Herman L. Hoeh, 1929-2004
r. Herman L. Hoeh, died of natural causes at his home on November 21, 2004. He would have been 75 years old on December 3. His widow can be reached at: Mrs. Isabell Hoeh, 10530 Commerce, Tujunga, CA 91042-1539, USA.
In 1947, Herman L. Hoeh was one of the first four students to attend Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. He received one of the first two B.A. degrees conferred by the college in 1951. He also received an M.A. degree in 1952 and a TH.D. degree in 1962. He was ordained by Herbert W. Armstrong as an evangelist on December 20, 1952, in Pasadena, California, along with Raymond C. Cole, Richard David Armstrong, Dr. C. Paul Meredith, and Roderick C. Meredith. All of these five original evangelists except Roderick C. Meredith are now deceased.
Dr. Herman Hoeh held a reputation for being the leading scholar of the Radio (later Worldwide) Church of God. He wrote, Compendium of World History, plus numerous articles, including, “A True History of the True Church,” “Which Old Testament Laws Should We Keep Today,” and “What You Should Know About Tithing.” For many years, he was the Managing Editor of The Plain Truth magazine, as well as dean and instructor at Ambassador College in Pasadena.
Dr. Hoeh had the unique ability to take complex subjects, and make them simple and easy to understand. He was perhaps the best writer in the Church of God, and one of its most engaging speakers. I remember one of his sermons in Pasadena, in which he provided proof for a Monday Pentecost based on the A.D. 161 calendar change. I transcribed his sermon and discussed it with him later. He cheerfully worked with me to edit the article (see www.giveshare.org/HolyDay/penteadj.html).
Herman was transparent, and totally approachable. He was an extraordinary acquaintance. At one point in 1973, I remember sitting in his office discussing problems in the Church. He exclaimed, “Richard, this is the Laodicean Church!” He was not one to pull any punches. Later that year, he burst into Raymond Cole’s office, brandishing Herbert Armstrong’s new booklet, “Marriage and Divorce.” He was excited that this important topic was thoroughly covered, and hoped it would quell a growing movement to liberalize Church teaching on divorce.
Shortly thereafter, I moved away from Pasadena, and lost contact with him. In 1974, the Worldwide Church of God underwent dramatic doctrinal changes. In the mid 1990s, additional massive changes were made. It appeared that Hoeh did not necessarily agree with these changes, but was not an outspoken opponent of them either. In recent years, he occasionally ordered books and materials from The Bible Sabbath Association, demonstrating his continued love for learning. To us, he remained somewhat of an enigma.
In his 1959 article, “A True History of the True Church,” Hoeh wrote about a dangerous future condition of the Church: “This is the time of the end when prophecies hidden for ages are being revealed. TRUTH is being restored, knowledge is rapidly increasing. But knowledge brings responsibility; it becomes dangerous if not rightly handled.
“Now notice Jesus’ LAST WARNING to His Church. At the very close of this age, when the work of spreading the gospel is almost finished, Jesus addressed yet another Church work — the ‘Church at Laodicea’: ‘I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot . . . I WILL SPUE THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH’ (Revelation 3:15, 16).
“This frightful condition lies now ahead of us. Just as the remnants of the Sardis era of the Church exist side by side with the Philadelphia era, so we will continue our work to the very “end time” when another group will appear — a group not accounted worthy to escape the coming tribulation. Another separate work is yet to arise — made up of begotten individuals who are spiritually lukewarm! WOE BE TO ANY OF US IF WE TAKE PART IN SUCH A WORK! Here is a work, yet to arise because of our preaching, which will say: ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.’ And Jesus will reply: ‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be ZEALOUS therefore, and repent.’
“It is time to WAKE UP! If you become complacent, lacking in zeal, looking upon a local Church as a social club, instead of having your heart in the gospel, you, too, may find yourself in the ‘Church of Laodicea’ left to suffer the impending, horrifying tribulation.
“Notice Jesus’ admonition for today in Luke 21:36. ‘WATCH ye therefore, and PRAY always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
“Let us all pray and work together to carry this gospel to all nations so Jesus will say to each of us, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant’.”
Some of Herman Hoeh’s articles are on our website, at www.giveshare.org/hoeh.html. My favorite is, “What You Should Know About Tithing.” Herman L. Hoeh will be remembered for his excellent writing which helped many understand God’s Truth.
