Joe Hodges: remarks by Erich Lehmann

Joe Hodges: remarks by Erich Lehmann

In Memory of Joe Hodges

Erich Lehmann's Comments at Joe Hodges 50th Wedding Anniversary

For Joe and Teddy

When Nancy suggested "a personal note of memories" for this wonderful occasion, she may not have realized what a floodgate she was opening for me. Because in my case these memories go back 55 years to when Joe and I first met on the steps of Wheeler Hall.

We worked together as graduate students and then, during World War II, found ourselves sharing a tent on Guam as Operations Analysts for the 20th Air Force. We were lucky--because the greatest danger we faced during our year there was riding in a jeep on an unfinished runway with a drunk driver (our section chief) who wanted to see whether we could take off.

One of our recreations on Guam was to sing and whistle Beethoven Quartets, of which we had the score. Some years later, reminiscing about the war back in Berkeley at a celebratory lunch at Trader Vic's, we softly (at least so I thought) hummed one of these tunes only to be told sternly by the Maitre d', "Choir practice only on Sundays!" But perhaps reminiscing about reminiscing is going a bit too far.

After the war, Joe and Teddy met in Washington, and until she could join him Joe stayed with Susanne and me at 40 Oakridge Road. This period ended with the event of which we are now celebrating the 50th anniversary. Gradually our children arrived. I was honored to be asked to be godfather to Eleanor. Over the years, I also met both Joe's and Teddy's parents and was invited to so many family gatherings that I felt part of the extended Hodges family.

After obtaining our degrees, Joe and I began to work together, with much of our work being done on hikes through the Berkeley hills. On these occasions we talked not only statistics but also discussed politics, books, music.... and sometimes composed limericks. For one of these efforts we challenged ourselves to make up one on our hard-to-rhyme colleague Siegfried Neustadter. This resulted in:

A student named Siegried Neustadter
Lost all his pertinent data.

He thus could not cram
For his final exam,

Which exam was crammed full with errata.

During the summer of 1950 we took a memorable several-day hike in Yosemite together with Charles Stein and Abraham Wald. The first day we climbed from the valley floor to May Lake, a distance of about 20 miles with a rise of nearly 6000 feet. I don't think I ever quite duplicated that effort.

The success of our budding careers led to our appointments in the 1950's and early 1960's, each to a three-year period as Editor of the prestigious Annals of Mathematical Statistics. We served as each other's principal Associate Editor and troubleshooter. This mutual assistance greatly eased the strain of the job.

This was also the time during which Joe and I wrote our joint book, an introductory text called ``Basic Concepts of Probability and Statistics". We heatedly argued about each section until we thought we had it just right. Then Joe took his notes home to write a first draft. When he showed it to me the next day, it often bore little resemblance to what we had agreed on. ``Sorry", Joe would explain, ``but my pen has a will of its own." We would then re-argue the issues, but in the end Joe's stronger convictions usually prevailed. Unfortunately, we published the book with Holden-Day whose President, Fred Murphy, mismanaged the Company and after a while stopped paying royalties to his authors. Not surprisingly, the firm eventually had to declare bankruptcy, and the book went out of print. However, during its lifetime it sold more than 30,000 copies and was translated into Danish, Italian, Hebrew, and -- very surprisingly -- quite recently into Farsi.

By the early 1970's Joe and I had published 18 joint papers, one of which united our names in the statistical literature. The Hodges-Lehmann estimator is an entry in the statistical encyclopedia, it is discussed in many statistical textbooks, and it continues to be the subject of research. But then our careers began to go in different directions, as Joe became more and more involved in high-level administration, first on the Campus and Statewide Budget Committees, and then as advisor to the Chancellor and the President of the University. The center of gravity of Joe's work moved away from the statistics department, and we saw less of each other professionally. Of course, this did not affect our friendship, which soon included Julie, whom I met at about that time.

"Hodges-Lehmann" -- it's not only a statistical concept but a central part of my whole adult life to which I think back in appreciation and with gratitude.

Joe and Teddy, thanks for everything, all good wishes and love from us both.

--Erich Lehmann