Professor Emeritus James Hoggard dies

Jim Hoggard's contributions to MSU Texas many

Professor Emeritus James Hoggard dies

Professor Emeritus James Hoggard died Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Hoggard retired in 2013 as the Perkins-Prothro Distinguished Professor of English after teaching at MSU since 1966. In 2015, former Midwestern State University president Jesse Rogers renamed and dedicated Bea Wood 226 as the James Hoggard Seminar Room. Also in honor of his contributions to MSU Texas, Wichita Falls, and the broader literary community, the James Hoggard Reading Series was instituted to bring award-winning writers and poets from across the nation to campus.

Below is his obituary from

James Martin Hoggard died on February 23, 2021. He was born on June 21, 1941, to Reverend Earl and Mrs. Helen Hoggard in Wichita Falls, Texas. After serving in other locations as a Methodist minister, Rev. Hoggard and his family returned to Wichita Falls in 1951, where he became senior pastor of Floral Heights United Methodist Church. From that day on, Jim Hoggard made Wichita Falls his forever home town.

Jim graduated from Wichita Falls High School ("Old High"), where he excelled in his studies thanks to a love of learning for its own sake. Inspired by his Latin teacher Nell Sammons, Jim studied four years of Latin. He also credited his art history teacher Joyce Samuels for introducing him to modern art, its depths and expressiveness. Much of his later writing would reflect a unique, sometimes visceral, vision of art, nature, and the harsh beauty and dramatic weather of the North Texas landscape. A lifelong athlete, Jim played center for the Wichita Falls Coyotes when the high school varsity team won the state championship in 1958. He became an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow.

Time outside of school was devoted to outdoor adventures, running trap lines in the wilderness that became the Tanglewood subdivision, getting sprayed by skunks, chased by rattlesnakes, and spooked by a white-faced cow in the Texas twilight, among other adventures. Lakes Kemp and Kickapoo were cherished fishing and swimming spots. Lifelong friend and fellow Wichitan Frank Bracken shared many of those experiences with Jim, including the high school football championship. Frank remembers Jim as "brilliant, kind, and funny." A man dedicated to fitness and athleticism his entire life, Jim participated in the very first Hotter ´n Hell Hundred ride in 1981 and rode for 27 years. He ran nine marathons and enjoyed hiking.

Jim graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1963. While there, his interest in writing grew, as did his interest in foreign languages, including French and German. Spanish would figure in his later studies and work. He earned his MA in English from the University of Kansas in 1965. He returned to Wichita Falls in the summer of 1965 and began writing for the Wichita Falls Record News. Dr. Joseph Satin, English Department Chair at Midwestern State University noticed and admired Jim's writing and offered him a teaching position for the spring of 1966. Thus began a dynamic teaching career, spanning 48 years.

With Satin's encouragement, Jim decided to make a career of writing and teaching, putting equal emphasis on each. Although he began the academic tradition of earning a Ph.D., usually necessary for college teaching, Jim made a daring decision to "fire" his PhD advisers. Not that he didn't admire his mentors; his drive to write his own work was simply too strong to allow a major diversion. This choice sent his career down the "road less traveled" and created an important legacy in Southwestern literature in our country. Although Jim's specialty was teaching creative poetry and prose, he also taught basic rhetoric and composition, American

literature, and graduate seminars. He had a special reverence and understanding for the Greek tragedies. The seminar room in which he taught these works was named after him in 2015. He also developed three signature courses for the university. In 1977, he was named Hardin Professor, the highest award given to an MSU faculty member for sustained excellence in teaching, professional activity, and service. He was named McMurtry Distinguished Professor of Excellence in 1997, and in 2001 was named the Perkins-Prothro Distinguished Professor of English.

His awards and honors were numerous. Texas began the new millennium with James Hoggard as Texas Poet Laureate in 2000. Other honors and award highlights were a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Grant; the Hart Crane and Alice Crane Williams Memorial Fund Award for Poetry; publication in Best American Short Stories; the PEN Texas Poetry Award; Souerette Diehl Fraser Translation Award from the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters; and the Lon Tinkle Award for Excellence Sustained Throughout a Career from the Texas Institute of Letters. Jim was elected to become a member of the Texas Institute of Letters in 1979. He later served as its president, secretary and treasurer in various years and was designated a Fellow of the organization.