— by Richard C. Nickels
Tributes to Dr. Herman L. Hoeh
From Helen McDowell, Widow of Bill McDowell
As I heard the account of Dr. Hoeh’s death it so paralleled my husband’s (Bill McDowell) almost three years ago — sudden, unexpected, and at home. Actively living life to the last moment is a blessing and one for which I’m thankful, but for the surviving spouse the shock of sudden death adds another dimension of sorrow to sort through. Memories of all the good times and many blessings help us with that sorting and healing. It has for our family, as I know it will for Mrs. Hoeh and her family.
I had the opportunity to know Dr. and Mrs. Hoeh in both the college setting and time spent in their home. The personal time was always a learning experience without feeling I was being “taught.” In remembering some of those times now I smile through the tears.
As a freshman student (1958) I was on the student “piano list” traveling to outlying churches for weekly Sabbath services. And I often went with Dr. and Mrs. Hoeh and their young family. Bill was on the “sermonette list.” When Bill and I became engaged, somehow we both were scheduled together when we went with the Hoehs. As was the custom, I packed our big picnic lunches in the Mayfair Kitchen and Mrs. Hoeh brought the goat milk — I still drink goat milk!
While I don’t remember much detail from Dr. Hoeh’s World History class, I do remember the most important thing he wanted us to learn — and to be sure that we learned it well he gave our final exam on this one point. That’s probably why I remember it! He placed a stack of books on the classroom desk. Then he gave us a sheet of paper with instructions to match each book with one of the twenty subjects on the paper — that was the final exam! And so Dr. Hoeh taught us a fundamental principle of doing any research — know where to look.
Both Dr. and Mrs. Hoeh were kind and patient with me, gentle and caring — making for good memories from a time that both seems long ago and just yesterday. May all the good memories provide comfort and support for Mrs. Hoeh and her family.
— Helen Rose McDowell, Houston, Texas
From Evangelist Raymond McNair
I first met Dr. Hoeh in November, 1948. He was one of the four students that enrolled in Ambassador College in 1947, during its first year of existence. (The other three students 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 A.C.) when my brother Marion and I entered A.C. Besides my brother and myself, Kenneth Herrman also enrolled in A.C. in that same year. This meant that seven students were enrolled in A.C. 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 A.C.) that Herman Hoeh was quite a scholar. In ensuing years, Herman (this was before he became a “Doctor”) became known as “the brain,” for he was not only scholarly, 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 re: 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, which he had incorporated in 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 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, etc., helping to edit The Plain Truth, 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 very 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 which 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 knew Mrs. Isabel Hoeh (Dr. Hoeh’s wife for about 50 years) since her arrival at A.C. in, I believe, the third year of the College’s existence. Isabel 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 that 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 which she will experience, without her husband by her side.
It is certainly a great loss to hear of the passing of one of the pioneers of the truth. His tremendous insight and fantastic Bible studies and articles will ALWAYS be a cherished memorial to his fantastic work as a human instrument under Christ.
How he ever kept quiet under the doctrinal changes, I will never understand, but there is no doubt we will see him in the first resurrection. He was a pioneer of good, Christian character, and he is certainly missed.
My prayers do go to his family in this time of testing, and I hope we can all go back to our files and see the legacy he left in writing. People are passing away so quickly now, and being only 31, it IS a good time to focus on continually overcoming and following in the good path left by these examples as they walked as Christ did.
Such a fine example indeed.
— Henrik Blunck, Denmark
Clear When Read Quickly
My first knowledge of Dr. Hoeh was probably in about 1956 when my mother and I began to attend services. Regrettably, my impression of him back then was limited to the observation that what he said was hard to understand.
As the years passed, I came to know him as a very humble, kind man. He seemed to have a soft spot in his heart for my mother because of her many years of service to the Church; he never failed to ask about her.
By way of tribute to him, his uniqueness and kindness, I’ll describe an unusual event that took place in the late 1970s. Terri and I were staying with some Church friends in Santa Cruz when Dr. and Mrs. Hoeh dropped by. While nobody was expecting their visit, we all knew each other and we settled into comfortable chatting. A little later on, Dr. Hoeh abruptly changed the subject by looking at me and asking if I’d read Galatians lately. I had to admit that my recent studies had not included Galatians. He nodded his head and made no reply. Some minutes later, we all noticed that Dr. Hoeh wasn’t there. Mrs. Hoeh didn’t know where he’d gone, but neither did she seem concerned. An hour or so later he returned, walked over to me, and presented me with a book. Of course, I was very surprised and a little at a loss for words. He had bought me a used New Testament of some unfamiliar translation. Of course, I thanked him profusely. He said, “You should read Galatians.” I said I would as soon as I got home and laid the Bible down. Then he said, “No, read it now, and do so in less than three minutes.” He continued, “Sometimes that which is unclear when read deliberately becomes clearer when read quickly.” Well, I did and he was right; I’ve never forgotten that lesson.
