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Readers pay tribute to Dr. Hoeh
(Part 1 of 3)
The Nov. 31, 2004 issue of The Journal invited readers to send in brief letters and essays about WCG elder, writer, historian and long-time member Herman Hoeh, who died Nov. 21 at his home in Tujunga, Calif.  These essays about one of the Church of God's most unforgettable characters appear in this article.
Readers will notice a thread running through the comments about Dr. Hoeh: He was unpretentious and approachable and, though oftentimes soft-spoken, he was candid and forthright.  He could also be humorous, sometimes intentionally, sometimes maybe not.
Here now are some little-known tales of Dr. Hoeh, including the story of Bill Glover teaching him to drive.

Read Part 2 | Read Part 3

Herman Hoeh was one of the WCG's most unforgettable

BIG SANDY, Texas--Herman L. Hoeh was a memorable member of the Worldwide Church of God who died unexpectedly Nov. 21 at his home in Tujunga, Calif.

Dr. Hoeh, 75, was an evangelist-ranked minister of the WCG and a pioneer student at Ambassador College, a member of the first class of four freshmen at AC in Pasadena, Calif., in 1947. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1951 and his doctor's in 1963, both from Ambassador.

He held many positions in the WCG over the years, including membership on the boards of directors of the church and college, and as a writer and editor for the church's publications and an AC faculty member.

But he was best known for his approachability, demeanor, generosity and considered opinions and advice.

Not surprisingly, many people have recently reduced to paper their memories of Dr. Hoeh. Tributes and remembrances have appeared over the past few weeks in publications and on Web sites.

The following little essays are contributed by readers of The Journal.

(See also "Family and Friends Mourn Loss of Herman Hoeh, Pioneer at AC and Worldwide Church of God," The Journal, Nov. 30.)


Memorable human being

LAVACA, Ark.--It is certainly not a profound observation to note the passing of time and sometimes the rapidity with which it passes. Such passing, however, does bring disappointment and sadness as we lose those who made a difference in our lives.

In the past two years several of the ones I knew and with whom I worked in the '60s and '70s in Pasadena have died, including Garner Ted Armstrong, Floyd Lochner, Jim Ackley, Berlin Guillory and Herman Hoeh. I am pleased that this issue of The Journal is carrying comments and eulogies about Dr. Herman Hoeh.

In late December 1964 I visited the Pasadena campus of Ambassador College. I toured the campus and visited with several persons including Dibar Apartian and Herman Hoeh.

Dr. Hoeh encouraged me to apply to attend and, upon learning that I was a teacher, told me about Imperial Schools, of which I knew nothing.

Then he escorted me down the hill to the new gymnasium and into the office of Floyd Lochner, who was superintendent. We discussed my moving to California, attending Ambassador College and teaching at Imperial Schools on a part-time basis.

After climbing back up the hill, Dr. Hoeh and I stood outside in the mild December climate of Pasadena and chatted about a number of topics. He was, and remained, an impressive person, so impressive in fact that when he walked with me to my car and wished me a safe trip back to Arizona I simply drove away and completely forgot my appointment with Kenneth Herrmann, who was registrar.

Dr. Hoeh was an important part of the first week of activities that I am sure every student will remember: orientation, a trip to the beach, Bible study and Sabbath services and other events with common or personal significance.

Then there were Dr. Hoeh's classes, sermons and the assemblies and forums in which he participated.

There were also numerous stories by students about Dr. Hoeh and his classes and other interesting and amusing facets of his life. Not one of these was denigrating or suggested anything malicious: a tribute in itself to a human being already memorable to those who knew him.

The second year I began teaching a class or two in the college and encountered Dr. Hoeh many times on campus. In college activities involving students in classes or casual meetings on campus, in his section of Ambassador Club, in his working with the faculty, or whatever and wherever, Dr. Hoeh was an intriguing individual with an interest in almost everything.

I found him to have a sense of humor, and, although he was direct and candid in his comments, he was a fair and humble person.

