Walter Augustus Bodge was born November 23, 1899 on the family farm in Bethany Township, Osborne County, Kansas. He was the son of William and Anna (Hunker) Bodge. Walter attended both Portis, Kansas Grade and High Schools. During World War I he served as a private in Company A, 15th Battalion of the Kansas State Guard, stationed at Portis. At age 24 Walter married Cecelia Greiner on November 23, 1923, and the couple settled down to the simple life of a Kansas farm couple. In the course of things they raised two daughters, Doris and Marilyn.
His tombstone may be simple, but Walter Bodge’s contributions to Kansas farmers is immense. Walter was one of those farmers who, in his spare time – usually in winter – worked on things that could make his life easier. He patented a number of inventions, including one of the first and most popular milo guards on the market (it eventually sold millions); a portable disc sharpener that sold well in the United States and overseas and for which his descendants still hold the American patent; a steel kit for round feed bunks; a chain-a-parts for steel chains; a Sickle Server; and the Golden Rod wire stretcher, still the preferred tool among many farmers not only across the Sunflower State but the entire nation as well.
“The Goldenrod Fence Wire Stretcher-Splicer is truly an example of ingenuity because of its simple design. The product can mend either a loose strand of fence or broken section of fence. When you find a spot of loose barbed wire, place each end of the loose wire in each end on the fence stretcher-splicer and pull the handle together and lock into place to hold tension. Next, use any short piece of wire to splice from one end of the loose wire to the other. Finally, insert fence plier handles in the wire loop between the existing wire and the splice wire and twist until tight. You can then release the handle and remove the stretcher-splicer.” – Cooperative Farming News, April 2012, www.alafarmnews.com.
After a long and fulfilling life Walter Bodge died on February 8, 1975. He lies buried in the Fairview Cemetery located just southwest of Portis, Kansas.