Gov. Hogan eulogizes father in 'hardest thing I've ever had to do'

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan delivered an emotional eulogy Saturday for his father, former Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan Sr., whom he described as his "hero" who paid a political price for elevating principle over ambition.

"This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do," said Hogan, opening the eulogy at St. Mary's Catholic Church in downtown Annapolis by expressing uncertainty over whether he could complete the speech.


The governor managed to maintain his composure as he recounted the career of his political mentor, punctuating the address with humor that drew laughs from a capacity crowd at the 75-minute funeral Mass that was attended by former Govs. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Parris N. Glendening and by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a longtime family friend.

"My dad would be so honored to know that four governors attended his service," Hogan said. He said jokingly that the attendees included "every single living Republican governor" in heavily Democratic Maryland — meaning him and Ehrlich.

The former governors and Christie sat near each other in the front of the 19th-century church. Others in attendance included Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch; Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House; Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford; and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

The elder Hogan died on April 20 at Anne Arundel Medical Center after suffering a stroke. He was 88.

He was a three-term Republican congressman — and later Prince George's County executive — who served on the House committee that voted to recommend the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.

The governor said his father's favorite passage was from Theodore Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena" speech.

"My father kept a framed copy of that quote and I believe that it defined him and the way that he chose to lead his life," Hogan said.

The quote reads, in part: "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming."


He said his father's decision to advocate for the impeachment of Nixon — a president of his own party — came at political expense.

"That decision cost him his party's nomination for governor that year, but it was his defining moment," Hogan said. "It is that very moment in history for which he is most remembered and most admired. History later proved this courageous stand was the right thing to do."

But, Hogan added: "He would have been a great governor."

Forty years after losing the gubernatorial nomination, the elder Hogan cried with joy at the prospect of his son being elected the state's chief executive.

When the results of the 2014 election were in, "I said to him, 'Dad, it may have taken us 40 years, but we are finally going to have a Larry Hogan as governor of the great state of Maryland.' And once again tears streamed down his face," the governor said.

"I have been proud of my father my entire life, but it was at that very moment that I was aware of just how proud he was of me, and he was just as proud of all of his children."


The elder Hogan "had the ability to transcend party lines," said Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori, who delivered the homily. Looking at the governor, who was seated with his family, Lori said: "Governor, I think there is a gene for that."

The elder Hogan lost a 1982 campaign for the U.S. Senate — a bid his son said he tried to talk him out of. Hogan said his father later regretted running, but that it took him 20 years to admit he was wrong.

There were also readings and prayers at the service by the elder Hogan's four sons from his 1974 marriage to Ilona Maria Modley.

After his retirement, he often counseled his son on politics.

"During the campaign in 2014, I remember that he would call me with advice," Hogan said. "He'd say, 'You should use those green-and-white signs that I always used.' And he repeatedly said, 'You really should use that radio jingle that I had in 1968.'

"I'm going to miss those calls, hearing his voice, getting his advice."

A private interment was scheduled afterward in Frederick.