Rodney L. Hoover, a retired Randallstown High School physics and general science teacher who also had been department chair, died Thursday of cancer at Vantage House in Columbia. He was 83.
The son of farmers Joseph F. Hoover and Grace C. Shuman Hoover, Rodney Leroy Hoover was born and raised in Newburg, Pa.
After graduating in 1949 from Shippensburg High School in Shippensburg, Pa., he earned a bachelor's degree in 1953 from what was then Shippensburg State Teachers College.
He served in the Marine Corps as a payroll clerk for two years before being discharged in 1955 with the rank of corporal.
Mr. Hoover earned a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University and did further studies at the South Dakota School of Mines, Rutgers University, Temple University, Washington University and George Washington University.
He began his teaching career in Baltimore County public schools in 1962 at Sudbrook Junior High School, and later taught physics and science at Milford Mill High School.
In 1969, he joined the faculty at Randallstown, where he continued teaching physics and general science and was department chair until 1985, when he retired.
"I had him twice, first as an eighth-grader at Sudbrook where he was my math teacher, and again at Milford Mill where he taught me physics," said Steve K. Kasniof, a semi-retired Hagerstown businessman.
"I was a lousy student, but he saw potential in me. He changed my life. If it hadn't been for Mr. Hoover, I don't think I would have gone to college. He encouraged me," said Mr. Kasniof, who later became the founder of Allegheny Optical Co., which had 28 locations throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He has since sold the company but remains its president.
"I became very successful because of him," he said.
Dr. Robert J. Winebrenner, a Hagerstown dentist, was also a former student.
"One of the things I distinctly remember about Mr. Hoover was that he was a very kind teacher. He addressed the students with gentleness and kindness," said Dr. Winebrenner.
"Even though he was very academic, he presented the subject matter in an easy and understandable way. Obviously, he kept me involved in science throughout my life. He really was one of my favorite teachers," said Dr. Winebrenner.
"He was my teacher at Milford Mill as well as my wife's," said Ken Katzen, who retired from Howard County public schools, where he taught alternative education.
"He was such a great guy. He had the ability to teach people who were absolutely fascinated by physics, like me, and those who weren't, like my wife," said Mr. Katzen. "People liked him, and they were influenced by him."
Mr. Hoover also taught part time at the Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville and Howard Community College.
Mr. Hoover enjoyed attending class reunions.
"It was always good to see him at reunions," said Dr. Winebrenner.
The longtime Ellicott City resident was an inveterate biker, skier, bird watcher and golfer. He was also a canoeist and a member of the Monocacy Canoe Club.
"For 10 years, he rode his bike back and forth each day from Ellicott City to Randallstown Senior High School because I had the car, which I drove to school," his son, Dennis J. Hoover of Sykesville, said with a laugh. "This was back before bicycling became fashionable."
"My father was a character and because he was a big canoeist and kayaker, he always had one or the other tied to the roof of his car," his son said. "You could always spot his car in a parking lot."
Mr. Hoover also liked spending time at two cabins he and a sister owned in Canaan Valley, W.Va., before selling them several years ago.
Mr. Hoover had been a longtime active member of Bethany United Methodist Church, 2875 Bethany Lane, Ellicott City, where funeral services will be held at noon Wednesday.
In addition to his son, Mr. Hoover is survived by his wife of 62 years, the former Joann Nolan; five brothers, William Hoover, Philip Hoover and Jay Hoover, all of Newburg, Alan Hoover of Chambersburg, Pa., and Ned Hoover of Newville, Pa.; two sisters, Nancy Alexander and Kathryn Lauver, both of Chambersburg; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.