By Courtney Leadham
Backpacker, construction worker, editor, motorcycle owner, writer, grandfather, teacher and soon to be retiree: The Master’s College is about to lose one of its most intelligent and multi-talented professors in May. He has been a large part of the school for decades and has been a part of its community longer than almost anyone.
This is just scratching the surface of Dr. John G. Hotchkiss.
The English professor has been affiliated with the school since the early sixties when he was a young English major at Los Angeles Baptist College. He returned as a teacher in 1969 without even having his master’s degree completed until 1970.
Most students see Hotchkiss as a gentle and lovable English professor with a soft-spoken and patient demeanor. They may know one or two things about him, including the fact that his father is the one whom Hotchkiss Hall is named after. He is much more than this, though. No one would have guessed that he rode motorcycles in his free time, or that he used to work at Magic Mountain.
“He can do anything,” TMC English professor Jo Suzuki said of his colleague and friend.
During his time at LABC he was involved in chorale all four years, was elected ASB president his junior year, and even played baseball for a year at the college. His eclectic collections of hobbies and experiences have made him the professor and mentor he is now.
Hotchkiss has been vital to the growth of The Master’s College, most specifically the English department. Hotchkiss has been the English Chairman since 1974, up until two years ago. In this position he was able to approve what changes were made to the department over the years. He was instrumental in hiring the English professors that are on campus today, and allowing them the freedom to offer different courses that most undergraduate colleges would not offer.
“Horner and I just kept inventing classes that undergrad colleges would not have … our grad students are more advanced because he [Hotchkiss] allowed us to offer these different courses,” Suzuki said.
Hotchkiss has had a fulfilling experience during his years of teaching at TMC. Teaching can be discouraging if you are not directly seeing the benefits and results of the hard work. This is not true in Hotchkiss’ case, though. He has seen the impact that he and the college have had over the years.
“We have had many students that make us believe what we’re doing because we see God work in their lives,” Hotchkiss said.
After 43 years of service to TMC, Hotchkiss has decided that it is time to retire. His career at the college has been busy and fulfilling, but he recognizes that it is time to do something different. Now he is looking for a change of pace, although his heart is still focused on serving others.
“I would like to spend more time with family, which all retirees say,” he said. “I'm helping to raise my grandson so we're experiencing parenting all over again. We just had a parent teacher conference yesterday. He’s doing well … we’re going to keep being 21st century grandparents raising their grandkids.”
He also looks forward to renewing, and perhaps increasing, his involvement with his church Grace Baptist Church of Saugus. He and Sharron, his wife of 45 years, would like to become more involved with missions. Hotchkiss has not ruled out part-time teaching, either.
He knows what he will not be doing, though.
“No fishing, no golfing, no RV-ing. We’re not going to be the typical American retirees and do any of those,” “he said. “Neither of us is anxious to see the rest of the country mainly because we have family here and we’re needed every day with my grandson. That keeps us close.”
Hotchkiss has accepted his retirement and is optimistic about the future, especially the future of the college and English department.
“I'm tied to the history of the school but not the future of this school. The future of this school is in the hands of the next generation with a different vision and new energy and I'm hoping they can find a new replacement professor that will be like I was, committed to the long haul and that he or she will fit in with the other faculty.”
Including his time as a student when TMC was LABC, Hotchkiss has been an integral part of the school for close to 50 years. His presence and character will be missed.
Suzuki describes his friend Hotchkiss as an admirable man who has always put others before himself.
“He is a true gentleman.”
Courtney Leadham is a TMC English major