Mary Ann Hogan’s family, friends, colleagues and — her favorites — students pay tribute to her work, life and spirit. Here is a selection:
By Colleen Fitzpatrick and Karen Catone, reposted with permission from The Freedom Forum
Mary Ann Hogan, a former writing and career coach for the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, inspired hundreds of scholars with her professional support, personal counsel and countless intangible gifts as she guided them through what for many were their first journalism internships. Along the way, she shaped the careers of some scholars, became lifelong friends with others and left a lasting impression on scores.
“To many, Mary Ann has been a mentor, coach, champion and friend,” Tonya Alanez (Spring 2004), a reporter at the South Florida Sun Sentinel, said. “To me, Mary Ann was a gift and my guide. She made me shine.”
Mariecar Mendoza (Spring 2007), recalling the vital role her CQS mentor had in her growth as a journalist, attributed landing her current job as the senior digital arts and entertainment editor for the San Francisco Chronicle to Mary Ann’s guidance. “There is no way I would’ve gotten here if it wasn’t for her,” Mariecar said.
A veteran journalist, writer, editor, college lecturer and workshop leader, Mary Ann was a coach with the CQS program from 1997 to 2012, mentoring scholars in 33 of the 49 classes the program has seated. She also wrote the former “Ask the Coach” column for the CQS website, dispensing tips and advice in a story format she urged young journalists to master, one in which the writing was focused, succinct and made a connection with readers.
“Mary Ann Hogan was an exceptionally talented journalist and coach preparing young talent for fast-paced newsroom work,” said Félix Gutiérrez, a trustee of the Freedom Forum Institute who first met Mary Ann in California in 1993. She was working as a journalist while her husband Eric Newton and Félix were setting up The Freedom Forum’s former Pacific Coast Center, in Oakland at the time.
“Her optimistic energy, enthusiasm and commitment guided others to do their best so they could be their best,” Félix said.
Sometimes, steering people toward their potential meant nurturing not only their skills but also their intrinsic qualities. Mary Ann had a way of coaxing those to the fore in her mentees.
Said Erika Slife Hostetler, “Mary Ann was pivotal in my early career, and the two lasting gifts she left me are priceless beyond journalism: She introduced to me a sense of wonder for the world around us and a sense of confidence in myself.”
The full-commitment coaching that Mary Ann provided is an essential part of the CQS program, said Karen Catone, then executive director of diversity for the Freedom Forum Institute.
“The success of the Chips Quinn Scholars Program is, and always has been, due to the dedicated journalists who give so unselfishly of themselves to the next generation,” Catone said. “Mary Ann Hogan was no exception. She was a gifted writer and nurturer of talent, and her tireless work with young journalists knew no bounds. She could deftly console the homesick as well as instill confidence in the insecure. Seldom did the mentoring end when the internship did. And for some, the lessons she imparted will last a lifetime.”
Mary Ann’s history with the Freedom Forum Institute and Newseum went back to the mid-1990s, when she became a writer for the Newseum’s original news history exhibit in Arlington, Va., and for the Newseum book “Crusaders, Scoundrels, Journalists.”
Mary Ann never stopped writing. In Florida, she returned to school, earning a master’s degree in creative writing at Florida Atlantic University. She taught freshman English there and at Palm Beach State College for seven years, and saw the publication of some of her work. In California, she became the Mill Valley columnist for the Marin Independent Journal. One column, about the saga of a giant fork, received a finalist award in the writing category from the California News Publishers Association in 2018.
Mary Ann’s story-crafting wisdom resonated with Tonya, as did her style and manner, which Tonya described in ethereal, almost mystical terms: “visceral, abstract and touchy feely” and “spirited, full of light and energy.”
“She did not speak or critique like a news editor,” Tonya said.