Perhaps his heavy load of responsibilities in so many areas precluded his engaging in more-trivial conversation. Perhaps it was because his wide range of interests and related learning had expanded his horizons until he was so aware of so much to be known that he chose not to waste time.

Dr. Hoeh was there for the oral defense of my dissertation and activities related to finishing my doctorate at USC in the spring of 1971.

Shortly thereafter he made the announcement in a large assembly that I was now Dr. Price and then dropped a bombshell in my life. He said that he and I would leave after the academic year ended that spring to travel to Thailand to meet Herbert Armstrong and report to him after we had explored the situation involving the hill tribes and the king's concern about them and related problems in that part of his country.

It was an amazing trip and an occasion to see Dr. Hoeh in many situations and better understand both the human and the professional person he was.

He was an energetic, keenly aware and caring person whether in Bangkok or out in the hills north of Chiang Mai, where several of us, including a Thai prince and his guard, Dr. Hoeh, Ron Dart, Dale Schurter and I, walked from one village to another noting various attempts at hillside farming, some poppy fields and the denuded forestland and resultant erosion.

His contributions about possible solutions regarding these items and the establishment of schools in the villages were relevant and important.

In the eight years I was in Pasadena, our lives were interconnected in many ways. That time was an opportunity to know a remarkable individual who was intelligent, personable and distinctive in his ways. He shall be long remembered by any of those who knew him. I wish the best for his family. John Price.

Dr. Herman Hoeh
RECENT DR. HOEH—This photo appeared on the cover of the November WCG Today (formerly The Worldwide News) shortly after Dr. Hoeh’s death.
[Photo courtesy Worldwide Church of God]

Notes from Dr. Hoeh's sermons

SYDNEY, Australia--I have some handwritten notes from three sermons by Herman L. Hoeh that may be of some interest:

  • The Church of God (Seventh Day) "was the primary instrument in this country [the United States] to establish the conscientious-objector status of those who sought to live in peace on either side in the Civil War.

    "The Church of God, in the person of Andrew Dugger, presented in the time of the First World War the petition of the Church to remain free of obligation of killing one's neighbor" (Dr. Hoeh's message at Herbert W. Armstrong's grave Jan. 19, 1986, from a Worldwide Church of God coworker letter).

  • "Today Dugger's daughter is a member of the Worldwide Church of God" (from a sermon given by Dr. Hoeh at the Feast of Tabernacles in Thailand Sept. 24, 1988).

  • "In the 1500s and 1600s the Church of God announced the seventh day. But in 1831 God used William Miller to announce the Second Coming [another example of God working in mysterious ways--Craig]. Others from Protestant denominations supported him. They learned of the Sabbath in 1846.

    "They were generally called the Churches of Christ after the Seventh Day Baptists incorporated in 1802 [I shall have to listen to this again as I don't see any connection]. Essentially they were not doing the Work. Miller had no connection with them" (from a sermon by Dr. Hoeh Jan. 27, 1990). Craig White.

Never an unkind word

PASADENA, Calif. -- Herman Hoeh's life touched many others' and, like most, our family has many positive memories of him.

One of my early memories was of watching him traversing the grounds at the Feast of Tabernacles in Big Sandy, Texas, during the late '50s. On the way between the "new tabernacle" where services were held and the "old tabernacle" dining hall, he picked up trash and deposited it into a proper receptacle.

That pretty well represented the way he was and remained throughout life.

Though an evangelist, he was a humble man, not above the common people, and always lent a hand in what needed to be done. Always polite and charming, he would greet people with a cheery "My name is Herman Hoeh. How are you?"

He never failed to ask how my wife, Peggy, was. I never heard an unkind word come from his mouth about anyone.

As a student at the Pasadena campus of Ambassador College between 1958 and 1961, I had the opportunity to attend his classes in Bible and world history.

Although they were occasionally difficult to comprehend, nevertheless they opened new vistas of knowledge to his students. He enriched our awareness and appreciation of the past as well as current events.

He frequently invited interested students to his house for forums and informal discussions. He and Isabell were gracious hosts and always made us feel at home. He freely answered all questions, as cryptic as those answers may have been.

