Friends reflect on the life and legacy of Texas poet laureate James ‘Jim’ Hoggard

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Many in the community are mourning the loss of a mentor and friend.

A man who paved the way for many at Midwestern State University, James Hoggard, passed away this week.

Those closest to him said Jim, as he is affectionately known, was an outstanding individual who will be missed.

“I feel a great sense of loss,” Hoggard’s friend and MSU President Emeritus Jesse Rogers said.

“They just don’t make them like Mr. Hoggard [anymore],” Hoggard’s former student Misti Brock said.

A dear friend, a mentor and a guide, that’s what some are saying they have lost from this recent passing of James ‘Jim’ Hoggard.

A Wichita Falls High School graduate, author, professor, husband, friend are just some titles he carries with him but most of all, an inspiration.

Brock, who is now an American Literature teacher and an advisor at Vernon College said there is a great amount of Hoggard’s influence that has stayed with her and will continue to push her to be the best she can be as an English teacher, a writer, an advocate and a parent.

“He was a light and his passing is difficult for everybody who he touched in anyway,” Brock said.

Rogers said he learned a lot from Hoggard about publication, editing and writing while he was the editor for the Midwestern State University Press.

“Look at the different things that he did in Literature, as a translator, writer of poetry and being able to take that kind of intellectual diversity into the classroom made him a popular teacher,” Rogers said.

Rogers said over the year they both learned from each other despite the difference in their backgrounds, Hoggard of the arts and Roger a man of the sciences.

“For several years Jim and several of the other well-known professors that produced a lot of work shared our promotion tenure review committees and I worked with Jim in that regard and at that time I found out there his ideas of high standards and what should be expected at the university faculty in terms of their teaching and their scholarly production and that certainly shaped my attitude as a university administrator in hiring and being part of the promotion and recognition system at the university,” Rogers said.

Brock said Hoggard had a natural way of encouraging his students to find the answers themselves.

“He had this way of pushing you outside of your comfort zone, he recognized what you were capable of and he wanted you to see that as well and he would take no as an answer,” Brock said.

In addition to his extensive resume, Hoggard was known for his versatility, participating in the very first Hotter’N Hell.

“[He] rode in the Hotter’N Hell, ran marathons, was a really good athlete and yet at the same time very supportive of women,” Hoggard’s former colleague Ysabel De La Rosa said.

“I believe, despite his loss, his legacy is going to go on for generations,” De La Rosa said

Hoggard is survived by his wife Lynn Hoggard, who also taught at MSU.

“I always was humbled, teaching down the hall from Jim Hoggard.  His accomplishments as a writer and teacher, his presence as a colleague, graced our efforts as a department.  I recall, as well, his kindness as a source of information about not just literature, but all things Midwestern.  And his funny Texas stories.  I cannot overlook what a skilled reader he was of his own work, the way he interacted with an audience. My acquaintance with Jim was not as long as that of many other persons at the university, but I always was honored by the manner in which Jim made you feel like a friend.  Typing here, I had a flash of one time, years ago, making a turn off of a local highway and, in the corner of my eye, catching a glimpse of Jim sprinting off in the other direction, I am assuming training for a run.  His stride was unmistakable.”

Dr. Robert Johnson, MSU English Professor/Graduate coordinator

“Jim and I have a common background as preacher’s kids, so I can relate to some of his more “irreverent” tendencies. But there’s no denying that Jim was a man of deep personal faith, the kind of faith that was not afraid to ask the tough questions nor settle for the softball, soundbite answers. Before Covid, when we were worshipping in person more robustly, I could count on seeing Jim and Lynn in their usual place, but I would also feel a bit of pressure because I knew Jim was paying close attention and would see through the “fluff.” He (and lots of folks like him who take their faith seriously) inspired me to dive deep into my own teaching and preaching to be more willing to wrestle with the challenging parts of our faith.”

John Mclarty, First United Methodist Church Pastor

As Jim would say,

“And as we sing now let us pray
that winds that sing God’s power here
might bring God’s holy presence here
The Earth itself: God’s gift to us
The Earth and Wind: God’s voice to us.”

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