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John P. Hoschek
NOTE: The following memories of the late John P. Hoschek are courtesy of Albert E. Meier, from the pages of Motor Coach Age in the September-October 1990 issue. It has been slightly edited for the MBS web page by Dave Mackey.
In any organization there is one person who embodies the image of the group, who sets the pace, and who by example establishes the opportunities for others to participate to the best of their individual abilities. This is as true in a small volunteer organization as it is in a large business.
John Hoschek was the guiding spirit for the Motor Bus Society for 40 years. He was born in Trenton and never strayed very far for very long in spite of a varied career, almost all of it involving some aspect of the bus industry.
John graduated from Temple University with a degree in Business and Public Administration in 1955. He attended the U.S. Army Transportation School at Fort Eustis, Virginia in 1956. After short stints at Suburban Transit Corp. and Flxible, he scraped together enough cash to buy some second-hand buses and take over three suburban crosstown routes north of Philadelphia. These were operated as Penn Valley Transit, one of a succession of efforts to make these lines pay.
Meantime a school contract and charter business was developed, and this was continued until the close of the New York World's Fair in 1965. Following that came employment by the Avenue B & East Broadway Transit Co. in Manhattan, then by American Express, John's only venture outside the transportation field.
In 1969 he was named the first chief of the Bureau of Bus Transportation by the newly formed New Jersey Department of Transportation. There he stayed for almost six years, and there perhaps his most significant accomplishment was writing the specifications for the NJDOT's 779-bus order (later increased to 866) that was placed in 1976, introducing the era of State-owned and privately operated buses in New Jersey.
During the late 1970's John successively headed up the county transportation departments in Bergen County, NJ, Rockland County, NY, and Gloucester County, NJ, with the last two separated by a short time when he sold buses for AM General. He went back to the New Jersey DOT in 1982 and held senior posts with the department thereafter.
The walls of John's office at the New Jersey DOT bore evidence of his professional competence in numerous citations and awards from grateful local governments and citizens' groups. But he was at least as proud of his achievements on behalf of the Motor Bus Society, chief among which was the establishment and almost single-handed maintenance of its extensive library.
What is in every sense the Society's collection could as easily have been John's own, but is interest was not in the amassing of a private and inaccessible hoard for the benefit of no one save himself. The collection had as its purpose the centralized preservation of the bus industry's history, which in turn has made the regular publication of this magazine a practical possibility.
Through the 1960's and 1970's, particularly, as industry pioneers were retiring and as manufacturers who had withdrawn from building buses were forgetting about their archives, John was instrumental in securing for our library a huge amount of irreplaceable material. Undoubtedly there are records and photographs that remain to be unearthed. Certainly there are private collections, sequestered and unavailable. But anyone interested in transportation history must realize that the existence of the MBS library has enabled the Society to go on disseminating historical material for everyone's benefit. John Hoschek made that happen.
On the evening of July 31, 1990, at his home, John suffered a severe heart attack, and on August 7, 1990, he died at the age of 60.
To say that he is missed is to say little. His dedicated effort will never be replaced; his energy and enthusiasm cannot be duplicated. Whatever pride anyone may have in the accomplishments of the Society only reflects John's ability to sustain the whole enterprise over many years.
Many have written and called in the days since John's death, and throughout these communications a constant note keeps sounding. Acknowledging John's leadership of the MBS and his deep knowledge of the history of the business, people say that of greater importance to them has been his friendship. No one gets through life without ruffling a few feathers the wrong way, but whatever disagreements John may have had clearly did not extend to those who shared his abiding interest.
John died full of dreams and plans, both for his own life and for the Society, and thus the last farewell to our friend was an especially difficult one. His legacy to us is a gift to be treasured, an example to be followed, and a record of published research that will speak for itself.
Requeiscat in pace.