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Readers pay tribute to Dr. Hoeh
(Part 2 of 3)
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Note about the 'Compendium'

VALLEY SPRINGS, Calif.--The last conversation I had with Dr. Hoeh was after we were forced to go on our own as a separate corporate church in order to fully follow the doctrinal teachings we had been taught by Mr. Armstrong.

I called and told Dr. Hoeh that I wanted to let him know what I was doing. He replied by saying he would pray for me. It was short but a cordial conversation.

He and I had a close relationship from mid-1953 through the years. In the early '50s he did not know how to drive an automobile, so I often drove him here and there. I learned a great deal from his very knowledgeable mind. Unlike many of us, he was always thinking in a constructive manner.

One Sabbath in the mid-'50s I drove him from Pasadena to San Diego to give a sermon. He sat alongside of me on the passenger side with his head down much of the way. Later I learned that during that drive he was able to determine the present location of the tribes of Israel.

After arriving at a church location he would often ask the pastor what sermon topic the members needed. One pastor said to him, "You mean you are not prepared?" He responded by saying, "I know my Bible."

After presenting his part during a ministerial-refresher course in Pasadena, he was asked by one of the ministers if he could have a copy of his transcript.

Dr. Hoeh looked puzzled. Another minister replied to the question by saying, "He does not have a transcript."


And he didn't. He was one of the few speakers who could speak clearly and concisely on any subject that he felt the need to speak about or on any subject that was required at the time.

Because of his speaking ability he was chosen by Herbert W. Armstrong to speak at the funeral of Mrs. Loma Armstrong. Joseph Tkach also chose him to officiate at the funeral of Mr. Armstrong.

I want to add that, contrary to what some have mistakenly said about Dr. Hoeh's many errors supposedly to be found in Vols. I and II of the Compendium and that he needed to upgrade them, this is not completely true.

One of our deacons here in Modesto wrote and asked about this some years ago. The letter was given by the Worldwide Church of God's letter-answering department to Dr. Hoeh to answer.

He replied to the question in a written note at the bottom of the letter the following (the deacon still has this in his possession and will give me a copy of it):

"There were some basic assumptions made based on Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons," Dr. Hoeh wrote."The Church assumed that all languages arose at Babel for the first time. Since Old Kingdom Egypt & Early Dynastic Mesopotamia record different languages, we assumed all their records were post-flood. But it is now clear that archaeology disproved such a reconstruction.

"Deut. 32:8 reveals God divided the world up among the sons of Adam. This is not possible without also giving the children of Adam different languages to keep them separate. So Gen. 11 is showing a brief time after the Flood when Noah's family spoke one tongue as distinct from what had been before, not distinct from what was now about to happen.

"Compare Gen. 1:2 with Gen. 11:1. So dates for Egypt, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Hittites, archaeology & geology have to be corrected."

He signed his name, "Herman L. Hoeh."

One last thing: Dr. Hoeh was a very giving person. I was one of the recipients of his giving in those early years when times were rather hard and we had little money.

His giving was known by others as well. When Richard D. Armstrong and I began driving away from Pasadena on our baptizing tour in 1958, he made the following comment to me: "We need to be more giving like Herman Hoeh."

Though I could write many things about Dr. Hoeh, this is enough to show the brilliant mind God graced him with as well as that he was a very giving man.

I am truly saddened by his death, for he was not only my mentor in those early formative years but also my friend. We spent many, many hours together, and I learned much from him.

In regard to our close relationship, a man once asked him in my presence if he did not feel that his closeness to me could be a problem in regard to respect for his office.

He replied in words to this effect: "If there should be a problem, Mr. Billingsley knows the office I have and would respect it."

And he spoke the truth. Don Billingsley.

THE HOEHS—Left: Newlyweds Herman and Isabell Hoeh in 1952. Right: Under this photo in an AC yearbook from 1959, Herman Hoeh is listed as dean of the college, professor of history and German, associate professor of theology, managing editor of The Plain Truth and The Good News and sponsor of the German Club.
[Photo courtesy Vic Kubik; Envoy photo]

Many happy returns

GILMER, Texas--One memory I have of the legendary Dr. Hoeh is stories I heard in the 1980s from a high-ranking member of the WCG's accounting department.