Dr. Hoeh was a gift to all of us, and he will be missed.
— Judd and Terri Kirk
Humility; a Peacemaker
Dr Hoeh’s unexpected death was a great loss to both 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 today that a number of truths came via him to Herbert W. Armstrong — truths which 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 which enriched our Biblical understanding was 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-adding to doctrine with deeper and more meaningful insights — this was a part of his capacity and the heritage which he has left behind.
It was about thirty years ago that, as a school kid, I attempted to research the origin of nations (Biblical origin of nations, Noah’s Flood, various laws, cremation, divorce and remarriage, and many other topics were discussed in my extended family often due to our religious roots, and this led 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 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 HWA for as long as we live.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family as well as those that look forward to his research continuing in some form.
— Craig White, Australia
A Servant of All
I first met Dr. Hoeh on a one-on-one basis in 1969 at his home on Orange Grove Blvd. I had heard him speak at services and at the Feast many times previous to my face to face visit with him. On another occasion another AC student, myself, and our dates were invited to his home one evening for dinner at a time when Mrs. Hoeh was visiting relatives in Texas. I can only concur with everyone who knew him and who came into contact with Dr. Hoeh that he was a genuine servant to man and a man of God. At dinner, Dr. Hoeh waited on us lowly students as a waiter in a fine restaurant would . . . but much better. It was very humbling for us to have Dr. Hoeh wait on our every need and a great lesson was learned by each one of us through this experience . . . genuine outgoing concern and he who is greatest is a servant to all.
I believe I have been very privileged to have been in the company of Dr. Hoeh, to attend his World History classes and the Principles of Living classes he subbed for Mr. Herbert Armstrong. Dr. Hoeh “knew his Bible” and lived it as well.
It will be great to see him and visit with him again in God’s Kingdom in the near future.
— Jim Cannon, Jupiter, FL 33458
Approachable and Dedicated
I only met with Herman Hoeh one time. I visited the Pasadena campus in the early 1960s. I was a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton. He showed me around the campus and took me to the place where there were several prayer booths and young people going in and closing the doors to pray. The only specific part of the conversation that I remember was that he said: “We are doing our best to get the message out about the kingdom of God” or words to that effect. He struck me as being an approachable and dedicated person.
— Wily Elder
He Eschewed Politics
We have all been saddened to witness the passing from the scene of those who were our leaders in past decades. For many, myself included, the sad death of Dr. Herman Hoeh has had a very deep impact.
I met Dr. Hoeh in the mid-1970s, when I came to Pasadena, California, as a student at Ambassador College. We remained good friends till his death, and would talk on the phone, and visit when I had the chance to be in Southern California.
When I recall Dr. Hoeh’s teaching, I can’t help but be reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian teachers: “If anyone builds on this foundation [Christ] with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward” (I Corinthians 3:12-14). So much of his teaching still sticks with me, and with many of God’s people.
Perhaps more than his teaching, I feel I profited most from his example. As noted in many of the other comments, this fine man was an example of humility, willingness to reach out to all, including the “little people” of God’s Church, and to serve everyone.
Most of all, I will remember him for his example of how to conduct oneself in the household of God. Never once did I ever see this man act in a political or self-advancing manner. He eschewed politics, and was willing to occupy the lowest seat at all times. What a tremendous example!
Naively, I had imagined he would always be there, in the foothills of Southern California, always ready and willing to visit an exotic restaurant, discuss the Bible, and extend the hand of friendship. Sadly, that is not to be; but I do hope and expect to see him again soon in the resurrection of the saints.
Goodbye to a great friend, teacher and brother, Dr. Herman Hoeh.
— Ralph D. Levy, Milford, Ohio
A Very Giving Man
He and I have had a close relationship from mid-1953 through the years. In the early 1950s, he did not know how to drive an automobile, and as the result, 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-1950s, I drove him from Pasadena to San Diego to give a sermon. He sat along side 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 refresher course in Pasadena, he was asked by one of the ministers if he could have a copy of his transcript. He 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 very few speakers who was able to 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, such as the Refresher Course.
Because of his speaking ability Hoeh was chosen by Mr. Armstrong to speak at the funeral of Mrs. Loma Armstrong. Mr. Tkach chose him to officiate at the funeral of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong.
