William G. ‘Hotzie’ Hotz Sr., Navy veteran and Baltimore Sun photographer known for his versatility, dies

William G. "Hotzie" Hotz Sr. enjoyed riding his Harley and boating.

William G. ”Hotzie” Hotz Sr., a Baltimore Sun photographer and Navy veteran who enjoyed riding his Harley and boating, died from complications of a fall May 18 at his home in Berlin, Worcester County. The former Middle River resident was 85.

“Bill was a quiet fellow and a consummate professional,” Robert K. Hamilton, former Baltimore Sun photo director, wrote in an email. “When I came to The Sun he was one of the members of the photo staff who took me under his wing and showed me the ropes and what it took to be a photographer at a major paper.”


“Bill was a class act and never seemed to get rattled by any situation, and if anything started to go wrong, he was always there to smooth things over,” Jed Kirschbaum, who joined The Sun’s photo department in 1978, said.

“He was an excellent photographer. I remember it was (baseball manager) Earl Weaver’s last game, and Bill took a picture of him sitting in the Orioles dugout wiping away a tear,” Mr. Kirschbaum, who retired in 2011, said.


“I remember Hotzie telling me that being a news photographer was the ‘greatest job in the world,’” Barbara Haddock Taylor, who has been a Sun staff photographer for the past 29 years, said.

“I was a young kid and he was so welcoming. I admired his work as a young photographer and looked up to him,” she said. “He was an all-purpose photographer. He could shoot anything and would go anywhere.”

“Bill did a good job, the same as everyone else in the department,” Walter McCardell, who spent 47 years as a Sun photographer before retiring in 1991, said.

William George Hotz, son of William August Hotz, a builder and construction worker, and Clara May Smith Hotz, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Fullerton.

After graduating from Kenwood High School in 1955, Mr. Hotz served with a Naval Construction Battalions unit, better known as Seabees, before being discharged in 1957.

He then went to work as a photographer for Bendix Radio Corp. on East Joppa Road in Towson, where he remained until joining the photo department of what was then called The Sunpapers in 1966.

One of his early assignments was covering the Baltimore Riots of 1968, which erupted in the wake of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“When the riots came on a Saturday night, we were on the streets together covering the fires that had been set and the looting,” recalled Mr. McCardell.


Known for his photographic versatility and flexibility, Mr. Hotz handled general assignments and portraiture with the same aplomb as he did covering the Orioles, Colts, Clippers, Bullets and college sports.

Gifted with an easygoing demeanor and wide smile, Mr. Hotz was not the exact picture of sartorial elegance.

“My first memory of Hotz was when I got the job at The Sun and they let me know I looked disheveled. So, I went out and spent $300 on clothes, and when I walked into the photo department my first day, I was wearing a corduroy jacket when it was humid and 95 degrees outside,” said Mr. Kirschbaum.

“And then the first guy who walks through the door is Hotz dressed in a blue navy work shirt and wearing Tyrolean shorts. That’s when I decided they didn’t take this dress code thing too seriously,” he said with a laugh.

When the blizzard of 1979 buried the city and surrounding areas under 22 inches of snow, Messers. Hotz and Kirschbaum found themselves out on the street to record the monster storm.

“Bill had a four-wheel drive and we’re driving around downtown when I saw two guys robbing a laundromat,” Mr. Kirschbaum said. “I started to get out to take pictures and he restrained me, saying, ‘I don’t think you want to do that.’”


Assigned to the early shift at the paper, one of Mr. Hotz’s favorite photographic venues in the city was Federal Hill, and on a July morning in 1985 at 5:45 a.m., he aimed his camera from Key Highway toward the pagoda in Patterson Park, which was framed by the rising sun.

In 1986, it was selected as a Sunday Sun Best Picture Of The Year.

In an era before cellphones, press cars had radios, which editors used to keep in contact with reporters and photographers in the field.

It was Mr. Hotz’s encyclopedic knowledge of the city’s bars that rescued Mr. Kirschbaum one day.

“We used to frequent various bars around the city, and one day a radio call came sending me to South Baltimore for a sudden news assignment, and I had no map,” Mr. Kirschbaum recalled.

“Hotz came on the radio and said, ‘You go down Light Street past Regi’s, you know where Regi’s is, and when you get to this bar make a left, and at the next bar, go right.’ I got to the news event because of his various bars,” he said, with a laugh. “The editors in the newsroom could hear all of this going on and God knows what they thought.”


“Hotzie had a great wry sense of humor, but he was always a gentleman,” Ms. Taylor said. “He was always laughing, had a lot of fun, and always had kind words for people.”

“I remember him bringing in a rockfish and putting it in the steel wash basin outside of the darkroom for photos when I was a kid,” said Sun researcher Paul McCardell, who used to accompany his father, Walter McCardell, to work.

It was Ms. Taylor who gave him the nickname of “Hotzie.”

“When he’d come into the office, I’d say, ‘Ho, Ho, Hotzie’ and he credited me with that,” a chorus that was eventually picked up by the other photographers, she said.

The Morning Sun


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After his 1957 marriage to Ruth Elizabeth Messick, the couple moved into a house on India Avenue in Perry Hall, that he and his father had built. They eventually divorced.

An avid boater, in 1978 he moved to a home overlooking the bay in Middle River that he rehabbed, and after retiring from the newspaper in 1994, moved to Berlin, which “allowed him easy access to both the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean,” said a son, William G. Hotz Jr. of Abingdon.


In addition to spending time on the water, Mr. Hotz in his retirement purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and toured the country.

In 1971, he married Victoria Lynn Ei, a registered nurse.

Mr. Hotz was a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Ocean City.

A celebration-of-life-gathering will be held at noon June 24 at Stevenson United Methodist Church, 123 N. Main St., Berlin.

In addition to his wife of 52 years and son, Mr. Hotz is survived by another son, John Gilbert Hotz of Sparks; a daughter, Sue Lynn Mackay of Sparks; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.