Fred Hoar, my mentor and my hero, died yesterday

Fred as I remember him

Among the very great and lucky experiences I’ve had was the opportunity to work for nearly three years alongside Fred Hoar in Silicon Valley. Fred died yesterday, a living legend, at the age of 77.

Everyone who knew Fred will agree on one thing: no one could ever replace him, no one could ever even appraoch him. Looking at his life one can only wonder how he did it, postioning Apple Computer and introducing the Macintosh and being right in the forefront of everything Silicon Valley, from Fairchild Semiconductors in the 70s right up through the dot-com craze. He was one of the true pioneers, but more than that, he was a kind and decent man, incredibly generous and brilliant, yet humble and self-effacing. Witty and funny, too.

Fred used to emcee countless Silicon Valley events, always introducing himself with his signature line, “Good evening, I’m Fred Hoar.” Then he’d pause a few seconds and clarify, “That’s spelled F-R-E-D.” And it was hilarious everytime. Once I head him add, “If you think having that last name has been a pain for me, just ask one of my four daughters what she thinks.”

I know there must be many like me who looked up to Fred as a mentor and as a father figure. I learned more about writing from him than from anyone else. I treasure the many evenings after work when we would meet in his office and talk about poetry and literature; he would recite from memory Yeats’ entire “Sailing to Byzantium,” and I’d recite the intro to “Paradise Lost.” Or we’d recite lines from books and see if the other could guess the author.

My friend Jeremy, founder of up-and-coming Pop! Public Relations, has written a moving tribute to Fred as well. I suspect by tomorrow, many more will be all over the Internet.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

Yikes! What a terrible month you’re having…’s the broken leg?

January 7, 2004 @ 11:50 am | Comment

Susan, I knew Fred was dying for the past month or so, this was no big shock or trauma. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that when I heard the news yesterday I felt devastated, as though a part of me had died. Fred was a titan.

January 7, 2004 @ 12:23 pm | Comment

Tributes To Fred Begin

My boy Jeremy Pepper has posted a nice tribute to Fred Hoar. And Richard at The Peking Duck has also posted a moving tribute to Hoar. Obviously we’ve lost a very special person. Last night I was thinking about how…

January 7, 2004 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

BTW, your blog posting on Fred made it to PR Fuel’s blog (

January 9, 2004 @ 2:18 pm | Comment

I just returned from Fred’s funeral in Palo Alto. It was lovely. There must have been 600 attendees. Lined up out the door to pay tribute to a mentor, a friend, a father figure. To be loved by so many shows what a special man he was.

I was lucky enough to have been a student of Fred’s in Santa Clara University’s Graduate Business program. While I knew him only in the last couple years of his life I will remeber him forever. A great teacher and very giving of his time and knowledge. He will be missed greatly.

January 10, 2004 @ 12:51 pm | Comment

Stephen, thanks so much for that — I would have gone, too, had I been in the US. What a magnificent person, and how blessed we were to have him touch our lives.

January 10, 2004 @ 12:54 pm | Comment

I am deeply moved, still not able to fully digest the possibility that Fred is gone. He was a mentor and dear friend. I worked with him here in Silicon Valley and Shanghai.

SARS kept us from returning last summer to Shanghai for a conference from Harvard.

A black hole perhaps is the mark he has now imprinted. I miss him terribly.

Hope Frank

January 15, 2004 @ 1:56 pm | Comment

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