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 I had little money. His giving was known by others as well. When Mr. 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 with which God had graced him, as well as his being a very giving man.
I am truly saddened by his death for he had been 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 (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
A Sincere Seeker of God’s Truth
Back in about 1972, I asked Dr. Hoeh how he came to prove that God existed, that the Bible was the Word of God, and that WCG was the one true Church. (I was a prospective member at the time, a new AC student, and trying to prove these things to myself.)
Dr. Hoeh answered that he had been brought up by religious parents and had been taught to read the Bible from his youth. He always believed the Bible. He gave the example that when he read that God had created Eve from Adam’s rib, he believed it.
As he grew older, he heard many religious preachers on the radio. He came to be able to discern when they were Biblically correct on certain points of doctrine, but incorrect on other points. Before he heard Mr. Armstrong, he had already come to understand many points of truth from the Bible. However, he was not able to correlate all of these points of truth into a cohesive whole pattern.
When Dr. Hoeh heard Mr. Armstrong on the radio, he immediately recognized Mr. Armstrong as being God’s true minister, because Mr. Armstrong taught all of the points of doctrine which Dr. Hoeh knew to be correct, and none of the ones which Dr. Hoeh knew to be incorrect. Therefore, Dr. Hoeh applied to go to Ambassador College as soon as he learned Mr. Armstrong was starting it, and he became part of Ambassador’s first class in 1947.
I admire Dr. Hoeh because he was a sincere seeker of the things of God, faithful in conscience to God (Acts 23:1, 24:16) till the day he died. He always seemed to set a good example of keeping the two great commandments.
I wrote a comment under the heading “Who will dwell with the Lord?” a few days ago. I think Dr. Hoeh had the kind of attitude and spirit that Christ will honor. Jesus told the rich young man who kept God’s commandments from his youth that he still lacked something. He lacked the Holy Spirit which had not yet been given (Acts 2, John 7:39). He lacked love (the first fruit of the Spirit — Galatians 5:22). Why will Jesus reject many preachers of the gospel (Matthew 7:21-23)? Because they lacked love (I Corinthians 13:1-7). We are to judge ministers by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).
— Matthew Kalliman
Related Personally to Everyone
Dr. Herman Hoeh was one of the key characters that surrounded and made up the Worldwide Church of God. From my earliest days it was his name along with Herbert W. Armstrong and some of the other early “fathers” that was often in discussion. Whether as the writer of a Church publication, the source for an early Church story, or involvement in a Church-sponsored arm of outreach, or an independent one that he established on his own, Dr. Hoeh was an individual who managed to experience a tremendous amount and, additionally, by example, encourage others to experience much in life, while at the same time managing to avoid any potential condemnation from those who could feel that external “non-Church” orientated pursuits were not valuable.
It struck me at his recent memorial service that Dr. Hoeh had the capacity to relate to every individual he came into contact with on a personal human level, making them feel that the interaction and conversation that was taking place was of importance and of value.
Two sermons of note that had particular interest to me, ranged from the “Spiritual” to the practical. One was given of the festival of Atonement and the other was also on “Holy Day” in the early 1990s. The first was about how many of the leaders of various faiths and movements around the world would be extremely surprised at how the present-day followers carried out and continued the message of the founder (including perhaps by inference Jesus Christ — if he were of course not divine and all-knowing). On the practical side, Dr. Hoeh spoke about the value of preparing for hard times or a “rainy day” where all individuals if possible should put aside in readily accessible reserves, six months of operating expenses. This would enable an individual to retrain or properly look for another job without fear and worry.
Dr. Hoeh was a man that could converse with kings and paupers equally and relate with both of them in a manner respectfully befitting them both. From my own recollections over the last nineteen years of living in Southern California, every time Dr. Hoeh saw me in the same room, even from quite a distance, he always made every effort to say “hello,” converse for a while and ask how my family and parents were doing. I was always amazed in his consistency in doing this.
His peaceful and unusual legacy will always be remembered. Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”.
— Rolfe H. Jones, originally of London, England, now of Pasadena, California; Big Sandy Class of 1985; Pasadena Class of 1990
Dedicated his Life to Learning
My own personal memory of Herman Hoeh covering his car when it was parked on the street. Most of us covered our cars occasionally at night, because of the fruit fly spraying, but few made an effort every day to protect against the smog of southern California.