Dr. Hoeh had a reputation in the church as an intelligent yet still humble, unassuming man of God.

This image was only reinforced by the stories I heard from this church employee.

It seems that, every year after the Feast, Dr. Hoeh turned a major portion of his Feast bonus back in to the church. (As most members and former members of the church now know, not only did the WCG ministry not have to keep second tithe, ministers got it as a bonus at festival time.)

Dr. Hoeh, according to the employee I allude to here, was of note in this regard because he was virtually the only minister who ever turned unused money back in to the church after the Feast. Mac Overton.

Eclectic interests

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--From the moment I knew who he was, I had a fascination with Dr. Hoeh. I stood in awe of his eclectic interests.

As a teenager not yet attending church, I searched high and low to locate his legendary Compendium of World History.

When I finally tracked down a copy I was a bit disappointed that it was so hard to follow. Nevertheless it helped cultivate an interest in history that I retain to this day.

My first opportunity to meet Dr. Hoeh was in the spring of 1988, when he and his wife visited Raleigh, N.C., for the Days of Unleavened Bread. I had been attending church only a few short months, and to meet Dr. Hoeh was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

During the time I was in college in Big Sandy, Dr. Hoeh would visit the campus from time to time. I remember the extended announcement he made to inform us that Dr. Russell Duke had been named as Ambassador's sixth president.

We all sat there wondering when is he going to get to the point. But we knew that was Dr. Hoeh's style, even when it came to major announcements like this one.

It was a privilege to have him in the audience at our graduation in 1997, the final commencement conducted in Big Sandy. He had been there from the start in 1947, and now he was the only one from those earliest days to watch it draw to a close 50 years later.

What I'll treasure the most from graduation weekend was being able to introduce him to my parents and hear him tell them how he appreciated the contributions I had made to Ambassador.

Earlier this year I was in California for a work-related trip. I had not been to Pasadena in a few years and didn't know when I'd get another opportunity. I called Dr. Hoeh and asked if he'd be willing to meet for breakfast.

Even though we had met several times in the past, I had never had the opportunity to talk with him at length. Like so many other people, I'm sure, there were lots of things I wanted to ask him about.

He was open to getting together, and he took me to a small cafe in Altadena, not far from Mountain View Cemetery. We talked about a wide range of subjects: everything from the subject of my dissertation to Sabbatarian history in America, the AIDS crisis, the early years of Ambassador and many other things.

It was a privilege to see him one final time.

There were many things I learned from Dr. Hoeh. He certainly wasn't wasteful. I remember writing to him several times as a teenager. He would always write his response at the bottom of my letter and enclose it in Youth/81 envelopes (and this was 1987, as I remember!).

When we met for breakfast that morning in January, he looked across at my plate after I had finished and asked, "Are you going to eat that avocado?"

When I told him no, without warning he reached across the table with his fork and took it himself!

Perhaps most important, Dr. Hoeh knew how to be a peacemaker. He knew how to rise above conflict and disagreements, and what an important lesson we can all learn there.

In a few months I will complete my doctoral degree in educational administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When I think about all the people throughout my life who have influenced and inspired me to be where I am today, Dr. Hoeh stands near the top of the list. I hope I'll be able to pass on that influence to others. John Brian Heath, Ambassador University, Class of 1997.

Out of step

AUBURN, Wash.--Immediately upon hearing of the death of someone well known in your past, one's mind brings up a few highlights of your times together.

I remember the time in the summer of 1962 when Dr. Hoeh and I drove from Pasadena to Fresno to handle Sabbath services: he the sermon, me the sermonette.

After church we went out to eat with some of the brethren, and Dr. Hoeh ordered beef tongue and pressured me to share some of it. It was my first and last taste of the stuff.

We stayed overnight at some member's old farmhouse, and Dr. Hoeh and I had to share a double bed. (Sleeping with an evangelist: What a scandal!)