I recall that a final project for Dr. Hoeh's world-history students of 1961 was to produce a chart of the Egyptian pharaohs according to his reconstruction of history, a seemingly daunting task.

But then he added, "The only thing I ask is that they not all be identical, so that if I hold any two up to the light they will not coincide."

His "reconstruction of history" was published in 1962 as a two-volume Compendium of World History, which was his doctoral dissertation at Ambassador College.

Later, perhaps in the late '70s, he came to see that much of his reconstruction was wrong, and he publicly so stated.

It says a lot about Herman Hoeh that he had the intellectual honesty to repudiate a large portion of his life work including his Ph.D. dissertation.

His sermons, though occasionally difficult to understand, were always interesting. No one ever dozed off while he was speaking.

Growing up on a chicken farm near Santa Rosa, Calif., in a German-American family undoubtedly contributed to shaping Herman Hoeh as a man who never lost his connection to common folks who preferred to live close to the earth and who epitomized the work ethic.

Another early influence was present. On more than one occasion his students heard him explain that he was brought up on "the milk of the socialist word."

Students understood this to mean national socialism (Nazism).

Perhaps in reaction against that early teaching he always leaned over backward to show his opposition to Nazism. This may have contributed to the Radio/Worldwide Church of God's proclivity during the '50s and '60s to look for a fascist under every bed. The church's perspective on biblical prophecy had a lot to do with this as well.

The '50s and '60s seemed to spawn a mind-set of a separation between "us and the world" in RCG/WCG circles. That mentality was conspicuously absent in Herman Hoeh. He consistently made contact with many individuals of varied backgrounds and different perspectives, building bridges across professional, denominational, religious, national and ethnic lines.

One was Rabbi Zvi Ankori, who did his doctoral dissertation on the interpenetration of Judaism and one of the pagan philosophies encountered anciently by the Jews.

Dr. Hoeh invited Dr. Ankori into his home for an informal discussion with his students. I felt it to be an honor to be one of those invited. Dr. Ankori went on to become a well-known author on Jewish issues.

Another was Jean Pierre Hallet, the Belgian anthropologist and humanitarian who publicized the plight of the pygmies in the Congo. He was author of Pygmy Kitabu.

I saw him on several occasions at fund-raisers to help the pygmies. He always voiced his appreciation for Dr. Hoeh's help with printing a brochure on the pygmies and fund-raising assistance for the Pygmy Project.

Another contact was with a Swedish-born biochemist and visionary, Dr. Eric Eweson. A pioneer in composting and waste management from the 1940s, Dr. Eweson's expertise led to the construction and installation of the "Eweson Digester" on the Big Sandy campus, which turned garbage and other waste into fertilizer.

Dr. Eweson's talk before an Ambassador student assembly opened my eyes to the potentialities of composting and the desirability of organic farming.

Another well-respected personality, a dentist named Dr. Royal Lee, imparted much useful information at a student assembly on health and nutrition. His company, Standard Process Laboratories, is a producer of high-quality nutritional supplements.

Many more contacts could be cited from various fields including historians, archaeologists and writers. Many people have benefited from the associates of Herman Hoeh.

Herman Hoeh often spoke of his friendship with John Weidner, a Seventh-day Adventist who owned two health-food stores in Pasadena. He affectionately called him "his best friend in the world."

Mr. Weidner, a Belgian, shared some of his World War II experiences at an Ambassador student assembly. He was one of the many who rescued Jews during the Nazi occupation of France.

Wanting the best foods for his family, Dr. Hoeh would frequently shop at Weidner's Health Foods. One time my wife, Peggy, was there while he was shopping. After paying, he told the sales lady to "keep the change," throwing the sales staff into turmoil. They did not know how to handle that. Everyone agreed that Herman Hoeh was a generous man.

During the late '60s the Hoehs moved from their South Orange Grove house in Pasadena to La Canada. A few years later they purchased two houses in Tujunga, one house for them and one for his library. He wanted as much as possible to return to his roots so he could have a garden and keep goats.

