John Podger, a world traveler and consummate storyteller, died of natural causes in his home in Fox Hill Village, Westwood, Mass., on Dec. 23, 2023. He was 102 years old.
Mr. Podger was born on Nov. 22, 1921, in Hazaribagh, India, where his father, Reginald Owen Podger, owned a mica mine. He was raised, with his sister Molly, primarily in the greater London area by his mother, Elizabeth (Hogan) Podger, a nurse with Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.
At 17 years of age, John began his military training as a gunner for the Royal Army Artillery in Lincoln, England. At age 18, he joined the Corps of Royal Engineers where he served in India, Burma and Malaysia. His primary responsibility during World War II was to lead a Corp of Engineers tasked to build roads and airstrips along the extremely remote Arakan Coast of Burma. The airstrips served as supply mid-stations. The supplying of troops by air in Burma was instrumental in the defeat of Japan in the Burma and the Pacific region.
After the war, Mr. Podger trained as a civil engineer in London. He met his wife, Irene (Sagan) Podger during a post-war trip to Switzerland.
John was working for the Severn River Board in Malvern, England, and the couple married and lived there for several years. Due to the hardships of post-war Britain, they moved to the United States and eventually settled in Boston, where he worked for decades as a civil engineer with the consulting firm of Metcalf & Eddy. He traveled widely, living in Calcutta with his family for three years while working on a project for the World Health Organization, and overseeing projects in Egypt, Sudan, across Europe, and throughout the United States.
John enjoyed varied interests including photography, history, current events and chocolate. He loved sailing and purchased a small boat to sail on Lake Waban on the Wellesley College campus. John believed in civic duty and served for many terms as a
member of several elected (Advisory Board, Public Works) and appointed town boards in Wellesley.
After the death of his wife in 2005, Mr. Podger moved into Fox Hill Village in 2007 and was involved in many of its activities and organizations.
John is survived by his four daughters, Susan Mills of Carlisle, Mass., Jennifer Holmberg of Norwood, Mass., Nancy Podger of Longmont, Colo., and Pamela Podger of Stonington, Conn. He is also survived by two sons-in-law, William Mills III and John
Cramer; daughter-in-law Mia Mills, grandsons William Mills IV, Jack Cramer, Luke Cramer, granddaughters Katie Mills and Irena Podger, and great grandson, William Mills V.
A private tea celebration of his life will be held at Fox Hill Village for his many friends and family to share their recollections.
In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy can be made in John Podger’s memory as a donation to Fox Hill Village,10 Longwood Drive, Westwood MA attention Felix Rosenwasser, in memory of John Podger.
Let the Wellesley community know of your remembrances at email@example.com