The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

John Hoge, R.I.P.

Posted on | December 16, 2023 | Comments Off on John Hoge, R.I.P.

“The Other Podcast” is on hiatus, and NASA’s space robot program has suffered a major setback, as my podcast co-host John Hoge died Friday morning. Our friend Aaron Walker relayed the news:

I want to take a moment to announce that my best friend, John Hoge (@wjjhoge) has passed on. His son, William Hoge IV, called me this morning to share the terrible news. Earlier today, he was driving as normal when he had a heart attack. What little chance he had of surviving was foreclosed when he struck the side railing on the road. I am told that no other persons were hurt in that accident. I have no doubt that John would be glad to hear that no one else was harmed. A few years ago, his beloved wife, Connie Hoge had also passed on. I don’t think he ever fully got over losing her and I think everyone who knows him would be comforted by the thought that they are together again in heaven. Maybe doing some slow dancing. Maybe just enjoying each other’s company. Will is still working through the details, such as when he will be memorialized. I am sure Will would appreciate any thoughts and prayers for John and everyone who cared for him. And I am sure John would want well-wishers to donate to Connie’s Fund . . . (But you might also save your money possibly to help Will with final expenses.) I know many people online and offline will be mourning him. . . . We lost a good one today, folks.

As longtime readers will know, I first met John because of the Brett Kimberlin saga. In May 2012, when Kimberlin was trying to get Aaron Walker jailed, John immediately rallied to the cause on Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day, and was able to attend several court proceedings in the Kimberlin v. Walker affair to act as a reporter (he got his start in journalism as a radio broadcaster in Nashville in the 1960s). Eventually, the Kimberlin controversy culminated in Hoge, Walker, Ali (Akbar) Alexander and myself being co-defendants in a lawsuit (see “Sue Me Again, You Evil Liar,” August 13, 2014). Although he was an engineer by profession, John was the son of a lawyer, and proved to be quite an industrious pro se litigant, taking the legal offensive against Kimberlin on occasion, while monitoring the proceedings of Kimberlin’s various doomed efforts to appeal his original criminal convictions.

Polymath would be the best one-word description of Hoge’s tremendously versatile intelligence. The scion of a prosperous Tennessee family, John was a proud Vanderbilt University alumnus, and served as an officer in Army intelligence during the Vietnam War. He worked as a recording engineer in Nashville, then was a design engineer for sound equipment companies before landing (pardon the pun) in the aerospace industry, which brought him to Goddard Space Flight Center. When people asked him what he did, he’d give some kind of dry description, but after I understood his most recent endeavor, I told him his answers weren’t cool enough: “No, you design space robots for NASA.” Literally true, and much cooler sounding than “engineering contractor.”

As Aaron remarked, John was devoted to his late wife Connie, and since her death, he had a habit of beginning his anecdotes by saying, “When Connie and I . . .” For example, anytime there was news from California to discuss on the podcast, we’d hear a story about “when Connie and I” lived in California. Did I mention he was a leader in his church? His ancestors included prominent clergyman, among them a Presbyterian pastor named William J. Hoge. John led congregational “shaped note” singing at Frederick Church of Christ. He was a gentleman and a scholar, who was always well-dressed, well-mannered and well-spoken. His engineering skills made him indispensable at NASA, which was why he continued working into his 70s — younger engineers simply couldn’t do what the old guy did, having learned his trade in the slide-rule era.

John loved word-play and puns, and his last blog post was part of his long-running riff on Pinky and the Brain: “Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering? I think so, Brain … but if we switched to Danish, today would be a day ending in –g.” A typical droll Hoge-ism there.

In my first phone conversation with his son Will after John’s death, Will’s immediate thought was to find some way to get the podcast done at its usual time, but I told him to forget about that for now, as I’m sure he’ll have much work to do in making funeral arrangements.

Will should be your in prayers, and as for what else you can do to help, I’m sure contributions to Hoge via Pay Pal would be best.


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