J. David Hoggard, Sr. fell in love with Las Vegas during a short stint at Nellis Air Force Base (formerly known as the Las Vegas Army Air Corps Gunnery School) toward the end of World War II, and went on to play an important role in the police department and the community.
Hoggard hailed from New Jersey, where his childhood had been one of happiness with few, if any, conflicts based on race. Church services were the only venues in which there was separation along racial lines. That ended in his sophomore year of high school when his family moved to Hackensack, New Jersey, where blacks were only allowed in the YMCA on certain days, denied service in certain restaurants, and seated separately in movie theatres. The saving grace was that the tax dollars for schools were not divided between two separate school systems; the primary and secondary schools were integrated.
When Hoggard completed high school, the country was in the throes of the Depression, so he toiled at a number of jobs to support his new bride. He worked as a soda jerk, delivered bundles of black newspapers to local paper boys, passed the post office examination, and acquired a part time position as a postal employee. Eventually, like so many other young Americans, he joined the military.
When the war ended, Hoggard returned to New Jersey to prepare his family for the move to Las Vegas. In the whirl of excitement, his wife became ill and passed away. A few months later, in August 1946, Hoggard and his two sons, ages eight and eleven, drove cross-country to Las Vegas to start a new life.
Immediately, he met Herman Moody, the first black police officer in Las Vegas, and soon secured a position on the police force, just a few months after Moody's employment. Hoggard was assigned to patrol the Westside community, which was composed of whites, blacks, and Latinos. Blacks made up about fifty percent of the population, while the other half was about evenly split between white and Mexican American families.
After three years as a policeman, Hoggard operated a gas station at Adams and E Streets, became district manager for the Las Vegas Review- Journal's home delivery department, engaged in masonry work, and worked as a school attendance officer.
Then he entered the career that transformed him into a community leader who was involved in civil rights activities, neighborhood improvement, and civic responsibilities. Elaine Walbrook had moved to Las Vegas and introduced the idea of a federal initiative that could establish an agency to become a carrier of federal funds under the federal Anti-Poverty Program. That Las Vegas entity became the Economic Opportunity Board (EOB). Hoggard went to work there in 1965 as the fifth staff member hired.
EOB became the largest non-profit agency in the city, and in July 1967, Hoggard began his tenure as executive director. He was instrumental in acquiring funding for the popular Concentrated Employment Program (CEP), which taught the rudiments of many professions related to the gaming industry. The program drew negative national attention because critics assumed that taxpayer dollars were being used to teach people to gamble. Actually, the program trained enrollees to become dealers, cocktail waitresses, front desk clerks, and other trades for employment in the city's leading industry. The instructors included Clarence Ray, Q. B. Bush, and Calvin Washington. Hoggard was politically astute enough to engage then-Governor Mike O'Callaghan as commencement speaker to that first class of graduates who were surrounded by controversy.
Hoggard considered EOB's association with the Head Start Program one of the agency's most stable, productive enterprises. The many other ventures that originated and prospered under his reign as EOB executive director were the establishment of the county's first senior citizen center, the Foster Grandparent Program, the Family Planning and Health Care Program, the Weatherization and Transportation Project, and a Rape Crisis Program operated by Florence McClure, which spun off into an independent entity, just as Head Start had done.
Hoggard's volunteer work in the community was just as impressive. He served as the president of the local branch of the NAACP in the mid-1950s. He believed that the preparations made by the branch under his leadership positioned the organization for the integration push of the 1960s. His executive board represented much of the diversity of the Las Vegas community, and included white men as well as a Jewish rabbi, both black and white females, and workers from all economic strata. During the administration of the next president, Dr. James McMillan, Hoggard worked closely with him, going to legislative sessions in Carson City, meetings with the Reno branch of the NAACP, and conducting negotiations with Las Vegas city officials.
The lengthy list of Hoggard's civic, social, fraternal, and political affiliations includes the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, the Las Vegas Savings and Loan Association Board of Directors, Urban Developers, Inc., and the Welfare Rights Organization. He held positions as both board member and Secretary-Treasurer of Operation Independence. He worked with the National Association of Community Developers, the Southern Nevada Personnel Association, Nevada CAP Directors Association, and the Parent-Teachers Association. Hoggard was an American Legion Commander, a Boy Scouts of America committee chairman and council representative, a Westside Federal Credit Union board member, a member of the Citizens State Bank board of directors, a Clark County Mental Health Association executive board member, a member of the Clark County Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Nevada State Democratic Central Committee.
Various mayors appointed Hoggard to the Special Mayor's Zaugg Tract Committee (1950), the Urban Renewal Area Advisory Committee (1957–1961), the Mayor's Committee for Equal Job Opportunity (1963-1965), the Southern Nevada Human Relations Commission (1961), the Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Civic Improvement (1963), and the Las Vegas Board of Zoning Adjustment (appointed in 1962, becoming chairman in 1967).
J. David Hoggard died on August 8, 2001 after serving his adopted hometown, Las Vegas, with years of dedicated service. His wife, Mabel Hoggard, is a longtime community activist, and his son, J. David, Jr., is a longtime local college administrator.
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