Despite Mary Ann’s many contributions as a coach, the relationship between her and the scholars was not one-directional. She readily acknowledged that she, too, gained from the interactions. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the CQS program, in 2016, Mary Ann wrote:
“These last eight or nine years have brought me so many moments of pride I cannot begin to count. I have watched countless scholars grow from quivering intern to competent, even transcendent, professional. I have seen them win Pulitzers. Seen them get married. Watched them start families. Continue rising in their careers.
“I have seen some wisely decide that newspapering wasn’t their true path after all, the kind of decision that bespeaks maturity. I have seen others become editors, cover floods and fires, watched them grounded in far flung airplanes on their way to orientation, Sept. 11, 2001. I have seen a couple through grave illness, personal tragedy and unspeakable loss.
“I have watched them make differences in big ways and small. I love them like my children. All of them have touched me someplace deep.”
Excerpts from the scores of tributes sent by friends, students, journalists
“A rock and such a calming spirit.”
“I hear her voice whisper in my ear whenever I’m struggling while writing a story. If I can’t easily explain something as if in conversation, she’d always ask if I understood the issue. She taught me that a reliance on jargon in writing usually comes from lack of understanding. And now, I share what I know with others. Her voice lives on in each of us.”
“Remembering Mary Ann from years ago, just starting out at the Trib. How she shined.”
“A soul as frank, endearing and beautiful as her smile, and a mind to match. Her generous, loving heart will be with everyone it touched forever. Mary Ann and you welcomed us into your cozy Florida home (that corner of bleak Boca Raton turned California) and gave us these memories I can now fall back on, to soften the pain of loss with the warmth of those days together.”
“I went to the MFA program at FAU with Mary Ann. Aside from her being an insanely talented writer, she was an encouraging friend, kindhearted colleague, and inspiring figure in my life. I had moved to Florida from Hawaii and found myself pretty lost and lonely at times. I distinctly remember Mary Ann telling me never to give up on my dreams. She was a joy to be around. I wish to send my warmest Aloha and deepest condolences to all who knew her. While there is an emptiness without her with us, I’m quite positive that there’s also another star in the sky lately, one far brighter than the rest. And that is Mary Ann. She was always brighter than the rest of us. She always will be. Rest in eternal peace, my old friend.”
Belinda Lawrence Turner
“Mary Ann Hogan was a special person… full of talent and passion and love for her friends and family.”
“Mary Ann was such a wonderful person. Her spirit will live on in the lives of so many people whose lives she enriched. Beautiful memories are not a substitute, but they help as time goes by. I’m sure you and your sons have countless memories you cherish.”
“Mary Ann – friend, mentor, and mom in arms – I so love her I always will. My poems are written on the scent of the lemon trees. They are written just for her.”
“I have thought often over the years of her warmth, smile and soft heart, and her wisdom as a great writer. She was like an extra aunt to anyone – a welcoming and lovely woman, a bright light in every room.”
“A joyous and talented being.”
Carlos Avila Gonzalez
“A wonderful teacher. She touched many lives.”
Carol Ann Riordan
“Mary Ann was one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever met with a generous heart. She was vibrant and funny and kind.”
“A credit to our profession.”
“She found humor everywhere, saying, Oh, that’s so funny, sometimes in the most serious tone and with the most serious face. I remember coming out of the ice-cold Seigenthaler Center into the humid Nashville night, feeling in our silence the lives of the homeless people we passed; pulling down a magnolia blossom to take in the scent; our phone talks between Nashville visits; her courage. I thank her for our time together, for enriching my life.”
“… an incredible teacher and friend. She came alongside me at the Sun Sentinel to complete a project that was completely over my head, yet she held me up throughout. I will be forever grateful for that and all she imparted in the process. She taught me to trust my voice, although I’m failing now. Her light, her laughter, her soul will be missed by all who knew her. Thank you for all of the hours you loaned her to us – journalists, friends and fellow dog lovers.”
“Mary Ann is the reason I became a journalist. Despite my horrific spelling, she believed in my ability to tell a story. ” (Sends a photo of her daughter, Marianne, named after Mary Ann).
