In Memoriam: Rev. G. Harry Hock, S.J.

Longtime former Gonzaga Treasurer Fr. Harry Hock, S.J. passed away on April 5, 2019. Fr. Hock worked at Gonzaga for 21 years, leading the school’s business office under former president Fr. Dooley, S.J., and shepherding Eye Street through some of its most difficult years financially.

Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Fr. Hock attended Loyola Blakefield High School and then Loyola College—now known as Loyola University Maryland. Inspired by his Jesuit teachers, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1953 and was ordained in 1964. Before coming to work on Eye Street in 1976, he taught Math at Georgetown University, Fordham University, and Wheeling College. (Click here to read an obituary from the Maryland Province Jesuits).

“Fr. Hock was truly a kind, compassionate man,” says Jim Rogers, who worked with Fr. Hock for nearly a decade and now serves as Gonzaga’s V.P. of Finance and Administration. “He faithfully stewarded the school's finances and always provided the utmost care for each and every Gonzaga student, and employee, while he was the Treasurer. He will be greatly missed by many.”

In 2013, Gonzaga awarded Fr. Hock the St. Aloysius Medal, the school’s highest honor, for his steadfast service to the young men of Eye Street. Below is the citation that was read at the St. Aloysius Dinner that year:

Early in Father Novotny’s days as President of Gonzaga, he found it a little odd that the President’s Office was located on one end of Eye Street in Forte Hall and the Treasurer’s Office was all the way on the other side in what was the first floor of the Jesuit Rectory. Harry Hock was the Treasurer at the time and one day Father Novotny walked in to Harry’s office and gave him the good news that he was having a new spacious suite of offices built inside Forte Hall, just for Harry. But Harry politely declined. “I can’t move all of this,” he said, and he pointed at a desk buried beneath a two-foot-plus mountain of bills, balance sheets, audit reports, sports schedules—all “Gonzaga stuff.” Now, Father Novotny still thought it was a good idea that the Treasurer’s Office be moved, so he went to his good friend Stuart Long and asked if there wasn’t some way that the Treasurer’s desk—papers and all—could be contained inside some sort of industrial bubble wrap and moved down Eye Street? Stuart shook his head, “You’ve got twenty years of Gonzaga history on top of that desk, Father. It’s not going anywhere until Father Hock does.”

In their own way, all those papers were artifacts of a critical and defining period of Gonzaga’s history. From the brink of closure in the 1970’s to the brink of unprecedented campus revitalization in the 1990’s, the details of Gonzaga’s rebirth were all there to be found on Harry Hock’s desk—because he had been such a vital part of it both holding Gonzaga together, and seeing it rise again.

Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Harry Hock attended Loyola High School and then Loyola College – now known as Loyola University of MD. Inspired by those Jesuits who had taught him, Harry himself answered the Lord’s call to the Society of Jesus in 1953 whereupon he began a new life in service to others that is now in its 60th year. As a young man, his interests were many, but Harry would find particular joy in the study of Mathematics. Ordained in 1964, he would go on to teach Math at Georgetown University, Fordham University, and Wheeling College. Little could he have predicted during those heady days as a professor of higher learning that in 1976 his call to serve others would lead him away from pristine college campuses to help educate teenage boys at a struggling inner-city high school, in a struggling neighborhood, with a physical plant so weary that even the school’s Board Chair described it as “Early Alcatraz.”

As Gonzaga’s Treasurer, Harry Hock would be right-hand man to Gonzaga’s then new President, Father Bernie Dooley. Now, for those of you who knew Father Dooley, you know he had a reputation as a pretty good salesman, especially when it came to Gonzaga—and yet one still has to wonder about his pitch to lure Harry Hock away from college academia to mind the books and pay the bills on Eye Street.

After all, the school had no endowment; there were as many empty desks as there were students; and a third of the students who were there could not afford to pay the full tuition. And not only was Father Dooley asking Harry to balance the accounts in a way that probably seemed akin to the miracle of the loaves and fishes, there also came the infamous “other duties as assigned”—including, opening the school doors at 6:30 in the morning for the boys who arrive early; securing the buildings at night; answering the door at any hour—because, you know, Harry, sometimes a boy forgets his books and needs to be let back into the school, or he missed his ride and he hasn’t any money to get home.

Father Dooley also knew that his friend, Harry, was a big sports fan, so the conversation might have continued something like this. “You can go to all the games, Harry. Football, Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, Track—of course, the boys don’t win very often. But they try really hard, Harry. I think all they need is a team chaplain. Would you mind doing that, too, Harry? Oh, and did I mention teaching a couple a sections of Math. And the faculty is telling me we need to start offering something called “computer” classes. Do you know anything about these new computers, Harry? Would you mind teaching that too?

No, Harry Hock did not mind. In fact, what Father Dooley was offering was for Harry Hock a dream job—a chance to really make a difference in the world, a chance to help build the Kingdom of God.

While the job of Treasurer is often viewed as tabulating assets and debits, it wasn’t long before Harry Hock recognized in Gonzaga a value that was incalculable—beginning with boys who were truly eager to learn and grow and become men for others; the Gonzaga community was imbued with a boundless spirit, and teachers were willing to commute long distances for salaries lower than they might receive elsewhere, and they worked in outdated classrooms, just for the opportunity of teaching these purple-clad boys.

Before long, the measurable accomplishments also came. With Gonzaga’s financial position stabilizing, the classrooms began filling with boys again, a gym was built, a new library was added, and an old apartment building was renovated into much needed classroom and office space. And more often than not when Harry Hock led the Eagles in prayer before their ballgames, he was cheering a Gonzaga victory at the end of it.
Over the years, the Gonzaga community twice expressed its gratitude to Harry Hock for all he had done to preserve and improve our venerable school. In 1986, the Board of Directors exercised its right made possible by the school’s Presidential Charter and conferred upon Harry Hock an Honorary Doctorate degree. In 1999, the Gonzaga Alumni Association, in recognition of his more than two decades of service to Gonzaga athletes as their chaplain, inducted Harry into its Athletic Hall of Fame.

During his twenty-one years on Eye Street, he probably took on the work of three or four men and was, in a word, Gonzaga’s rudder—in his own quiet and largely unseen way, he kept the school moving ever forward.

Throughout its long history, Gonzaga has been blessed by hundreds of Jesuits, who for God’s Greater Glory have given all their liberty, their understanding, their entire wills. Harry Hock, you are among the very finest of these men to have given all you had to give to our school. Tonight, Harry, a very grateful Gonzaga Community wishes to thank you for giving so much of your life to build a school of men for others, and we are honored to bestow upon you the St. Aloysius Medal.
Back
Educating young men in the Jesuit tradition since 1821