Dr. Hoeh was unassuming and mixed well with the common folk, and the local members all seemed to love him even if they couldn't understand his sermons. I fondly remember my conversations with him as always stimulating, educational and fun.

His church performances at Pasadena's Shakespeare Club were of keen interest to us students. When he wasn't speaking he was likely sleeping. He always brought a book to read when others were preaching, frequently dozing off and having a restful and enjoyable Sabbath.

I was envious. Instead, I had to pinch myself to stay awake, take zealous notes and frequently endure boring 30-scripture-flipping marathon sermons. It wasn't fair.

Dr. Hoeh's classes were among my favorites. For a few years his Compendium of World History was my constant companion.

JoAn found his classes and book pure tedium but received good grades from him nevertheless.

A time or two in the years following, the Hoehs invited JoAn and me to stay with them in their South Orange Grove Boulevard home during the annual ministerial conference.

They were gracious hosts, and Mrs. Hoeh was an excellent cook.

I remember Herman once saying he occasionally ate out of garbage cans to ready his stomach for his overseas trips, though I never saw him do it.

It was clear to everyone that Herman was out of step with the HQ brass in that style and status didn't seem too important to him. This meant that staying with the Hoehs was relaxing, like a little island oasis in the HQ shark pond.

He was a man of books and a creative thinker. In those early years he was the closest thing we had to a scholar. He was publicly loyal to the grand leader, even though I suspect he frequently but silently disagreed with policy and doctrine.

I think he should have taken stands, but apparently that wasn't his style. Some of his doctrinal and prophetical theories have proved erroneous in the march of time, but the same can be said of a lot of us.

Eccentric, quirky, odd, smart, humble, witty, kind: All are descriptions that fit Herman L. Hoeh. Kenneth Westby.

Chief historian to survey

FISH HOEK, South Africa--"In Memory of Dr. Herman L. Hoeh":

You were the Chief Historian in God's end-time Church,
A pioneer Ambassador College graduate,
One of the first five Evangelists; renowned for research.
Your measured words, HWA's mission corroborate.

You first recognized he was an Apostle; that these things
God said of him: "You must prophesy again before many
Peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
You helped him bring that about as much as any.

You showed modern Germany's ancient Assyrian roots,
Verified those prophecies of the latter-day Apostle
Who jostled Israel's American and British offshoots
To repent or face the coming Tribulation colossal.

Daniel's prophecy "that after 2,520 years
The Gentile Tree Stump would begin to grow," you
Surely foresaw, for that year Chancellor Helmut Kohl appeared
To repair German unity, starting Oct. 1, 1982.

Why did you remain with Pasadena when it went astray?
Did the great Falling Away From Truth cause you to sway?
Or did God keep you there as His historian to survey
And testify against the apostates, come Judgment Day?

Geoffrey R. Neilson

A great loss

SYDNEY, Australia--Dr. Hoeh's unexpected death was a great loss to his family and to the Church of God.

We know that he was faithful to the end and supportive of the truth throughout his life. For me he was special, and I greatly appreciated his spiritual approach, capacity and research.

I was impressed by his humility. Many are not aware that a number of truths came via him to Herbert W. Armstrong, truths that became part of the church's belief system.

Yet at no time did he exhibit ambition. I found this quality so admirable. His insights and bringing together information that enriched our biblical understanding were terrific.

As the Scriptures indicate, knowledge shall increase in the end time (Daniel 12:4). This is often accomplished by building on the understanding, knowledge and research of predecessors. Not only is raw knowledge increased, but so is qualitative value added to doctrine with deeper and more meaningful insights. This was a part of his capacity and the heritage he has left behind.

It was about 30 years ago that, as a school kid, I attempted to research the biblical origin of nations. Also, Noah's Flood, various laws, cremation, divorce and remarriage and many other topics were often discussed in my extended family because of our religious roots, thus leading to serious reading and debate.