Debbie Peters Botts
“After reading this beautiful history of Mary Ann (Molly to many of us), I feel privileged to have known her briefly in high school. She touched so many lives and will live forever in our hearts.”
“Such a dear person and a very fine editor. I encountered her many times in my career after leaving the Oakland Tribune, and she was always funny and caring and smiling, with just the right suggestion for how to consider the written word.”
“MA is so special to me. My kayaking buddy – how many problems did we solve paddling around the Everglades while looking for gators? Those days brought such joy that I cannot see or use a kayak without thinking of her. Having her back in California was a gift. Hanging out with her at your house, in her beloved Marin, was a reminder of how special she is. I can hear her laugh, see that radiant smile and that fills my heart.”
“Mary Ann was such a sharing soul … I cherish all the many meals and friendship she so easily offered. Her creativity and gift of seeing the best in others will be missed.”
“I remember how dazzling I found her words about writing… what a legacy she leaves.”
“She was a great mentor… but she’s an inspiration. She was my Yoda.”
“Her laugh was contagious, her love was warm, her heart was open, and her life touched everyone that knew her. Our love for dogs was a connection that I will always cherish.”
“I will never forget her entering the classroom at San Francisco State University in the summer of 1991 … It was reporting class. Nine weeks of hard work, directed by this human whirlwind. Mary Ann was full of expertise, wit and fun. Lots of fun. I (we!) loved her class, and her teachings were always in the top of my toolbox during my years as a foreign correspondent.”
Erika Slife Hostetler
“I was one of the many that Mary Ann mentored, but her impact on me was life changing. I am so blessed to have been in her orbit, even if it was for a short time. Mary Ann was pivotal in my early career, and the two lasting gifts she left me are priceless beyond journalism: she introduced to me the wonder for the world around us and a confidence in myself. Though at times in my life people have tried to steal these gifts from me, thanks to Mary Ann’s gentle guidance, I’ve never let them get me down. Thank you, Mary Ann, for all the countless of us you’ve so selflessly mentored. Your spirit will live on. That I know. Until we meet again.”
“MA was my mentor, writing partner, and friend. She was a sort of creative Peter Pan … without the magic of pixie dust, her brilliant mind allowed her to keep playing – with words, people, ideas, the ideas of spirituality and eternity. She had the ability to stay a girl in many ways. I was with her in Orange, California and had the honor of helping her lead a writing workshop among the nuns. In those days, I wrote a lot about how my heart was an orange, sections and layers. She gave me Oranges by John McPhee. If I was an orange, she said, she was a hurricane, sometimes chaotic, sometimes vulnerable, but with a voluminous inner calm that was even a part of her anxious, unsettled days.
“Today, I am sad. I loved Mary Ann. I mourn the loss of a dear friend whose voice encouraged and brought out the best in so many of us. A friend who wrote a beautiful poem comparing me and my Frans to two ducks who appeared sometimes in her swimming pool. A friend who nicknamed my daughter Poem. She loved us well.”
“I will miss her twinkling eyes, beautiful smile and great sense of humor. She was always so willing and happy to care for her niece when I was working because I know how much she loved her, and I loved sharing her with Mary Ann. I’m happy we got to spend a little time together on Mt. Tam and I am confident that we will see each other again in another life.”
“I had the honor of working with Mary Ann when she wrote a story about our art float last year, and it was a true pleasure to collaborate with her. She was a talented writer and a kind, gentle soul. The world needs more people like her, and I hope some of her students will rise to inspire us as she did.”
“We were so lucky to have Mary Ann in our lives at the Sun Sentinel because she truly did make us better. She not only taught us how to be more active journalists, she taught us how to be more caring individuals.”
“Mary Ann was such a free and loving spirit that she infected everyone who was around her. You always felt better about herself after talking with her. I’m so glad Ken and I were blessed with her friendship.”
