Katharine Bail Hoskins, former chairwoman of the University of La Verne’s English department, died Aug. 1 at the Mt. San Antonio Garden Community Home in Claremont. She was 90.
Dr. Hoskins began teaching at the University as a literature professor in 1964 and touched the lives of many in her 30 years at La Verne. Alongside her department head position, she also served as chairwoman of the humanities division.
In addition to teaching an array of English courses, she was a poetry enthusiast, so much so that she started a poetry club at the community home in which she lived.
“She was a larger than life person,” said Susan Hoskins Hunter, daughter of Dr. Hoskins. “We would sometimes call her ‘Monument’ because she was so incredible.”
Dr. Hoskins was born Mary Catherine Bail in 1924 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Ernest Benjamin Bail and Effie Irene Barron Bail.
She received her bachelor’s degree in English at the University of New Mexico in 1944, her master of arts in English literature in 1950, later her Ph.D in English literature in 1965 from Columbia University in New York.
“She taught me to care deeply for others,” Hunter said.
Hunter remembers people who were called “Okies,” who were Dust Bowl refugees, coming to the back door of her family home in Albuquerque looking for food and work. They were sometimes skinny and sick. Dr. Hoskins often helped them.
Her experiences and observations during World War II also helped shape her daughter’s attitudes toward suffering and misery.
“I learned by her example to have empathy for those who suffer and help if you can,” her other daughter Judy Hoskins Robinson said.
“Students (enjoyed) her classes and appreciated her terrific sense of humor and her love for the subjects she (taught),” said David Werner, current chair of the English department, who was a friend of Dr. Hoskins for nearly 15 years.
“She was wonderful and very well-liked, though she had little patience for foolishness. I don’t remember her using this exact term, but she was the type of person to call someone a fiddlestick,” Werner said.
Dr. Hoskins met her husband, Herbert Hoskins, while at Columbia, and they married in 1950.
Both served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and both were each other’s greatest supporters while writing their dissertations.
Dr. Hoskins served in the WAVES Naval Reserve as a link trainer instructor for pilots.
A memorial service will be held in December. She will also be buried next to her husband at the Los Angeles Cemetery today.
Dr. Hoskins is survived by her daughters, Janet Hoskins Valeri, Susan Hoskins Hunter and Judith Hoskins Robinson; six grandchildren; and her sister Ann Bail Howard.
Those who would like to share memories of Dr. Hoskins during the memorial in December can contact her daughters at 410 Churchill Rd., Sierra Madre, California, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yaya Pineda can be reached at email@example.com.