Mary Ann Hogan, longtime Bay Area journalist and writing teacher, died June 13, roughly a year after being diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. She was 67.
A Bay Area native, Hogan grew up in Mill Valley and died in her family’s home there surrounded by her husband, two sons and her dog.
The much-respected reporter, editor, writer and teacher began her career freelancing for The Washington Post and the San Jose Mercury News after graduating from UC Santa Cruz.
She then went on to an award-winning stint at the Oakland Tribune, then-owned by legendary local newspaper bosses Nancy and Bob Maynard.
“Mary Ann made me a better editor,” said Sarah Pollock, Hogan’s editor at the Tribune and longtime Mills College journalism professor. “She taught me to listen with imagination and heart.”
Trailing a long banner of dot-matrix printer paper filled with anecdotes, questions “and wonderful leaps of imagination,” Hogan would arrive at Pollock’s desk ready to work.
“We learned together how to collaborate … and the stories she created were beautiful,” Pollock said. “Many went viral, as we would call it now, reprinted in newspapers all over the country.”
Hogan left daily journalism to raise her two sons, William and James, and began teaching at San Francisco State University and in private writing groups.
She continued to freelance, her stories appearing in many of the nation’s major newspapers, and for six years Hogan wrote personal essays that were nationally syndicated by the Los Angeles Times.
Her stories explored the human condition and tended to find permanent homes in her readers’ hearts.
When a nun emailed Hogan to ask for a copy of a story she wrote 10 years before called “Why We Cry,” a story the nun used in workshops for homeless women but could no longer read after a decade of running it though copy machines, Hogan sent the story and then flew down to Southern California to lead one of the workshops.
In 1994, she followed her husband, Eric Newton, to Virginia, where she became the primary writer for the history exhibits at the original Newseum in Arlington.
She also kicked off a 15-year tenure as a writing coach with the Chips Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Journalism, training hundreds of young journalists of color.
“Mary Ann was a gift and my guide. She made me shine,” said Tonya Alanez, who covers crime and breaking news at the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where she was part of the team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
After moving to Florida, Hogan began coaching under the auspices of national journalism organizations, including the American Press Institute, Poynter Institute, Maynard Institute and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
In middle age, Hogan earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University and taught there and at Palm Beach State College for seven years.
In 2016, Hogan and her husband came back to the Mill Valley home in which she grew up. She started a new private writing group for women and wrote a column for the Marin Independent Journal.
Hogan was born in San Francisco to a newspaper family.
Her father, William, was a Stars and Stripes correspondent during World War II and then wrote book and drama criticism for the San Francisco Chronicle, where he met her mother, Phyllis, who was the chief “copy boy.”
Like her parents, Hogan met her future husband in a newsroom. In 1979, she was a feature writer at the Oakland Tribune when he was a copy boy.
The two were married for 32 years and edited each other’s work and collaborated on everything from plays and books to interactive games and retail products.
Hogan is survived by her husband, Eric Newton, of Mill Valley; her sons, William Newton of San Francisco and James Newton of Mill Valley; her sister, Michele Liapes of San Francisco; her brother Dennis Hogan of Laytonville, Calif., and his wife, Beth; her niece, Annika Hogan and her husband, Dusty Hughston, of Miranda, Calif.; and her great-nephews Shade, Asher and Haze.