“Mary Ann Hogan was the most musical person I ever knew. She could sing harmony to anything. She often would say, The tenor part goes like this, and then just sing it a capella. In the 1970s when she worked at the Oakland Tribune, we played in a casual group together we called The Usual Suspects: Pauline Scholten, Lynn Ludlow, Courtenay Peddle (RIP), me, and Mary Ann. We worked out some complicated Manhattan Transfer songs, and wandered around through the worlds of folk, Irish and country music. I really enjoyed the pieces she wrote for the IJ in recent years. I thought it was so fitting that she was back home and writing about the place she loved.”
“It is hard to remain in a place of sadness because Mary Ann was so full of life! It was an amazing thing to witness how much Mary Ann Hogan loved each of her three men! Everyone who knew her is filled with gratitude for all the ways she loved us. She had enormous capacity. She created community wherever she went. We Nixons are so grateful she drew us in. I still remember the July day in 1994 when she came up the street with James and William to meet us. She had arrived in Annandale the week before we did. We were fast friends and she was always there for us. She helped rear Will, Sam … and me too for that matter. She was always encouraging, everyone’s friend – always smiling! Her exuberance for life, teaching, writing, whatever her focus, had no limits! She brought kindness to troubled hearts. She was deep on so many levels. She helped pull me out of hard times on several occasions. She had heart! She had soul! And she was so much fun!”
“I am struggling to find words for her, which seems quite selfish, as she had been so generous with me in that regard. I’ve been reading pages of letters and stories that she had sent me since she left Florida; I think she would be surprised at their heft. I have stories about her childhood in Mill Valley, about the hay-filled barn and the dairy farm, her mother’s wooden bowl, her husband’s painted birds, the fish in her backyard pond. She wrote about concerts and dinners with her dear sons, the Styrofoam pillars in her Florida house, her singular A minus at FAU, the mango tree she planted as a sapling that came to shade a quarter of her back yard. I have her voice right here with me, telling me what she thinks, how she feels, what she remembers and what she hopes for in words full of grace and heart and humor. She wrote like she lived, and I am holding on tight to her words, as I wish I could hold on to her. She was as wonderful and true a friend as I have ever had, and I thank her for all she has given me.”
“I always remember our first meeting with joy. And the kindness she showed …”
“Mary Ann was such a beautiful, gifted, courageous woman who inspired everyone whose life she touched. I feel honored to have known her.”
“A generous editor and writer. And it was at her kitchen table that she pushed me toward coaching other writers. Just hanging out with her a little made me better.”
“I only met her once, at a workshop we did together. Had heard about her for a long time, and then finally got to sit in that room and understand those sparks of warmth and magic.”
“My godmom was one of a kind. Her spirit, energy, interest and excitement for the world was unmatched. I remember visiting in DC, spending thanksgiving with her family in Florida when I was in college, and her donating to the suicide prevention organization I worked with in college. I’m so grateful that we lived so close to each other the past few years. I love her and her spirit.”
“Her soul touched so many and made us and this world a better place.”
“An amazing spirit, and I’m grateful I got to work with her, however briefly.”
“A spirited, deeply humane person, a gift to all who knew her.”
Karen Kirsch Page
“An incredibly beautiful life, full of gifts for others through her talent and big heart.”
“I thank her for teaching me to think before I write, and for sharing the value in words. I thank her for not letting me settle for good enough. I am a better writer and person for having worked with her, and for knowing her.”
“I thank her for embracing me and welcoming me to the neighborhood with open arms! I thank her for being such a shining light when my light was dim! … for introducing me to her favorite French bakery in Bon Air; I will eat my almond croissants and always think of her … I thank her for bringing laughter to my soul … for showing me her fishpond … for her help and words of encouragement to my daughter I thank her for being HER! I love her and will always cherish our friendship and the little time we had; I wish we had more of it! Much love to my dear friend!”
“Mary Ann was an outstanding writer and a delightful person.”
“Mary Ann made such a positive impact on so many in the industry – especially us Chipsters! I was reading the appreciations on the Freedom Forum site, and I was struck by the impact she had on so many of us. I can remember bookmarking and regularly consulting her tips on writing on the old Chips Quinn website.”
