Xavier Magazine

Reflections of Father Hoff

Friends and alumni of Xavier University paid tribute to University chancellor and former president James E. Hoff, S.J., in many ways following his death on July 23. One person placed a vase of flowers at the foot of his statue on campus. The following are letters to the University:

“As a 30 year employee of Xavier, recently retired, I will remember most about Fr. Hoff that whenever I encountered him he said, ‘Hi Dave’ and always had time for a few minutes of pleasant conversation.” —Dave Ralston

“I am a graduate of the class of 2003 and I would not have even chosen Xavier if it were not for Father Hoff. He is an inspiration to us all, and he will be missed by not only the Xavier community but everyone that knew him. Thank you Father Hoff for giving me a chance at Xavier. You are the best.” —Michael Garcia

“Father Hoff will be truly missed. He welcomed us so warmly when we came for Amy’s first visit to Xavier University. We felt we had known him for many years in a short time. God bless Fr. Hoff.” —Cal and Carol Waugh

“What a tremendous loss for the Xavier family. I have many fond memories of this great man. I rememeber when Fr. Hoff would come to our Indianapolis golf outings before I was even a student at XU. He was such an ambassador for the University, and he made me want to be a part of that. As a student at Xavier, I remember his incredible gift of making everyone feel special, important and valued. I enjoyed the work I was able to do with Fr. Hoff through the SGA and always enjoyed the first class manner in which he accomplished anything. As a Xavier alum, it has always been an honor and a privilege to see Fr. Hoff at Xavier weddings, basketball games and alumni events. He will be missed. May he rest in peace.” —Christopher J. Branson, Class of 1996

“Fr. Hoff dramatically changed Xavier into the world-class university it is today. He singlehandedly quadrupled the endowment in a very short tenure. But far more importantly, any student—like myself—that ever knew him, will never forget the genuine love he had for all of Xavier’s students and faculty.” —Sara (Hayes) Pressler

“Fr. Hoff was a very warm and caring person who dreamed great dreams for Xavier. I was a graduate student here in the mid-1990’s, and I was amazed and pleased by all the changes that were occuring on campus and in the academic life. His vision to prepare students was certainly realized in me. It is largely due to the influence of this great man that I desired to teach here, and propagate the same values he taught. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten and always honored.” —Roy Cohen

“It was Father Hoff who enabled me to graduate from Xavier, and helped me to attend Yale for my graduate degree. He once told me that I can consider him as “my father in the USA”—I am from Tanzania. Like thousands others, I mourn the loss of “my father in the USA,” my confidant, a friend etc. He will always be my guardian angel. May God rest his soul in peace.” —Jo-Angeline Kalambo

“My relationship with Father Hoff began when he married my husband, former basketball player Dwayne Wilson, and me in September 1995. Father then baptized three of our four children, attended funtions at our house, was on campus when I was employed with XU and was always available to myself and Dwayne when we had a hard time dealing with what life gave us. In April 2004 I was told that I had three tumors—two on my liver—and they were unsure of the outcome until after surgery. I underwent surgery in mid-March. Shortly thereafter I learned of Father’s health problems and called his office and left a message that I understood and if he wanted to talk to me that I was at home recovering from liver surgery. He did call me two days later. He began the conversation by just checking on my children and asking how the ‘big guy’ was. He then said, ‘So, how are you doing Tracey?’ My reply was, ‘I’m doing very well, Father, but I hear we have something in common.’ ‘Well Tracey, I think my situation might be a bit worse.’ You see my tumors were benign. I then said, ‘Yes, Father, but I can’t help but think that I could be you.’ His response touches me to this day: ‘But isn’t it good that it ist you, Tracey? Now, where’s the “big guy?” That was it. That statement alone shows who he was and how he felt about the people he cared for. I thank God for bringing him into my life. He will always be remembered as a beautiful person with a beautiful soul. Thank you for everything Father Hoff.” —Tracey Wilson

“Having known Father Hoff at Creighton, we were thrilled that he was coming to be president of Xavier. His friendship was cherished by our entire family as was his wise counsel on many occasions. He was truly a man for others. —Marlene Creighton, Class of 1963, and Ed Creighton, Xavier Class of 1959 and Creighton Dental Class of 1962

“Such a sad day for the Xavier family. I vividly remember the day of Father Hoff’s innaguration at Music Hall. Little did any of us realize how Xavier would change under his leadership. How fortunate we were to have him with us. A man amoung us all. —Bill Charles

“I had the honor of having dinner with Fr. Hoff during honors weekend 2003, about a month before I graduated. He was kind enough to sit at my family’s table and just have a great conversation about anything and everything. That’s just one example of how great a person Fr. Hoff was. I returned to Cincinnati for the 2004 commencement to visit friends that were graduating. At the ceremony, the University surprised Fr. Hoff and everyone else by presenting the St. Francis Xavier Medal to him. It was very hard to watch because we all knew that his passing would be coming soon. Everyone was on their feet at graduation, giving him two well-deserved, teary standing ovations. What an amazing man Fr. Hoff was. May he rest in peace, and may his spirit live on.” —R. Alex Fajardo

“It is astounding the impact that Fr. Hoff had in shaping Xavier University that I know and love.” —Matt Graham

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