Jim headed the Midwestern State University Press for 29 years. He served as project manager and editor in the publication of 22 books related to American literature, performing arts, regional history, and natural science. Under his leadership, the press published a wide range of topics, from author John Updike to oil wildcatter Bob Gunn, and Charley Farris, the first African-American female judge in Texas. Other subjects included: ballet greats Irina and Frank Pal; Leland Snow, founder of Air Tractor; important studies on ice age mammals of North and Northwest Texas; and the history of Midwestern State University.

Former President of MSU Jesse Rogers wrote: "Quickly upon his arrival, Jim established a reputation as a popular and respected teacher."

Students who took Jim Hoggard's classes weren't likely to forget the experience. Artist and teacher Willetta Crowe remembers: "When Professor Hoggard compared a mesquite tree to a rose, he opened my eyes to seeing beauty in the ordinary. He taught me to appreciate the skill involved in crafting poetry, combining the exact words to invoke sound, imagery and meaning. He shared his own poetry: the process, frustration, and joy. He ignited a spark that I've shared with my junior high and high school students as a librarian and teacher. That spark continues to burn in my heart and mind."

Outside the classroom, Jim produced a prodigious body of work that included poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, feature writing, columns, and reviews. He published more than 300 poems in various anthologies and journals, more than 30 short stories, three novels, one non-fiction book, two collections of short stories, and approximately 60 essays and nonfiction works. His nonfiction pieces appeared in literary journals, as well as high-circulation, consumer publications, such as Texas Highways, The Texas Observer, the Dallas Morning News, The Times Herald, and Texas Monthly. He published 23 books, including 11 collections of poetry during his lifetime, the last being Where Three Winds Meet, which included art and photography from fellow creators in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma. Prior to that, Texas Christian University published New and Selected Poems by James Hoggard as part of their series on Texas poets laureate. Jim contributed numerous reviews on books by other authors to many publications. He also translated approximately 200 poems and completed six book translations from the Spanish, the most recent being Ashes in Love by Oscar Hahn. Jim was invited to read, teach, and lecture at numerous events and several institutions, including universities abroad in Mexico, France, Spain, England, and Iraq. He had seven plays produced during his career.

As he steadily contributed his writing to many sources, he also contributed to his community of Wichita Falls. Jim served on the boards of the Wichita Falls Symphony and the Wesley Foundation, and donated his time to present programs and in-service training sessions at various churches, the Downtown Rotary Club, local high schools, and the Texas State Poetry Society.

And, last but not least, he wrote the lyrics to 11 anthems set to music by Kiyo Watanabe and performed by the Wichita Falls First United Methodist Church choir. He was a dedicated member and constant presence at First United Methodist Church in Wichita Falls for many years. As Jim wrote in one of his anthems based on Psalm 26:8, the church was also his home: "This sanctuary where we sing is home to joy and home to grief, a home for blessed speech, a home where hymns and prayers rise, and earth is one with sky."

Hoggard's work was marked not only by originality and a unique voice, but also by an undying commitment to keep working and giving. Even as he came to terms with changes wrought by Parkinson's in later life, "Jim never lost the determination to adjust to new circumstances and meet new challenges," noted Jesse Rogers. "In all he did in life, he stands as a magnificent testament to the human capacity to persevere."

James Hoggard is survived by his wife Lynn Taylor Hoggard; brother Charles Hoggard and wife Connie; son Jordan Hoggard; daughter Bryn Talkington and grandsons Nickolas and Jack. He was preceded in death by parents Earl and Helen Hoggard.

Jim's family would like to give special thanks to Hospice, First United Methodist Church, and Tamara Graham and the staff at The Pines. Funeral arrangements are with Hampton Vaughn / Crestview.

A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Memorials may be sent to First United Methodist Church, Midwestern State University, and Hospice of Wichita Falls.