“I’m remembering all of our great conversations, as well as her guidance and support in the newsroom and in life after it. Her wisdom and her warm glow are always with me. “
Linda Davis Newgard
“I have few words … but [Mary Ann] was the best … kind, willing to help out in an instant, brilliant, funny. She will forever be alive in my heart, in the laughs, tears, and joys we shared together. She carried me through the darkest times of my life. I have been blessed to have known her beautiful spirit, and she will live on in me forever … what a word artist and inspiring teacher she was to hundreds. I love her. She was the most radiant person I know – and the truest friend, and I know many of her friends feel the same.
“Everything I know about being a journalist I learned from Mary Ann. She was such a good reporter and writer, and her advice was always on the mark. Mary Ann made my time at the Trib one of the best times of my life. What a great resource – a beacon no matter what.”
The distance separated us and life got in the way, but [Mary Ann] always had a special place in my heart. She was the kind of person and friend who I could just pick up where we left off. I treasure our coffee chats and heart to heart conversations. She was there for me always with a smile and a comforting way about her. Although we didn’t speak often or see each other as much as we wanted, every time we got together we’d say we have to do this more often. I learned a lot from her and she used to tell me she learned a lot from me.
“We were on opposite ends on many topics but we always met in the middle, to get to understand each other’s points of view. We accepted and respected.”
Mallary Tenore Tarpley
“I remember Mary Ann well from my days in the Chips Quinn program. Her smile and laughter were contagious, as was her love for the written word.”
“Mary Ann gave me the gift of her coaching at Knight Foundation. There are only few people in life that teach us something that makes a positive difference every single day. She’s one of them. I will always be grateful to her.”
“I want her to know how much I love her. She came into my life as a bright light and an expansive healing force. Her encouragement as a teacher, coach, and friend opened my heart to possibility. She helped guide me through a forest, using words to forge my path. I know she knew this, and I want to tell her again. … She is one of the great teachers in my life’s journey. We truly never know how long we physically have with each other. … I will write for her and in honor of her, continuing her voice and impression, her lessons. … Her soul is forever with mine. I love her so. Forever. I want her to please listen for my words. I will be talking with her.”
Maren Bingham Showkeir
“Mary Ann was a good human, and I feel privileged to have known her.”
“MA was such a vital part of my development as a young journalist. I remember fearing edits by my bosses when I was still an intern or new reporter that I would email her versions of my stories and ask for her edits ﬁrst before turning in drafts to my editors. I remember calling her to talk through story development, sourcing and how to craft a narrative. She helped me ﬁnd my voice! Then, when it came to making career decisions — whether to take a fellowship or whether to take on a new beat or job — she was always one of the ﬁrst people I would reach out to for advice. She critiqued my very ﬁrst cover letter, she helped me feel comfortable boasting my work in that cover leer and in my resume … then helped me edit my resume down when I got further along in my career … a career that she very much shaped.
“I remember being so happy she was my mentor because I knew I wanted to go into features/entertainment journalism, but when I told her I wanted to be an arts writer straight out of college she told me, Well, you still need the meat and potatoes. I took that to heart and honed my craft as a news reporter, which really did help me earn the respect of my peers and bosses when it came to the point in my career when I decided I wanted to focus more on A&E — or what people often called the ﬂuﬀ in the biz. I earned their respect, showed that entertainment journalism is still newsy and am now the senior arts & entertainment at the San Francisco Chronicle. I know for a fact there is no way I would’ve gotten here if it wasn’t for her. … I feel so blessed to have had her as my writing coach and mentor.”
“Such a smart and funny woman to have as a colleague.”
“Mary Ann was always a favorite discussion leader at (the American Press Institute), and I’m glad I got to work with her.”
“I learned so much from Mary Ann when she was a coach writer at the Sun Sentinel. I will always remember her because she touched my heart. A great human being and teacher. She was such a great teacher and touched so many of us. She made me a better writer.”