But it was only about two years later that I began to make some progress in this research, given the basic information contained in Herman Hoeh's 1957 article "Truth About the Race Question." That basic framework was helpful in my further studies into the subject.

In letters and phone calls with him over the years, he came across as a kindly man, willing to listen and be helpful. His reputation as a peacemaker and avoider of confrontation was well known.

In 1996, for instance, he was very supportive of the Friends of the Sabbath conference held in Sydney and was rather excited by the whole concept. I shall never forget my conversations with him and the moral support he gave me on this and a number of other issues.

He will be sorely missed by thousands of Church of God folk. Yet we shall continue to maintain the approach and ongoing research of both him and Herbert Armstrong for as long as we live.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family as well as those who look forward to his research continuing in some form. Craig White.

Direct approach

PORTALES, N.M.--In the early 1970s I was a young employee of the Worldwide Church of God working on the financial side of Ambassador College with my good friend Bob Seelig.

Bob and I were driving down Colorado Boulevard when we saw Dr. Hoeh walking down the street. Bob said to me, "Pull over and let's give Dr. Hoeh a ride."

Dr. Hoeh took some convincing that riding with us was okay because he didn't want to impose. That was typical of his nature.

Then, immediately upon climbing into the back seat, Dr. Hoeh asked Bob a direct question about me, a new employee in a department dealing with the financial side of "the Work."

"Does this young man steal?" Dr. Hoeh asked Bob.

He didn't ask Bob if I was honest or a good guy; he asked him if I was a thief!

Bob relied, "No, he doesn't."

And Dr. Hoeh immediately said to me, "Well, don't let it go to your head."

From such a humble man the question wasn't offensive but provided insight into his direct manner of thinking.

His example of humility will be missed within the Church of God. Joe Kirkpatrick.

Lovable eccentric

BIG SANDY, Texas--My impressions of Herman Hoeh fall in line with the remembrances of many others. He was a nice guy and, as was mentioned in his obituary in The Journal in November, he was what you might call a lovable eccentric.

Here are three disconnected recollections I have of him from over the years.

I was a new Ambassador College student sitting in the audience in the big tent at the Feast of Tabernacles in Big Sandy in 1966 when Dr. Hoeh delivered his famous sermon on the Song of Solomon.

In that speech he didn't toe the line that the book presents a grand analogy of Christ and His relationship with the church. Rather, Dr. Hoeh expounded it as if it were a manual of the proper intimate behavior for a newly married couple on their wedding night.

That approach proved a bit intense for the elderly couple sitting immediately in front of me, who stood up and stormed out in apparent amazement and disapproval.

Around 1975 I accompanied Worldwide News managing editor John Robinson on a trip from Big Sandy to Pasadena, and one of the items on our agenda was to have lunch with Dr. Hoeh.

We rode to a health-food restaurant in Dr. Hoeh's tiny, old car; I don't remember the make. I sat in the front seat with him. John was in the back.

I noticed a quart mason jar half full of a substance I assumed was stink bait. It was black. Except for a granular consistency, it looked like stink bait.

I was surprised when Dr. Hoeh reached into the jar while turning a corner and grabbed a glob of it and plopped it into his mouth.

Maybe I looked startled because he explained to me that it was a treat made from onions. (And no doubt eating it was a healthy thing to do.)

In 1979 some friends of Linda's and mine from Germany, Norbert and Elke Proetzel, drove from Big Sandy to attend the Feast in Tucson, Ariz. I introduced the Proetzels to Dr. Hoeh because they were German and I knew Dr. Hoeh could speak German.

We ended up eating lunch with him, and, when he learned we planned to visit the Grand Canyon and hike down either the Bright Angel or Kaibab trail, he said he would like to accompany us on our trek.

Although as it turned out he could not keep his appointment with us at the Grand Canyon, I was pleased that a man of his elevation in the WCG would want to go with some lowly church members and their friends on that outing.

I don't mean to concentrate on Dr. Hoeh's eccentricities. My overall impression of him is that he set a dignified example of serenity in the middle of the chaos of the church wars, and I mean that as a compliment. Dixon Cartwright.

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