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Nicholas Hoff with former students (Hoff is in the front row, 3rd from left)

Professor Hoff with former students, gathered to celebrate his 90th birthday.
Palo Alto, California, on January 6, 1990
FRONT ROW (L to R) students from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute: Robert S. Levy (1942-46), Jean Mayers (1946), Nicholas Hoff, Harold Liebowits,
BACK ROW (L to R) Clive Dym (Stanford 1964-66), Yoichi Hirano (1963 at Unive. of Tokyo and 1977-79 res.assoc. at Rensselaer), Ilan Levi (Stanford 1965-69), Tatsuzo Koga (Stanford 1963-68), Sathya Hanagud (Stanford 19558-..), Bernard (Skip) Ross (Stanford 1958-62), Brian Lempriere (Brooklyn Poly 1954-58 and Stanford 1958-62), Christoph Muser (Rensselaer 1977-81), K.Y. Narasimhan (Stanford 1963-..), David Bushnell (Stanford 1962-65), Terence Honikman (Stanford 1965-70)
Missing from picture but present at celebration: Michel Benoit (Stanford 1967-80), Vladimir Lieskovsky (Stanford 1957-59)

Professor Tatsuzo Koga writes:
I am honored to have been a student and friend of late Professor Hoff for the most important half of my life that coincides with the most prosperous one third of his. I have enriched myself spiritually through a continuous close personal contact with him. It began 33 years ago with his helping hand that helped me out of hunger for knowledge and status: He awarded me a fellowship for graduate study at Stanford University starting from the fall quarter of 1963.

The first time I met him was in 1962 when he was spending his sabbatical year teaching at the University of Tokyo as a visiting professor. I was young and bold enough to present myself to the world-renowned scholar at his lodging in Roppongi in Tokyo. The warmth of his big welcome hug at that first encounter still remains deep in my memory and recognized the same warmth every time we hugged. I had the honor to meet him many times in Roppongi, Komaba, or Hongo in the city of Tokyo. He often gave me a ride from one place to another on his small Datsun, which was provided for his personal use by Nissan Motor Company. I was amazed to see that a famous American professor drove like a mad and was crazy about outrunning the notorious Kamikaze taxi drivers on the congested narrow streets in downtown Tokyo. That easily made a bad influence on an innocent young admire. Some years later, as a beginning private pilot, I earned a nickname of Kamikaze pilot among the air traffic controllers in the San Francisco Bay Area by frequently causing a mess in the congested air traffic primarily because they didn't understand my English and I didn't follow their orders.

During the five and a half year period of my graduate study and post graduate research at Stanford, I learned a lot from Professor Hoff. He took care of me not only as an academic advisor for my Ph.D. thesis on the buckling of spherical shells but also as a mentor for all aspects of student's life. On a sunny summer day, a group of Hoff's students gathered around their boss having coffee on the terrace of Student Union. In those days, mini-skirts were very popular among the coeds. When I was talking about a recent progress in my research work, I noticed Professor Hoff was not listening to me but looking deep inside a super mini-skirt worn by a beautiful young lady. So, I said, "Professor Hoff, you are not listening to me! What are you looking at?" He was not disturbed by this inquisitive question. He raised his face, looked at me straight and asked, "Do you want to be a good research man?" I answered, "Yes, I do, sir." Then, he raised his right hand, made a ring by the thumb and the middle finger, and solemnly declared, "To be a good research man, you have to be young, young at least at heart. To be young, you have to be curious, curious about everything. Curiosity will make a man young. Then he will be a good research man."

Professor Hoff was also a tutor for my English learning. I didn't understand class lectures in English and sometimes didn't even hear homework assignments during the first year at Stanford. I now speak and write in English in a way he taught by his patient private instruction. Although I am far out of reach his level of excellence, I am proud to say that my English is a kind of Japanese styled, Hungarian version Californianized American English. In return for his kindness, I have tried to help him to understand Japanese, but it often turned out that he knew much better than I did especially about Japanese history. One day in the summer of 1968 just before the opening of the IUTAM Congress held on Stanford campus, he asked me to read and correct a part of a draft of his opening address. To my surprise, it was written in Japanese which read here and there a bit odd idiomatically but was perfectly correct grammatically. So, I didn't make any correction on it at all. The opening address thus became a genuine original composition of his own style. It surprised and impressed Japanese delegates, who knew very well that they couldn't have attended the conference without the financial assistance provided by the local organization committee headed by Professor Hoff. All the Japanese delegates still remember those wonderful days and are very grateful to his generosity.

Professor Hoff's linguistic interest affected his students in enhancing their interest in foreign languages. I became interested in broadening my knowledge beyond Japanese and English. He encouraged me to take an introductory Russian course after fulfilling the second language requirement for Ph.D. by German. A shallow knowledge of Russian thus acquired became useful when we traveled together to many places in Central Asia of the former Soviet Union including Tashkent, Fergana, Dushambe, and a highland village on the foot of the Pamirs.

Traveling with him was always fun. He attracted people by his charming personality and wit and made them friends for good. He had made many good friends during his frequent visits to Japan and had become a legendary figure in the Japanese engineering community. The last visit to Japan by Professor Hoff was arranged by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.. Professor Hoff and his wife Ruth were invited to Tanegashima island as guests of honor on the occasion of the completion of the largest launch pad in Japan in Tanegashima Space Center of National Space Development Agency of Japan. Kawasaki was the main contractor for the construction of the launch tower and Professor Hoff acted as consultant to Kawasaki for the design of that tower. I joined them and flew from Tokyo to Tanegashima via Kagoshima. In Kagoshima, we took a sightseeing tour in the city and around. An English speaking guide gave an account of Saigo-san; one of the greatest figures in the history of modern Japan, who played an important role in the Meiji restoration. Professor Hoff surprised the guide by giving a detailed account of Tokugawa shogunate and the Meiji era. He told me that he had a good Japanese classmate in his student days at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, whose name was Saigo and was actually a grandson of the big Saigo. He became curious about how Mr. Saigo had been doing and asked me to find out his whereabouts. I had tried only to find that his trace had been lost somehow in the middle of his career as an engineer with Mitsubishi Ship Building Ltd. The rest is still remains as an assignment yet to be answered to my former professor.

As he acquired friends after friends, I have just followed the chain of friends of Hoff's connection. Thus I have acquired many good friends worldwide. Friends from Hoff's school are bound by brotherhood. I owe Professor Hoff those wonderful gifts

I sincerely thank Professor Hoff for what he had done to what I am today.

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