“She was Mary Ann, but in my heart she is Molly. She had been in my life from the time of my birth, with love and warmth in her arms as she wrapped them around me. Bright light gleamed from her smile, she radiated her warmth to those around her. I love her, as I feel her love for me. She was a shining star in my life, and always will be. Much love always and forever!”
“A free spirit, a deep appreciation of nature and natural beauty, and a love of writing. Mary Ann laughed easily and drew people to her. She Mary Ann hadn’t formally been involved in the (Florida Sun Sentinel) newsroom for more than a decade, I’d guess, but MY GOD her influence and guidance is still felt. You won a Pulitzer!! We won a Pulitzer!!! She, rightly, should be SO proud. We did that, in part, because we care about the craft of writing, and we used the lessons we’ve learned from Mary Ann and other great writers who’ve blazed through here. I’ve kept in my WRITING folder some of her lessons.
“She held a session at one of our Writers Workshops titled – How a few minutes of right thought and a shot of caffeine can turn a regular old story into a gem. We will reuse that because it is so key – thinking before writing, not while writing or after writing!! She told us – One of her favorite newspaper stories she told for years, a colleague was sitting next to her in the newsroom writing about the city’s sewage system and at one point put her head down on her desk and kind of whimpered, ‘It’s so hard to make sewage sing!’ … It’s hard – especially on deadline, when we now have to do SO much else – it can be done – daily, routinely.”
“When I knew Mary Ann in Oakland, I had some reason to visit her at her home, and she paused our business to listen to an aria on her stereo – while tears rolled down her cheeks. She also introduced my then-husband and me to the joys of swimming in an outdoor community pool in Oakland at dawn during the winter, with the reward of coffee and muffins afterward. Great memories.”
“Mary Ann was so welcoming and loving. It was wonderful to know her.”
“Not being good with words… we humbly write this note to let her know she is treasured and loved, and we feel blessed for knowing her. Not only was she beautiful inside and out, she was strong, talented and full of grace… a real inspiration for us all. Bumping into her on the Circle (her neighborhood) was always a highlight, as our conversations were guaranteed to be interesting … We also grew to look forward to her Marin IJ column, full of compassion, wit and humor – was irreplaceable.
“As she battled her illness we became even more in awe with her courage, and the way she continued to think of others with her kindness and generosity… a model for us all. She carved herself on our hearts, and will always be a part of our lives and the Circle.”
“Mary Ann was my favorite English teacher and very encouraging. Her recommendation later got me accepted into Law School. GOD Bless her. Heaven has truly gained an Angel.”
“Mary Ann was indeed a light in the Trib Features Dept.”
“The world has lost a wonderful journalist, teacher, singer, wife and mother. I have
many happy memories of Mary Ann and the hours we spent in our 20s making music together. It was a joy to sing with her. She had an incredible ear, and was the best natural harmony singer I have ever known. I will never forget how pure, sweet, and magical her soprano sounded in the moonlight on the porch of the West Point Inn, ringing down the slopes of Mt. Tam … where we played and sang into the wee hours, and watched the distant San Francisco lights glimmer through the fog. On Sunday mornings … we’d sit on the front porch singing gospel songs for hours. The folks hiking the mountain loved it.
“There were also noisy parties at her house in Mill Valley, with everyone talking at once and cigarette smoke thick in the air. I recall going with her on weekend trips to the Strawberry Bluegrass Festival where folks played music all night long and our brakes started to fail coming down the Old Priest Grade on the way home. Another highlight was The Usual Suspects first paid gig ($50 for the whole band). We played a wedding for one of my co-workers at a Hayward rec center and sang Sunrise, Sunset at the bride’s request. I still get a Christmas card from that lady every year, and the marriage is still going strong.
