My Tribute to James Edward Hoffman, Washington Irving, and My English 4382 Great Authors Class

Thursday, December 8, 2022

President of the Washington Irving Society

When I was an emotional wreck in December 2022, I included this message on the last page of a final exam, but then deleted it. I decided my students were dealing with enough–final exams and other mentally, emotionally, and spiritually challenging circumstances of their own. However, now that some time has passed, I’d like to share what I had to say. The direct audience, then, for this blog is my English 4382 Great Authors/Washington Irving class at Baylor University in Fall 2022. I hope the blog speaks to someone out there.

As a tribute to my dad and to Washington Irving, I want to pass some information along to you, my English 4382 Washington Irving class. If it gets rather long, I may also post a version as a Washington Irving Society page blog. If my rough draft writing rambles on and on, please don’t feel obligated to read all of this. My work today involves getting your exam posted and writing Dad’s obituary, so I apologize for too much information. If it’s meaningful to you, then I’m glad. If not, then that’s okay, too. You may not need to hear all of this, but I need to write it.

I am so, so very happy we were able to do our Bracebridge Christmas reception on Thursday. It was such a blessing to do something for Christmas with my favorite course and my favorite students since most of my other Christmas plans have been canceled. Dad loved mincemeat pie, so I’m glad we had the mini mincemeat pies for the party.

My dad lived a good, long life, he was ready to go, and he didn’t suffer long. He was my number one fan, so I lost my biggest supporter this week. He was there for every single one of my graduations, and there were many: high school, undergrad, master’s, and doctorate. Dad and Mom literally sang “Happy Birthday” to me for every single one of my birthdays, whether in person or over the phone, and there have been plenty of those, too.

He had three daughters who are all teachers, one loving wife of more than 50 years, and one grandson he adored. Dad “retired” at age 40 from one job, but he was always working, the hardest worker I have ever known. He was no Rip Van Winkle. He paid for all three of us kids to go to college, and is currently paying for his grandson’s college education. Dad ran his race, and he finished well. And he would want all of us to be prepared to meet Jesus and him on the other side of eternity.

Family celebrated his 80th birthday in August when we took him out to his favorite restaurant, Texas Roadhouse, which ironically shut down for repairs the morning of December 5, when Dad passed away. We had a good chuckle, imagining the shutdown being a tribute to him. Visiting Texas Roadhouse was the first dining out experience he and my mom had enjoyed since pre-Covid. One of the reasons Dad really liked Texas Roadhouse, I think, was because they treated veterans well on Memorial Day and Veterans Day (and on Dad’s birthday.) As an Army veteran, Dad loved getting his free meals and other perks. He was proud of his service to our country.

As I’m writing this exam, I came across a stack of Washington Irving books my Daddy had purchased. They were in a cabinet in his office, and I pulled them down to help me write the exam, since I didn’t have my Irving books with me. 

As you might guess, my dad was only interested in Washington Irving because I was interested in Washington Irving. Dad would study up on him because he loved me. They say you follow those you love, and Dad was certainly a follower of Dr. Hoffman, and thus a follower of Washington Irving.

He listened to snippets of the first Washington Irving podcast I was ever on, but he didn’t finish listening to the episode. He said it was a little boring. He was honest, and he tried to like what I liked. I sent him the link to our class’s cemetery podcast, but I’m not sure if he ever listened to it.

I can remember him calling me often from Half-Price Bookstore. He’d buy books and sell them, and while he was waiting for the offers from Half-Price, he’d read a little Washington Irving and call me to chat about some tidbit, or to see if I wanted some Irving books on the Half-Price shelves. We shared a love for books. His had more to do with finding a valuable book to sell, and my love has more to do with the power of words, but we still shared the love of books in print.

I trust both Daddy and Washington Irving are in heaven together. My dad would have been greeted by his very best friend, Donald, and his mother who passed when I first came to Baylor. But, at some point, I can see Daddy and Washington Irving making plans to have lunch, coffee, or dinner—to talk about me. Both loved food and coffee, as does Dr. Hoffman. “My daughter really liked you. We should definitely get together to talk about it,” I can hear Daddy saying. The thought of them together, talking about me, makes me smile and gives me more joy than I can express.

Thank you for taking English 4382 and diving into Washington Irving’s writing. I hope one great takeaway for you will be to see the value in author society work. If it’s not Washington Irving, perhaps another writer will be fortunate enough to have some of your time, money, and attention.

Please stay in touch—by email, social media, or in person. I would love to know how your Baylor Bearness goes out into the world, making it a better place. Sic ‘Em!

Daddy (left) and Donald at Niagara Falls. The three of us drove two round trips from Dallas-Fort Worth to Rochester, New York, for two antique toy shows. I’m so glad I was able to share this experience with them. –Photo by Tracy Hoffman
Published in: on February 15, 2023 at 1:41 pm  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hello,

    My condolences on your father’s passing. I enjoyed learning about him on your recent blog post, just as I always enjoy reading the blog posts on the Washington Irving Page. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt and loving tribute. It sounds like you had an excellent class.


    Joshua Myers (Irving reader and fan).

    Joshua Myers, Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor, English

    Kent State University, Salem; 330-337-4265



  2. My condolences on your father’s passing. I enjoyed learning about him on this blog post, just as I always enjoy reading the blog posts on this Washington Irving Page. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt and loving tribute, and for sharing the information about what sounds like an excellent class.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: