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Farewell James Hoage

Bay Weekly wasn’t many issues old when the first letter from J.A. Hoage, Severna Park, arrived. It was a duplicate, not an original, for letters from James Hoage fell like rain on every newspaper covering Anne Arundel County and his larger area of interest, state, national and global politics. I’m sure it was photocopied, but in my mind’s eye Hoage’s letters are mimeographed, as his handouts to his ­Severna Park High School and Severn School students would once have been.
    Hoage letters appeared regularly. Each one bore a snappy title, an editorial cartoon copied from some smart newspaper and a hand-written signature. Each fit on one typed page.
    The content was also formulaic. Each made detailed arguments — often itemized — against some policy or practice with which Hoage disagreed. Hoage was a liberal, activist Democrat. Republicans, war and the Anne Arundel County executive, council and school board were favorites skewered by his sharp wit.
    Letter by letter, I longed to know more about the man behind them. But James Hoage refused to sit for a profile. Letters were all he had to say — in print.
    In person — as in his letters — the organizer of the District 33 Democratic Club was eloquent about his opinions. He also took to roadside stands, waving signs in advance of elections. He may have been shy about himself but never about truth as he saw it.
    J.A. Hoage, Severna Park, died February 27, 2013, at the age of 73.