WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)— Midwestern State University professor and author, James Hoggard died at the age of 79 on Tuesday, February 23.
Hoggard was known as a man of creativity and many hats, and he inspired so many in the Wichita Falls community.
He was born on June 21, 1941 in Wichita Falls to Helen and Earl Hoggard.
Being a Wichita Falls native, Hoggard was heavily involved in learning and it showed in his day to day life.
He graduated from Old High in 1959, where he studied four years of Latin. He also discovered a love for the arts from his art teacher.
His love for nature led him to have experiences where he ran trap lines in the wilderness that eventually became the Tanglewood subdivision, getting sprayed by skunks, chased by rattlesnakes, and being spooked by a Hereford cow whose shadowy white face rose and fell like a ghost dancing before him in the gloom.
Hoggard enjoyed fishing and waterskiing at Lake Kickapoo and Kemp.
Being a man of many hats, Hoggard was a high school athlete, where he played center for the Wichita Falls Coyotes when the varsity team won the state championship in 1958. He also became an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow, earning two palms for ten more merit badges.
In addition to his love for learning, Hoggard was also a dedicated fitness enthusiast. He was a bike rider in the first Hotter N’ Hell Hundred event in 1981, rode for 27 years, and participated in nine marathons in Dallas and Fort Worth.
Hoggard furthered his studies at Southern Methodist University where he was a student from 1959 to 1963 and majored in English where his learning of economics, history, and foreign languages continued to evolve over time.
He knew he was destined to become a writer and continued his education as a graduate student in English at the University of Kansas from 1963 to 1965.
Hoggard returned to Wichita Falls in the summer of 1965, and worked full-time as a lifeguard at the Wichita Falls Country Club, then went on to teach at Midwestern State University where he taught creative poetry, composition, American literature, several honor classes, and more to the next generation of students for 47 years.
While passing on knowledge to others through his teachings and publishing many books throughout the years, Hoggard received multiple awards.
In 1977, he was named ‘Hardin Professor’, the highest award given to a faculty member for excellence in teaching, professional activity, and service. He was named the Perkins-Prothro Distinguished Professor of English, and in the year 2000, he was named Poet Laureate of Texas along with many more awards and honors.
Hoggard’s gift of writing didn’t stop in the classroom, he published more than 300 poems, 30 short stories, three novels, one non-fiction book, two collections of short stories and 60 essays.
His craft went beyond winning awards, many of his pieces appeared in journals and well-known publications such as Texas Highways, The Texas Observer, the Dallas Morning News, The Times Herald, and Texas Monthly.
His very last book was ‘Where Three Winds Meet’, which includes art and photography from the community, local artists, sculptors, and photographers. The book won first place in the Press Women of Texas contest in 2016 for best book design.
Before that, Texas Christian University published ‘James Hoggard: New and Selected Poems’ as part of their series on Texas poet honorees.
With everything Hoggard accomplished in his life, one thing he never forgot about was his home, and that’s Wichita Falls, Texas.
“I had many advantages growing up,” Jim said. “But from early on, part of me felt like a wanderer, given that we moved so often. I chose Wichita Falls as my home.”
Hoggard leaves behind his wife Lynn, his children Jordan and Bryn, and his grandsons, Nickolas and Jack. He was proceeded in death by his parents, Earl and Helen,
A memorial service is pending, but memorials can be sent to First United Methodist Church, Midwestern State University, and Hospice of Wichita Falls.