Dr. Hoeh was at heart, I believe, a scientist (though he was not that kind of “Dr.”) a kind of Benjamin Franklin. His interests were certainly legion, as well as legendary.
A good scientist, if he or she is honest, must constantly amend and update his/her understanding of things. Dr. Hoeh was nothing if not honest, and totally lacking in the kind of pride and vanity that keeps ordinary mortals from admitting error.
For example, though often ridiculed these days for early works such as his Compendium of World History, I believe he himself considered them “immature.”
Let others be dogmatic. Dr. Hoeh will be remembered, hopefully, as an inspiring pragmatist who dedicated his life to learning.
— Van Baker, Bloomington, Illinois
Comfortable With Rich and Poor
We are seeing a whole generation of men that were our leaders in the Worldwide Church of God, one by one take their rest and wait for a resurrection. With Dr. Hoeh I have good memories. I remember him especially because when we read The Plain Truth magazine in the early 1960s, Dad was enthralled by his articles but could never pronounce his name. Dr. Hoeh, promised to come and visit Dad. Dad died before Dr. Hoeh was able to visit him. He nevertheless kept his promise and visited Mom on his way to Central Asia. He was honestly a humble person.
From my perspective I will tell you why I and others respected him so much. Whether his interpretations of scripture were accurate or not, is not the issue. He was very tolerant of others. He was comfortable with Buddhists, Moslems, and Seventh-day Adventists. He was a simple man that could be comfortable with the rich and the poor.
How is Herman Hoeh going to be judged by God.? It’s very simple. It is a judgment that is found in the Gospels — when I was hungry, you fed me, when I was naked, you clothed me, when I was in prison, you visited me. It’s not by perfection but by a serving, giving heart —shaped by the Spirit of God. To me that is the Gospel. I really loved Dr. Hoeh. May we see him again!
— Oleh Kubik, Binghamton, New York
Tribute from Evangelist Roderick C. Meredith
As many of you already know, news came this past Sunday of the death of Dr. Herman L. Hoeh. He would have been 75 on December 3, 2004. He lived a full and productive life which greatly impacted many of us in the Church of God.
Herman Hoeh was my very first roommate in Ambassador College in the winter of 1949/1950. Just the two of us shared a room. That was the beginning of a deep friendship which lasted for over 55 years. He was different from anyone I’d ever known before. He was extremely organized, studious and kind. He shared with me — or I was able to observe — many helpful practices regarding study, research, prayer and diligence. His personal kindness to Church members and students was legendary. At a time when a number were not getting their paychecks regularly or were underpaid in the Work, people would sometimes hear a noise at their front door. Upon opening the door, they would notice two large grocery bags filled with very nutritious food. Sometimes they had no way of knowing who it was. But, upon inquiring of others, they would find that this had happened before with others who stepped out on their front walkway to see — perhaps halfway down the block — Dr. Hoeh quietly getting into his car and disappearing.
As the first male graduate of Ambassador College, Dr. Hoeh came to be regarded as the “Dean of the Ministry.” He and I were both ordained December 20, 1952, by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong as Evangelists. However, as the senior to us in the Work, Dr. Hoeh was ordained first, then Raymond Cole, then Dick Armstrong, then my Uncle Dr. C. Paul Meredith and last and least, myself — as it should have been. He began teaching classes at Ambassador College even in his senior year and, over his career undoubtedly taught thousands of Ambassador College students. Since Mr. Armstrong turned the entire Theology Department over to Herman Hoeh and me in the autumn of 1953, virtually all students from then on for several years, had to have us as theology instructors. Dr. Hoeh’s razor-sharp mind, his penetrating insights into history and related matters, made him a most interesting and stimulating instructor.
Dr. Hoeh also was a vital part of the editorial team when we were finally able to regularly publish the Plain Truth starting early in 1953. Before that, due to finances and the fact that Mr. Armstrong had to do everything himself, some years there were only three or four issues and at no time was there a complete ten or twelve issues. Dr. Hoeh had a wide range of interests and was very helpful in the early phases of the international work of the Church, the foreign language editions of the magazine, helping establish some of the archeological projects in which Ambassador College students were involved and many other activities.
We . . . remember and honor the contributions of this remarkable human being who served so well for so many years in the Work of God. Herman Hoeh was a dear friend to me and to many, many others. His personal kindnesses will never be forgotten.
Never a Negative Harsh Word
Although I haven’t been in direct contact with Dr Hoeh for the last eight years, we did spend some time together in England prior to that time. We did discuss matters pertaining to the Work when he attended the Board of Trustees meetings when I was a board member, until I resigned when I left Worldwide for United.
