Dr. William “Bill” Hogarth, a legendary biologist who helped lead the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s marine science renaissance, died Nov. 5.
Campus officials announced that Hogarth, 83, died following a short illness. He is best known locally for helping propel the College of Marine Science after becoming its dean in 2007. A research vessel bearing his name docks in the adjacent Bayboro Harbor.
“Bill’s contributions to the marine science community cannot be overstated,” Tom Frazer, dean of the College of Marine Science, told the Catalyst.
Once assuming leadership of the college, Hogarth secured the funding necessary to rebuild laboratories, recruit new faculty and acquire the Weatherbird II research vessel. In 2010, he led efforts to study ecological impacts resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.
Hogarth became director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) the following year, a position he held until 2016. Housed at USFSP, the FIO works collaboratively with 32 other institutions and agencies. Despite his obligations managing the organization, Hogarth happily obliged former USF President Judy Genshaft when she asked him to serve as interim regional chancellor from 2012 until 2013.
“His reach was simply amazing,” added Frazer. “He had a strong international presence, played major roles in the development and implementation of national policies and gave his all to our local community.”
According to a USF College of Marine Science tribute compiled by several people close to Hogarth, that “amazing reach” began in 1939 in southeastern Virginia. It states his accent – once compared to that of cartoon rooster Foghorn Leghorn – was both a source of “bewilderment and amusement” to friends and acquaintances.
Despite his southern drawl, people described Hogarth as an “amazingly” effective communicator. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from the University of Richmond in 1965 and began his post-doctorate studies at North Carolina State University in 1966. The U.S. Army interrupted his studies, and the burgeoning biologist served at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
Following a long stint studying the effects of a nuclear plant on the local striped bass population, North Carolina’s governor asked Hogarth to lead the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries in 1986. He met his wife Mary that year. When the governor left office, Hogarth resigned and began a long affiliation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Hogarth’s work with the NMFS gave him his first introduction to St. Pete. In 2001, President George H.W. Bush appointed him as the Assistant Administrator of Fisheries, a position he held until 2007.
The tribute described his federal accomplishments as “prodigious” and included helping develop revisions to the nation’s primary fisheries management law. The legislation, which “put teeth” into overfishing statutes, earned Hogarth and his team the Department of Commerce Gold Medal.
“Bill Hogarth was a great leader and a better person,” said Steve Murawski, St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership Peter R. Betzer Endowed Chair at the College of Marine Science.
“He always challenged people to think big and inspired them to do their best.”
After retiring from federal service, Hogarth became dean of the College of Marine Science in 2007 and continued building his legacy. Following his research of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, then-Governor Charlie Crist appointed him to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Board, which disbursed $500 million to the disaster’s ecological effects.
To honor his many contributions to USFSP, the state and the organization, the FIO christened its new research vessel the R/V William T. Hogarth upon its commission in 2017. The William T. Hogarth Fellowship in Marine Mammals, awarded annually to an outstanding biological oceanography graduate student, also ensures his local impact continues perpetually.
According to the tribute, Hogarth was fun to work with and offered a constant supply of unconventional ideas. He attended the original Woodstock Festival in 1969, and his eclectic taste in music spanned artists like Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga and Blake Shelton.
Those close to him also expressed his affinity for Makers Mark bourbon.
“Bill had a larger-than-life personality and a tremendous work ethic,” said Melissa Seixas, chair of the USFSP Campus Board, in a statement. “He made such an impression on me over the years, and he cared very deeply about USF and the USF St. Petersburg campus.”
Hogarth lived on Treasure Island until his death. According to the tribute, he is survived by his wife Mary, sister Virginia, son Brandon, daughter Shelley Mitchell, grandchildren Peyton and Camdon Hay, Gray and Alison Sotir, Jessica Marcotte, great-grandson Nash and several nieces and nephews.
Campus officials ask that in place of flowers, people make memorial donations payable to the USF Foundation for the William T. Hogarth Fellowship in Marine Mammals (Foundation Fund Number 266012) at the website here.
“Bill was an incredible human being with a huge heart,” said Frazer. “He will be missed by many.”
All personal details are courtesy of the USF College of Marine Science.