Service honoring Dean Charles Hood

Former Dean Charles HoodA memorial service for Charles E. “Charlie” Hood, will be held December 14th in Missoula. Hood, professor emeritus and former dean of the University of Montana School of Journalism, died of Parkinson’s disease earlier in October. Charlie's family is planning a service at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 14th, in the Masquer Theatre on the University of Montana campus. A reception will follow at the School of Journalism's Don Anderson Hall.

Hood was a nationally recognized Montana newspaper journalist before joining UM in 1969, where he developed a longtime interest in international affairs. Maintaining a home in Missoula, he traveled extensively and worked in Kumamoto and Tokyo, Japan; in Prague, Czech Republic; and in Paris, France. He was 73.

A writer and educator throughout his life, Charlie was known for being a kind and knowledgeable teacher with a passion for making sure students knew how to get the facts to tell a good story, how to make a complex issue understandable, and how to do so with good humor and good grammar.

Hood was born Nov. 13, 1939, in Lewistown to Charles and Esther Hood and grew up in Big Sandy and Miles City. He graduated in 1957 from Custer County High School in Miles City. He won Class A All-State honors for two years in basketball and held the school’s scoring record – 32 points in one game.

Years later, after a university-sponsored trip to eastern Montana, he wrote about going back home: “The Harmony Hangout, where I learned to jitterbug, is a senior citizens center. The Park Theater, where I watched Gene Autry movies for 12 cents on Saturday afternoons, is being converted into a nonalcoholic recreation center for young people.”

But Charlie found that some things remained. “My former home at Orr and Tenth looked much as it did 30 years ago. The latest owner, who was mowing the lawn, invited me inside. To my delight, I found that the damage I had done by throwing a tennis ball against the dining room wall was faintly discernible. The graffiti I had painted on the garage wall – ‘Davey Crockett, 1848’ – was still there.”

He earned his Bachelor of Arts in journalism in 1961 and a master’s degree in journalism in 1969 from UM. His master’s thesis was a biography of A.B. Guthrie, based upon a series of interviews with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. For his doctorate degree in American Studies, received from Washington State University in 1980, he wrote a dissertation titled “‘China Mike’ Mansfield: The Making of a Congressional Authority on the Far East.”

Shortly after beginning his newspaper career in Montana, Hood joined the U.S. Navy and first visited Asia. He served on the aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge in 1962-63, which was deployed to the Far East for eight months and visited Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong. In 1963-65, he was operations officer on the minesweeper USS Stalwart. He received an honorable discharge in 1965.

Hood was a reporter for United Press International in Helena, and was a reporter and editor at a number of Montana newspapers, including the Lewistown Daily News, the Great Falls Tribune and the Missoulian. In 1975, he and reporter Charles S. Johnson, were winners of a National Headliner Award for a 17-part series they wrote about Montana lawyers.

Throughout his academic career, Hood wrote for newspapers, and he organized, moderated and spoke at symposiums. A special report about drug use in Montana that he wrote with broadcast professor Phil Hess won recognition from the American Medical Association.

Hood began teaching journalism at the University of Montana while he was a graduate student and was hired as an instructor in 1969. In 1982, he was promoted to professor, the same year he was named acting dean for one year. At the time, he said he didn’t intend to be “just a caretaker dean” who “minds the paperwork” for the Journalism School on an interim basis. He told the Missoulian “I hope we can be trying some new things and improving ourselves.”

After a national search, he was named dean in 1983. He served as dean for a decade, and cemented the Journalism School’s reputation as one of the best in the country. Student evaluations said of him: “a font of knowledge, seems to know something about everything, very bright, informed, educated, intelligent, well-read and he knows all.” Students’ suggestions for improvements recommended “more coffee, keep up the good work, bag the senior paper and maybe wear a three-piece suit.“

Hood resigned from the dean’s position in 1993 to return to teaching, and he continued to run the school’s graduate studies program.

During his 26 years as a professor and dean, Hood developed a special interest in international affairs. Among his many university-related activities, he and professor Paul Lauren co-organized the inaugural event in 1984 for the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center — “The China Hands’ Legacy: Ethics and Diplomacy.” Hood also was a principal organizer of other international events, including “Journalists in China” in 1991, “Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor: Ethical and Historical Perspectives” in 1992, and “Press Freedom in Japan and the United States” in 1993.

“His work on these issues reveals Charlie’s broad intellectual curiosity and honesty, his passionate interest in questions of public policy, and his deep interest in ethics and speaking truth to power, even when the powerful did not want to hear it,” said Lauren, who is Regents Professor Emeritus.

In 1989-90, Hood taught and studied in Japan as an exchange professor at Kumamoto University. In 1995, he was an exchange scholar in journalism at Toyo University in Tokyo. While living in Kumamoto, he wrote “Sometimes, I think, you have to see things for yourself before you can really understand what is going on in a foreign country.”

Hood retired from UM in 1995. His post-retirement work included five stints as copy editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris, and working as a copy editor, writing coach, feature writer and opinion writer at The Prague Post, an English-language newspaper in the Czech Republic.

Charlie had a desire to learn from students and journalists from former communist countries, and he wanted them to be able to write free of censorship and other constraints. He developed the journalism program at the first English-language university in the Czech Republic after the Velvet Revolution. The program continues today.

In 2005-06, he created a journalism exchange relationship between UM and Charles University in the Czech Republic. He led students from both universities in a project called Common Ground, which brought students together in Missoula and Prague in summer 2007 to produce a report comparing and contrasting the Czech Roma and Native Americans in Montana.

Hood continued to serve on the advisory board of the Montanan, UM’s alumni magazine, until his death. Until recent years, he attended every Journalism School event as an engaged learner and active participant.

He leaves his wife, Joan (Jana) Hood; two sons, Kevin and Brian of Missoula; daughter, Hadley (John) Ferguson of Missoula; granddaughter, Sarah Ferguson; his sister, Marilyn (Duane) Dietrich of Tucson, Ariz.; and nieces and nephews. Charlie also leaves an extended family of former students around the globe.

A memorial service will be held later. Contributions in Charlie’s name may be made to Summit for Parkinson’s and to the School of Journalism for a scholarship to support students pursuing international journalism. Condolences for the family may be left with Whitesitt Funeral Home.

- posted on 10/12/13 -