On March 26, in sub-freezing weather the day after a snowstorm, more than a dozen volunteers were in Annandale, working outside a family home on a quiet cul-de-sac. Some were standing on the ground, some on ladders. All were installing brand-new donated windows on the home of Melanie Bodrog.
Bodrog’s husband Marty, 54, was killed in the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard shootings last September. The couple originally met in Newport, R.I., where Melanie was serving as a naval nurse and Marty as an instructor at Naval Surface Warfare School. They married, had three daughters and purchased their Annandale home in 2003.
Marty Bodrog was born in Woodbury, N.J., and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1981.
Officially, he served 22 years in the Navy, retiring as a surface warfare officer. But technically, he never really left the service, finding a second, civilian career at the Pentagon, where he oversaw the design and procurement of the amphibious war ships used to ferry U.S. Marines and their supplies around the world.
The recently commissioned USS Sommerset was one of his last projects, according to family friend and neighbor John Rutherford. “The chapel on the Sommerset is named after Marty,” he said.
Rutherford, a deacon at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, describes Bodrog as a gentle giant of a man who always put the needs of others before his own. “He taught Sunday school at the church,” he said. “It was always amazing to see this bear of a man on the floor, playing with 3-year-olds.”
Because he was so outgoing, and always putting others first, some neglected repairs on the Bodrog home eventually became an issue. “Marty was in the process of doing some renovations when this unspeakable tragedy occurred,” Rutherford said.
After the tragedy, Rutherford and some fellow neighbors decided that they would pick up where Marty Bodrog left off, and finish the renovations he had started.
“But then we discovered some pretty serious foundation cracks and mortar damage due to leaking,” he said. “We realized we were going to need a lot more materials and we would need to replace a lot of drywall. We told Home Depot what we were doing and asked if there was any way we could get a discount.”
Rutherford said he contacted Home Depot, and to his great surprise, the Home Depot Foundation donated more than $6,000 worth of materials and dozens of volunteers.
After the foundation issue was repaired, drywall was installed and walls were newly painted, Rutherford said he and others noticed that the home’s windows were in desperate need of replacement, as well as the home’s gutters and siding.
Rich Trimber, the COO of Thompson Creek Windows, just happened to be another neighbor of both Rutherford and the Bodrogs. “All three of our backyards join behind our houses,” Rutherford said.
Trimber said he asked his company if they were interested in donating the needed materials.
“I just told them about Marty and his family and said to them, ‘They need things that we supply,’” he said. “Marty was a great man and Thompson Creek was founded in Annapolis and has a tradition with both the Navy and the Naval Academy, so it all came together.”
Thompson Creek provided 10 windows and 13 volunteers to install them. They also provided 127 feet of new gutters for the home. An affiliated company, Midsouth Building, is donating new siding.
“I am very grateful,” said Melanie Bodrog.
“This is a wonderful way of lifting the burden of the house off of Melanie,” Rutherford said. “I know that if the tables had been turned, Marty would be out there doing the same for any of us. This effort has also brought us all together as neighbors. We have all made new friendships and gotten involved, and been touched by each other’s compassion.”