After moving to Sunland, my wife and I gave the Hoehs an old refrigerator in which to keep their garden produce and goat milk. After we delivered it in our pickup truck, he stated, "You have treated us well, and now I have a treat for you."

He treated both of us to a refreshing glass of cold goat milk.

I spoke by phone with Herman Hoeh about a month before he died. His mind was as sharp as ever. We chatted about many things. At first I hesitated to mention my years of research into the meaning for the Christian of the feast days. Personal theological research by a layperson was once frowned upon.

I did mention that I had felt for many years that there was much more meaning there than the WCG had uncovered.

He reacted favorably. I then said that my research was aided by several books on the feast days including one that predated Herbert Armstrong's booklet. Dr. Hoeh asked who wrote it, and I told him the author was Louis Talbot.

He replied that he used to listen to him on the radio during the 1940s and wanted to know if he had any good insights as to their meaning.

I answered that he had. Anyway, this shows that he was open-minded toward new ideas.

My wife and I feel privileged to have known Herman L. Hoeh. He was a genuinely caring, remarkably multifaceted individual. Our lives were enriched by his, and he will be missed. Robert Macdonald.

Smart and witty

MURRIETA, Calif.--I first met Dr. Hoeh in November 1948. He was one of the four students who had enrolled in Ambassador College in 1947, during its first year of existence. (The other three were Dick Armstrong, Raymond Cole and Miss Betty Bates.)

My first contact with Dr. Hoeh was in the autumn of 1948 (the second year of AC) when my brother Marion and I entered AC.

Besides my brother and myself, Kenneth Herrman also enrolled that same year. This meant that seven students were enrolled in AC during its second year: quite an increase in enrollment!

From the beginning it was clear to me (and I think this was also true of the other six students in AC) that Herman Hoeh was quite a scholar. In ensuing years Herman (this was before he became "Dr." Hoeh) became known as "the brain," for he was not only scholarly but he had a special interest in, and a zeal for, research, in the area of history in particular.

He was never really interested that much in sports. That just wasn't his cup of tea.

Later Dr. Hoeh's interest in history showed itself in his work The Compendium, in two volumes, which gave many details of the origins and movements of various peoples from the time of the Tower of Babel until modern times.

Through past decades many students and members of the Church of God have found his research into history (especially regarding the origins of various peoples) to be of interest and value.

In recent years he made it known that he no longer endorsed all of the conclusions, especially his historical dates, that he had incorporated into his Compendium. Nevertheless, I am sure that many of the brethren and ministers still find certain areas of his historical research helpful in understanding the racial origins of certain nations, and, consequently, we can better understand certain end-time prophecies dealing with various descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth.

I found Dr. Hoeh to be friendly, courteous and, at times, rather witty.

He became known for his generosity in assisting some of the needy students or church brethren, often offering assistance anonymously.

He spent much time and energy in the '50s, '60s, '70s, etc., helping to edit The Plain Truth, The Good News, WCG booklets, etc.

I always looked upon him as valuable to the Work as an editor, and this was especially so in the areas of his particular expertise: history, archaeology, paleontology, etc.

Although I often spoke to Dr. Hoeh through the years, in more recent years (after I left the WCG in 1993) I did not have much contact with him. He would write or phone me from time to time, and I did the same. But during the last few years I had little contact with him.

So far as I know he continued to work with the men at headquarters during these times, apparently feeling that, for personal reasons, he did not need to sever his relationship with the leaders of the WCG because of the sweeping doctrinal changes that the church leaders were making at Pasadena.

He seemed to want to maintain cordial relations with people in the various Churches of God (including many of the church leaders) and would discuss various matters with some of them from time to time.

He also had close ties with some of the leaders of the Buddhist faith.

I also have known Mrs. Isabell Hoeh (Dr. Hoeh's wife for about 50 years) since her arrival at AC in, I believe, the third year of the college's existence.

Isabell was a fine student and also proved herself to be a loyal, steady, supportive wife during their many years of married life. I am sure all who met Mrs. Hoeh will remember her in their prayers in the years ahead, asking God to bless and guide her through the difficult times that she will experience without her husband by her side. Raymond F. McNair.

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