Dick Hodgson's Legacy
Although he passed away in late January, word of Dick Hodgson's death caught a number of attendees at the May Catalog Conference in Chicago by surprise. I heard about it right away, but I hadn't joined Catalog Success yet. So I felt it appropriate to set aside this month's column to finally give this catalog legend the industry recognition he deserves.
Not many who knew him realized that Richard Sargeant Hodgson, who spent the last three years of his life battling myelodysplasia, a rare bone marrow disorder affecting blood cell production, got his start in direct marketing by operating his own lettershop and advertising service while he was still in high school. (He even sold magazines door-to-door while still a third-grader.)
A one-time U.S. Marine, Dick would become director of the creative graphics division of R.R. Donnelley & Sons in the 1960s and vice president and creative director for the Franklin Mint in the early '70s. He founded catalog consulting and development services firm Sargeant House in 1975, and later served on the boards of Foster & Gallagher and the QVC Network.
I remember Dick for two things: his warm, caring, razor sharp and engaging manner, and his dedication to educating catalogers. Dick spent 25 years teaching catalog and direct marketing to more than 20,000 students.
From my years of interviewing him for stories about catalog companies and trends, I'd turn to Dick because he was the expert on all things catalog. Whenever I'd interview him, I knew I was always getting the definitive word on a company or subject.
Always a kind soul, he nevertheless pulled no punches. If he thought a particular company was doing something the wrong way, he'd let you know about it. In fact, reflecting on my years of involvement with the Annual Catalog Awards, one thing always comes to mind: When I moderated judging panels and Dick was in the group, no judge could come down harder on a catalog. But Dick always had plenty to back his charges.
"The first thing I think of about Dick Hodgson is his voice," reflects catalog consultant and author Katie Muldoon, who was a protégé of Dick's in the catalog education field. "It was kind of a low rumble; deep, but light. And it often had a chuckle in it. Being around him felt good, not just because he always honestly knew what he was talking about, but because you knew that this was a warm man, just like his voice."
Tim Litle, a credit processing systems veteran who served on several catalog company boards with him, says Dick was "always interested in hearing about new ideas that would benefit direct marketers. He was most supportive of innovation and entrepreneurs, and the importance of their role in our industry. He listened, and often had helpful suggestions."
Paul Miller, Editor in Chief