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University of Iowa Foundation Release


Jan. 25, 2008

Athletics scholarship honors friendship and fatherhood

A close friend and the three sons of 1940 University of Iowa graduate and former Des Moines businessman James M. Hoak (photo, left) have made gift commitments totaling $100,000 to the UI Foundation to establish an endowed athletics scholarship fund in Hoak's name.

The idea for the James M. Hoak Scholarship came from Hoak's friend and Fort Dodge native Clark A. Johnson (photo, right), who made an initial gift of $40,000 to launch the scholarship, which will be designated for deserving student-athletes in the UI men's athletics program. Johnson and Hoak now reside in North Palm Beach, Fla.

Hoak's three sons joined Johnson in honoring their father and building the endowed fund to the $100,000 level. James M. Hoak Jr. of Dallas, Texas, David A. Hoak (a 1968 UI business graduate) of Des Moines and Jon S. Hoak of Menlo Park, Calif., each made gift commitments to the fund, as have other family members and friends. Future gifts will build the fund to the $200,000 level, at which point the Hoak scholarships will be permanently earmarked for student-athletes on the UI men's golf team.

The first James M. Hoak Scholarship has been awarded to UI senior Dan Holterhaus of Cedar Rapids, a member of the UI men's golf team and a marketing major in the UI Tippie College of Business.

Johnson says his acquaintance with Hoak is well into its fourth decade.

"I first met Jim Hoak and discovered our Iowa connections back in 1970, when he qualified for an amateur golf tournament in Portland, Oregon, where I was living at the time," Johnson recalls. "We lost touch after that, but when I retired in 1998 and moved to Florida, I discovered Jim and his wife were living in the very same community. We renewed our friendship and have been pals and golfing partners ever since.

"Jim graduated from the university nearly 68 years ago, and I left campus in 1953, but neither of us has ever lost his enthusiasm for the university, and for its mission of equipping students with the tools to succeed in life after college," Johnson continued. "Jim's been so important to the university over the years, and I wanted to do something to honor his love for the UI while he and his family could enjoy and participate in that recognition."

While at Iowa, James M. Hoak lettered in golf and roomed with UI football legend Nile Kinnick. Hoak attended the M.B.A. program at Harvard University in the early 1940s and after service in the Navy during World War II, joined the family business, the Wheeler Lumber Company, headquartered in Des Moines. He served as the firm's president for more than 20 years before retiring in 1985. Hoak and his wife, Jane, a 1941 UI graduate, have been UI supporters and volunteers for many years, and are members of the Presidents Club, which recognizes the UI's most generous contributors.

"The James Hoak Scholarship represents a real win-win for the UI athletics program," UI Athletics Director Gary Barta said. "The student-athletes who earn the Hoak Scholarship will have the distinction of knowing that their awards carry the name of one of our most loyal and generous graduates -- someone who knew Nile personally, and who represents the proud history and integrity of the UI athletics program. We're very grateful to Clark Johnson and the Hoak family for choosing to honor Jim by investing in the future of our student-athletes."

Retired president, chairman and CEO of Pier 1 Imports, Johnson began his career in much the same way as his friend James Hoak. Johnson attended the UI business college as well as the Harvard Business School, and spent the first decades of his career in the lumber business, serving as president of Wickes Lumber and Wickes Furniture from 1971-82. With business partner Jack Nicklaus, he purchased and was named chairman and CEO of MacGregor Golf Company in Atlanta in 1982. He was then named president of Pier 1 Imports, Inc. of Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1985 and retired in 1998. Like the Hoaks, Johnson and his wife, Joan, are generous UI contributors and members of the UI Presidents Club.

The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university.  For more information about the UI Foundation, visit its web site at

PHOTOS: High-resolution images of Jim Hoak and Clark Johnson are available at

Web-quality images also are available:

STORY SOURCE: UI Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, Iowa 52244-4550

MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Shullaw, 319-335-3305,