for; by far, the best I encountered during my 39 years working in 3 parishes. He left his imprint,of striving for excellence, on everyone who worked for him. Mr. Bodker will be sorely missed.

Posted by Nae Vernon - Baket, LA - Coworker   November 14, 2021

I'm sorry to hear of Mr AJ's passing. My thoughts & prayers are with you.

Posted by Ann Thibodeaux - Hammond, LA - Friend   October 27, 2021

Prayers for the family and so many close friends. A.J. loved doing whatever he could to help in the community. I am proud to know him from First Presbyterian Church in Ponchatoula.

Posted by alan juderjahn - LA - Friend   October 27, 2021

My prayers are with the family at this time.

Posted by Percy Donald - Hammond, LA   October 26, 2021

A. J. was such a special person! He loved his family, friends and church. We will miss him so much.

Posted by Ann Poche - Ponchatoula, LA - Friend   October 26, 2021

I am so sorry to hear of Mr. A.J.'s passing. He was a great and kind person who truly understood his students and he always greeted you with his wonderful smile. Your entire family is in my thoughts.

Posted by Caryn (Larrieu) Schoeffler - PONCHATOULA, LA - Student   October 25, 2021

I met Mr. AJ while working in the Education department at Southeastern. I am so sorry to hear of his passing - he was an extraordinary man who did so much for our communities.

Posted by Pam Bentivegna - Hammond, LA   October 25, 2021

One of my favorite memories (along with his teaching eighth-grade Science, being in congregation when I've filled in at First Presbyterian, and later years table-sharing at Rotary) has to do with his knowledge of car mechanics.
I was trying out a vehicle and valued his opinion. He not only came over after Rotary meeting, looked under the hood, but CRAWLED UNDER the car to check thoroughly!
And that wasn't many years ago!

Posted by Kathryn Martin - Ponchatoula, LA - Friend   October 25, 2021

Lots of good memories of Pop (Bert) and Mr A.J. growing up. Those two friends always working on some projects in town or down the river.

He and Pop always trying to one up each other on what they caught on the trot line or in the lake.

I still have an old log splitter they built together from an ATT trencher. One supplied the trencher, one the Onan motor and a third the piston.

What a great life and an amazing man.

Posted by Chris Disher - Ponchatoula, LA - Friend   October 25, 2021

Mr. A.J. was a good man. He was a positive influence and role model in my life, as he was for so many others over so many years.

Posted by Tim Heitman - Baton Rouge, LA   October 25, 2021

One of the most respected men alive . Jerry and I always looked up to A.J. Bodker . Praying for his entire family .

Posted by Jerry and Bonnie Methvin - Houston, TX - Student   October 24, 2021

One of the most respected men alive . Jerry and I always looked up to coach A.J. Bodker . Praying for his entire family .

Posted by Jerry and Bonnie Methvin - Houston, TX - Student   October 24, 2021

Mr Bodker, I thank God for his service as a principal during my time at PHS, he was the
greatest. 1971-74 (MVP in basketball)

Posted by Leon (BB) Brown - Racine, WI - Student   October 24, 2021

We students of AJ truly loved him as our teacher and principal. I knew him first as my teacher in elementary school and then as our principal in high school. He never forgot us throughout the years.

Posted by Judy Shaffer-Meades - Pumpkin Center, LA - Student   October 24, 2021

We students of AJ truly loved him as our teacher and principal. I knew him first as my teacher in elementary school and then as our principal in high school. He never forgot us throughout the years.

Posted by Judy Shaffer-Meades - Pumpkin Center, LA - Student   October 24, 2021

We students of AJ truly loved him as our teacher and principal. I knew him first as my teacher in elementary school and then as our principal in high school. He never forgot us throughout the years.

Posted by Judy Shaffer-Meades - Pumpkin Center, LA   October 24, 2021

I regularly sat with A.J. at Ponchatoula Rotary meetings. He and I were "Birthday Buddies" and enjoyed the singing of the birthday song. A.J. was a favorite of many members, particularly the Ladies who often joined him at lunch. I will miss him and his friendly, wise and professional ways. You are now with your lovely wife, Colleen. who often joined you at Rotary activities.

God Bless you and your family. You will be long remembered as a friend and mentor to many.

Posted by Garnett Bedenbaugh - Hammond, LA - Friend   October 24, 2021

My deepest sympathy at the loss of such a lovely man. My family and I have known him from high school days and I had the pleasure of seeing him again at many of the St. Tammany Parish School evaluations. He never forgot a face and always had a nice word for everyone. I will always remember his endearing smiles and many words of comfort and praise.
Bobbie Abel

Posted by Bobbie Newman Abel - Covington, LA - Friend   October 24, 2021

I extend my sincere condolences to Mr. A. J.'s family. He was an fine a man as I have known in my lifetime. His many services to the Ponchatoula community will long endure in the hearts of the thousands of people he touched through the years. God bless you all during this difficult tmie.

