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John Hotard '65 February 16, 2024 2:11 PM updated: February 16, 2024 2:21 PM

John Lawrence Hotard 

December 24, 1942 - February 12, 2024 

John Lawrence Hotard passed away peacefully Monday morning, February 12. He was 81.

A Celebration of His Life will be held at 2 pm Tuesday, February 20, in the Sanctuary at University Christian Church, 2720 S. University Drive, Fort Worth with a reception to follow. The service will be live streamed on the church’s website, John will be laid to rest privately with his wife, Susan, in Greenwood Memorial Park.

John was born in Bryan, Texas, the youngest of five sons to Joseph Clifton and Emily Jewell Holligan Hotard. Upon graduating from Stephen F. Austin High School, he entered Texas A&M University. After spending two years in college and joining a U. S. Naval Reserve unit on campus his freshman year, John decided to fulfill his military obligation and went into active duty in the U. S. Navy. He was assigned to the USS Georgetown, a technical research ship, and sailed in the Caribbean and down both coasts of South America.

Upon discharge from active duty, John returned to Texas A&M in the fall of 1965, majoring in journalism. He wrote news stories and a humor column for the student newspaper, “The Battalion.” The journalism department required a 10-week internship before graduation, so John answered a notice on the departmental bulletin board offering a three-month job at the Fort Stockton Pioneer, a weekly newspaper in West Texas. Afterwards, he returned to A&M and graduated in January 1968.

John’s first job after graduating was with the Hammond Times in the northwest corner of Indiana. It was there that he got the experience needed as a reporter. Two years later he returned to Texas to join The Associated Press in Dallas. He spent almost 15 years with the AP, the last seven as state editor.

In 1974, John married Susan Elizabeth Swain, an English teacher at Eastern Hills High School in Fort Worth and TCU graduate, whom he met on a blind date. They celebrated their marriage almost 49 years until her death in February 2023.

John switched from journalism to public relations in 1985 when he joined the corporate communications department at American Airlines in Fort Worth as a company spokesman. There he supported the operations side of the airline and was a member of the “Go Team,” a group of employees from various departments who traveled to the site of accidents or major incidents, to aid in the investigations.

During his career, John served as president of the Former Journalism Students Association at Texas A&M. In 2003, he was inducted into its “Wall of Fame.” He also served on the Van Cliburn Foundation cabinet for many years. John and Susan were long time Elders at University Christian Church and were among a small group of church members who started the Boar’s Head & Yule Log Festival. In past years, John served as chairman of the Church & Arts and Building & Grounds committees.

In gratitude, the family acknowledges the care of Dr. Rohan Gupta and his associates, and the 7th Floor nurses and staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital.

In addition to his sister-in-law, Rev. Ellen Young Swain of Cimarron, New Mexico, John is survived by his brother-in-law, Robert Steven Swain and his wife, Susie of Arlington; and nephews, Chris Swain and his wife, Erin, and their son, Brock of Frisco, and Matt Swain and his wife, Lisa, and their children, Madeline and Merideth Milby, and Wyatt and Elizabeth Swain.

In lieu of flowers, consideration of contributions to the UCC Music Fund and to the ACH Child and Family Services, in his memory, is suggested. 


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