“Through our years of friendship runs the music, all kinds of music. Rock from the 50s and 60s (You Send Me, Twisten the Night Away, Kansas City, Hello Mary Lou, Blue Bayou, Bring it on Home, Bye-Bye Love, Save the Last Dance for Me), Country and Western (Silver Threads and Golden Needles, Walkin After Midnight, Hey Good Looking, Tennessee Waltz, Jambalaya, Blue Kentucky Girl, Sweet Dreams, One of These Days, I Can Help It If I’m Still in Love With You, So Lonesome I Could Cry, Two More Bottles of Wine), Folk Music (Big Rock Candy Mountain, Red River Valley, Home on the Range, If You Ain’t Got the Dough Ray Me, This Land is Your Land), Bluegrass (anything by Bill Monroe), Labor Songs (I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night, We Shall Not Be Moved, The Union Maid), Gospel Songs (I’ll Fly Away, Operator Give me Jesus On the Line, Just a Closer Walk With Thee, Working on a Building), Pop and Standards (Java Jive, Sentimental Journey, Till There Was You), Irish (Whiskey in the Jar, The Sally Garden, Do You Love an Apple), and more. We loved so many kinds of music that we could never settle on a genre, so we sang them all.”
Paulita, Calvin and Tyler Chang
“Mary Ann (she will always be Molly to me) will be missed but remembered in our hearts forever. She was a beautiful person.”
“I have such wonderful memories of working with Mary Ann. She touched the lives and careers of so many journalists.”
“She was and always will be such an amazing force in all of our lives. I will never forget her friendship and the incredible impression she made on me. I was always in awe of her creative spirit and her sense of humor. We were able to communicate on a wavelength I had never been on before. I was overjoyed when we re-connected in Boca a few years back and only wish now that we had found a way to see more of each other. But I remember how happy I was to hear you were all going back to Marin which meant so much to her. She was a true California girl.”
“What a sweetheart of a woman. A wild, wacky, creative spirit with that mane of curly red hair and a presence slightly larger than life. You will be missed, girl!”
“I think of Mary Ann often and thank God for her today. Hot air balloons and ice cream and singing.”
“Besides her writing and other talents and skills, Mary Ann was a fabulous singer. She was a member of a trio of Oakland Tribune staffers with myself and Kevin Fagan, the Haunted Shorts. Despite her excellent voice, she suffered stage fright. But when she sang, it was heavenly. She was one of the two or three best writers I saw in 38 years in newspaper journalism. It was a special time in those days at the Tribune, and it’s apparent from her accomplishments that she continued to grow thereafter.”
“I loved Mary Ann’s stories about her beloved home town. She has so much heart and passion in finding unique characters and telling their stories. The world is a bit less colorful with Mary Ann’s absence.”
Sally Farhat Kassab
Sally’s tribute, via email to Mary Ann’s husband, Eric Newton:
“I met wonderful Mary Ann in Sept. 1999, when I was a fall 1999 Chips Quinn Scholar. I was a fresh-out-of-college journalism graduate.
“She joined us in San Francisco for a few days.
“My fondest memory of her was when she assigned us to write two pages about ourselves. We were to NOT write about where we were born, where we went to school, and so on but to “really tell who we are.”
“Mary Ann looked at me after reading mine and said, “You are never going to have trouble finding a job.”
“I was absolutely devastated when I learned of her passing. I always meant to contact her and tell her how much her comment, and her teachings, meant to me all these years. I also wanted her to know that I pursued journalism and later, all kinds of writing, as a career!
“I knew how talented she was, and how sought-after she was as a writing teacher and that she truly meant what she said. Those few words from Mary Ann meant the world to me as a 22-year-old. And they still mean the world to me now.
“As you know, so much of writing is faith. How much faith do I have in myself, that someone will want to read the words I put on this page? That someone will want to read the story I have to share?
“When I learned that she has a book coming out — and lucky me, it’s a memoir including her essays which she was a master at — I started crying and told my husband that it was time to write you.
“I wanted her husband and her children to know, as they already do, that yet another person in the world was truly changed by Mary Ann. She made me a better writer, and I am so grateful that she entered the room that day, and all the days she was with us. Her presence, her joy for her work, and her energy were contagious.