Posted by Jim Perrin - Ponchatoula, LA - Friend   October 24, 2021

Peggy, David, Mellie and Carol,

Your dad was the best. We couldn't have asked for better next door neighbors down the river. He and your Mom were always so helpful and thoughtful. I always looked forward to going to the camp and spending time with them. Mr. AJ just had a way with us kids that put us at ease and felt respected right away. And he was funny too. I'll always remember Ed the time he and your mom came and invited Susan and I on a boat ride to look for a tree that had a bolt of lightning stuck in it. He will be missed.

Posted by Laura Lee Bauerle Jaworski - Spotsylvania, VA - Family Friend   October 24, 2021

Sending prayers and condolences

Posted by Roslind Batiste - Ponchatoula, LA - Student   October 23, 2021

What a sweet wonderful person love and prayers God bless Mark and Stacy Badeau Watts

Posted by Mark Watts    October 23, 2021

Oh so sorry for your loss and the loss of a very interesting gentleman to be a round.It was always interesting to listen to Mr. AJ talk about the history of Ponchatoula. We will cherish the memories. Our prayers are with you.

Posted by Gordon Anderson - Hammond   October 23, 2021

Please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful man with the community that he loved. He will certainly be missed! Praying for all of you at this difficult time.

Posted by Evelyn Kluka Meier - Gulf Breeze, FL - Student   October 23, 2021

I have known AJ my whole life. He was a great human being.

Posted by Patrick Lanier - Hammond, LA - Friend   October 23, 2021

Rest in peace and we will get our lunch when I get there!ut3Hk

Posted by Reverend Mark Square - Hammond, LA - Student   October 23, 2021

So very sorry for your loss. Mr. A. J. Was a truly remarkable loving man. He always greeted people with a smile and words of kindness. He will be dearly missed. My prayers and thoughts go out to the family.

Posted by Cathy Tricou - Ponchatoula, LA - Friend   October 23, 2021

I have such fond memories of Mr. AJ. He was one of whom I consider a true "Ponchatoulian"!!! He lived a long, loving life! Praying for your family during this time!

Posted by Alyson Lapuma - Tickfaw, LA   October 22, 2021

What an icon of the community! He was loved by so many. I remember his love and support of the PHS girls basketball team during the years I played. He was always our number 1 fan! He will be greatly missed. Prayers for all of the family.

Posted by Brenda (Cutrer) Cassels - Cairo, GA - Student   October 22, 2021

Will surely be missed. I worked at TPSS for 36 years in Human Resources- Great man!

Posted by Regens Anzalone - Infependence, LA - Friend   October 22, 2021

So saddened by the loss of a wonderful man, educator and genuine servant of his Lord and to his community. His loss is great and he will be missed. It was a pleasure to have known and worked for him.

Posted by Patricia Flint - Ponchatoula, LA - Friend   October 22, 2021

We Loved our high school princiabl

Posted by Bruce and Janet K. Mitchell - Hammond, LA - Student   October 22, 2021

Mr AJ Bodker was my principle through high school, thought alot of him great man

Posted by Rocky Rakocy - Ponchatoula, LA - Friend   October 22, 2021

Ponchatoula will miss this great man, teacher/Principal, all out great man. Always welcome everyone with a smile.
I always enjoyed seeing and talking with Mr. A J.

Posted by Doyle Hoover - Ponchatoula, LA - Friend   October 22, 2021

Sorry to hear of Mr A.J.passing, I was care taker for Ms Adele. He and his family were so sweet and kind to me.

Posted by Denise Galat - Hammond, LA - Family Friend   October 22, 2021

I am soooo sorry for your loss!!! He was an extraordinary man!!! I loved him as my Principal and then friend as I grew older also!!! He always had a kind word for me when I'd see him!!! He will be greatly missed!!! Y'all have my deepest condolences and prayers!!! May God comfort y'all!!!

Posted by Kara Chaney - Ponchatoula, LA - Friend   October 22, 2021

A great man, ex principal and friend. He will be sadly missed

Posted by Pat Wallace - Ponchatoula, LA - Student   October 22, 2021

Oh so sorry for your loss and the loss of a true gentleman who Was very interesting and fun to be around. He will certainly be missed by everyoneAnd left us with memories that we will always cherish. Our prayers are with you.

Posted by Gordon Anderson - Hammond   October 22, 2021