Photography: Robin Jerstad
What constitutes success? Is it having a successful career, or having a meaningful and loving relationship with your children? Is it feeling a phenomenal connection with God and having a servant-leadership attitude? Or is it having employees, colleagues, friends and family who love and respect you?
If you judge success by any or all of these, Col. Albert Abraham Lincoln Hockaday is an extremely successful person.
Upon meeting Hockaday, you are embraced by a power of humbleness and kindness. He epitomizes the culture that the world desperately needs. Hockaday is a gentle soul who has an aura of serenity around him.
He is modest beyond measure about his professional, spiritual and personal successes. He sits proudly in his dress blues, and as he speaks, the entire room lights up.
Hockaday is an honorably retired minister, a retired chaplain, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force and pastor emeritus at Air Force Village II Protestant Church, where he served for nine years.
He has a bachelor’s degree from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., master’s degrees in divinity and sacred theology from Yale University and a Master of Arts degree from Union Presbyterian Seminary.
His professional credentials are quite impressive. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1968 as an Air Force chaplain. He retired in November 1996 after more than 28 years as a pastor to the military and their families with the permanent rank of colonel.
His military decorations consist of two Legions of Merit, three Meritorious Service medals, three Air Force Commendation medals, a Vietnam Campaign medal and a Vietnam Service medal.
Outside of the military, he chose to continue his service to God, country and community in the Presbyterian Church. In 1989, he was awarded the Distinguished Churchman Award for his outstanding ministry by the Greater San Antonio Community of Churches.
In 1991, the Military Chaplains Association awarded him its Distinguished Service Award for excellence in chaplaincy and professionalism in ministry.
In 1996, the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel presented him with its Distinguished Chaplain Award for outstanding ministry and distinguished service to the nation.
In 2005, Shaw University awarded him its Distinguished Alumni Award for excellence in ministry.
Hockaday shares his “secrets of professional success”:
1. Faith: Have faith in God and life.
2. Family: This started with his parents and continued with his married family. He proudly speaks of how his soul mate, Hattie, walked together with him and made sacrifices for his career. She was pivotal in making their home the absolute best to raise their beautiful children, Abbe Denise, Daryl Kirk and Shawn Pierre. The children’s upbringing embodied a loving environment in which the love between parent and child was completely reciprocated.
3. Fortitude: His desire and willingness to be “solution oriented” made him well respected and admired. He leads by example. “If you have energy, use it on solutions, not problems,” he said.
4. Fortune: He acknowledges openly that his success was not his own, but a culmination of many. He attributes his accomplishments to his family, the church and the many teachers/mentors he had along the way. Hockaday created and shared “The Command Chaplain’s Philosophy and Expectations from A to Z” with his staff. He never left doubts about his expectations for his staff and himself. Although he used this leadership and administrative “tool” as the command chaplain of Air Mobility Command and the command chaplain of Air University, he also used it when he was the commandant of the USAF Chaplain School/Chaplain Service Institute and the wing chaplain at Randolph Air Force Base.
Hockaday prides himself on his integrity, humble confidence and easygoing personality. He epitomizes a person who’s comfortable in his own skin.
He explained he was inspired by his fathers’ strength, and he credits his father with his easygoing style and confidence.
Yes, Hockaday graduated from Yale University on a Rockefeller scholarship he earned, but his childhood was not one of privilege. Hockaday was the third child of four born into poverty. Growing up, he went to school two days a week, and the other three days, he worked picking cotton and shaking peanuts.
His family of six lived in a two-room house with no running water or electricity. His means of light for studying was an oil lamp.
Hockaday learned about getting satisfaction from within. No matter what hand he was dealt in life, he was capable of accomplishing anything he set out to do.
He gives much credit to his mother for consistently reminding him of what a Hockaday represents. “She would say, ‘We may not be rich, but we are Hockadays. Always remember what that means,’” he said.
What it meant was that honesty, integrity, courage and determination were above all. They had no need to lie, cheat or steal; they were Hockadays. This message was so ingrained in Hockaday that he and his siblings – William, Susie and Alice – live by it to this day.
He has raised his family with the same intensity and credo. His children have a respect and love for family. They are without a doubt his proudest accomplishments.
When asked what accomplishment means the most to him, he said without hesitation, “My wife and children. Being a responsible husband and parent makes me the proudest. There isn’t training for that. I got a birthday card once that said, ‘There is no dad like you!’”
He was brimming with pride. His face could have made anyone want to be a better parent. Hockaday knows the true meaning of what it is to be a Hockaday. He has undoubtedly made his mother proud!
Hockaday and his wife now reside at Independence Village, a neighborhood of homes at Independence Hill Retirement Resort Community.
“Since Independence Village maintains the residences, grounds and landscape, I can now do other enjoyable things,” Hockaday said. “When I do my two-mile walks, I admire the freshly cut and well-manicured lawns and ‘smell the roses.’
“It is a beautiful place to live, and when I stop at the clubhouse for a refreshing cool drink, I think of the words of George Gershwin: ‘Who could ask for anything more?’”
Independence Hill is located at 20450 Huebner Road. To schedule a tour, or to learn more about Independence Hill, call 210-615-4000.