“Thank you for getting her memoir published! I can’t wait to read it. I sure do miss her.”
“I had such a good time with her! She was a gift to the world, and to all who knew her. She always had such an amazing ability to savor the joy of any particular moment – a dinner party, a girlfriends’ lunch, a ramble with Joe, a ferry trip – she sprinkled magic onto all of it. Everything glittered around her, even the hardest, most challenging moments of all. She noticed the sun breaking from behind the clouds, the latest flowers blooming in the garden, the ridiculous humor of just about everything.
“I am indebted to Mary Ann, because she made me a better editor. She taught me to pay attention to the writer’s vision … to listen with imagination and heart. I became a senior editor at the Tribune when I was in my late twenties, managing a features department of about 40 people – almost all of whom were older. I knew how to make a good news story – my way – but my way was linear and logical and thorough with facts. Mary Ann’s way was different. When I would ask Mary Ann how her story was coming, expecting a lead and a nut graf, instead she would arrive at my desk trailing a ten-foot tail of dot-matrix printer paper filled with anecdotes and descriptions and questions and wonderful leaps of imagination. At first, I was flummoxed, but we learned together how to collaborate and talk through a story – and I learned not to make my writers fit my mold. The stories she wrote were beautiful, and many went viral, as we would now call it, reprinted in newspapers all over the country.
“She helped me become not only a better editor, but also a better writer, and the friendship we forged became life-long.”
“Mary Ann was a delightful presence in the Oakland Tribune newsroom.”
Shannon Pixley Sheppard
Have been remembering Molly from our MV childhood days. Loved where her bright eyes and inquisitive spirit took her!”
“Mary Ann, or ‘MA Hogan’ as she went by on campus, was a colleague of mine at Florida Atlantic University. She was a source of support for close friends and acquaintances alike, and just a vibrant individual in the department.”
“The Hogans were good friends with my family when I was growing up in Mill Valley. Our fathers worked together at the Chronicle, and … even authored a book together. I have fond memories of Christmas Eves spent at the Hogans, often listening to Mary Ann – Molly as we knew her then – sing and play guitar with her brother Dennis. She brought light to so many lives.”
“[Mary Ann] not only taught many how to write, but by her example leaves a legacy for how to live abundantly.”
Tameka Robinson Bell
“I will forever be grateful for that summer 20 years ago when Mary Ann brought me – as a young intern – into her home. Mary Ann treated me like family, taught me to make salad dressing and showed me, by example, that one could chart a path of their own design. The lessons of that summer 1999 will stay with me always.”
“[Mary Ann] gave so much to myself and so many other aspiring journalists. I will always have fond memories of MA as a writing coach and mentor.”
“Mary Ann was an inspiration.”
“To many, Mary Ann has been a mentor, coach, champion and friend. To me, Mary Ann was a gift and my guide. She made me shine. Her style was visceral, abstract and touchy feely. She spoke of stories as nautilus shells, circular from beginning to end and end to beginning. Her manner was spirited, full of light and energy. She taught me to connect the dots rather than line them up.
“But most important of all, Mary Ann impressed upon me that the greatest impact a writer can have upon a reader is to strike a chord, an emotional chord – be it a smile, a laugh, a curse, or goosebumps. That is a story well told. Best compliment a reader ever paid me, the compliment that told me I had matured, grown and relaxed as a writer was when that reader said, “I write with heart.” Ma showed me how to do that.
“She introduced me to the concept of “the engine of the story.” She invigorated my writing. Taught me to bring color, life and energy to stories through the power of language. She did not speak or critique like a news editor. No, not Mary Ann. An example: ‘The use of repetition and thematic eddies, to sort of imitate what went on at the funeral, was inspired, effective, gifted.’
This was Mary Ann. Inspired, effective, gifted.”
Wendy L. Miller
“A wonderful writer, a wonderful person, and an editor’s dream collaborator.”