In my personal contact with Dr Hoeh, I found him a person always at ease with himself and he never made you feel second rate. You became aware that he had only your interest at heart and I don’t recall him ever having a harsh word or speaking negatively about an individual.
— Gerhard Marx
A Heart for the Little Guy
Most of the tributes have really captured the essence of Dr. Hoeh. I’d like to salute him as a great internationalist — someone with a heart for the little guy and the little country. Your trip with him to the USSR showed him as he was — no illusions about Communism yet sympathetic to the Russian people. Those articles were written during one of the deepest deep freezes of the Cold War and they deserve to be reread as a model of sympathy and empathy. This old world needs all the committed internationalists it can get and it has lost a great one. Roger Lippross remembers Dr. Hoeh sitting there valiantly editing while he was about to be removed as Perpetually Prominent Editor at the PT. You can’t keep a good man down — he showed up again in 1976 as WCG’s sponsor of the Pygmy Fund — remember that one?
He and John Halford gave the magazine an international perspective in the 1980s through their International Desk — saluting countries such as Costa Rica that did not have an army or Haiti, etc. This gave the PT a rare empathy and international clout that few magazines could match. I well remember him visiting us in Toronto about 1990 pulling the whole PT out of his pocket and spreading it out on our living room floor — editing away.
His office was next to mine at Editorial from 1993-1996 and never was heard a discouraging word. Someone said it best — he knew that fighting never gets you where or what you want, you only move to a new level of problems. Last word I had was two months ago when he was the only one I could reach about a tribute to Lucy Martin. The last time I saw him was Tuesday before his death steaming across campus, head down, one hand in his jacket pocket on his way to a board meeting (I think). We’ve lost the Grand Old Man of the WCG and there’ll never be another like him.
— Neil Earle, Pastor, Glendora/Cucamonga Churches
A Close, Loving Family Relionship
My prayers go out to the Hoeh family. I was blessed to grow up in Pasadena and have Anneliese (Herman Hoeh’s daughter) as a close friend and classmate at Imperial. We would go up on her roof and sit out in the sun, while discussing all of the things that young girls discuss. I felt very welcome in their home, and could see that they had a close, loving relationship. Dr. Hoeh will be missed by all.
— Michelle (Rasmussen) Rageth, St. Paul, Minnesota
Cleaned up Little Boy’s Plate
One of our fondest memories of Dr. Hoeh was when he and his wife stayed with us in Iowa about 11 or 12 years ago. Our son David, about 9 or 10 at the time, was being picky with his food at dinner. Dr. Hoeh, noticing that he had left food on his plate, asked, “David — are you going to eat that?” David replied, “No, Dr. Hoeh, I’m full.” The next words we heard were “Thank-you,” as Dr. Hoeh took David’s plate, put it down in front of himself and began to eat what was left.
Unconventional, to be sure, but Dr. Hoeh was a humble, content, delightful, considerate man who always made us feel personally valued as human beings. We will always have a warm spot in our hearts for him and look forward to being reunited with him in the future.
— Dave and Hinke Gilbert and sons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ability to Read is a Gift
It was a surprise and with not a little sadness that we learned of the death of Herman L. Hoeh. Like many others, I had the personal good fortune to work with him many times when I was in Pasadena. He was as eclectic as they come, but he was also a singularly humble person to whom no task was beneath him. My experiences with Dr. Hoeh, as I’m certain many others can say, ranged widely from the outrageously humorous to the profoundly somber. He taught me quite a bit. On Thanksgiving Day, here are a few of those experiences:
Although I had talked briefly with Dr. Hoeh many times as an AC student in the 1970s, I had never spent any real time with him until I was sent over to his Hall of Administration office in the Fall of 1979.
Dr. Hoeh was on the phone when I arrived, and he motioned that he would just be a moment. I took the time to examine the many shelves of books he had. I was struck by the fact that he had the entire collection of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series. I asked him about it, thinking that they were intended to be donated.
He replied that they were his, to my great surprise. His explanation? “The ability to read is a gift. What we place into our minds by using this gift must be selected with care, as everything we read influences us. Those books [Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew] are simple but satisfying for a tired mind desiring entertainment. They always end with justice being served. In my view, they represent a suitable alternative to the rubbish that many unfortunately prefer.”
Dr. Hoeh’s legendary capacity for extremely hot and spicy foods never ceased to amaze me. Once, my sister Kathy accidentally switched the cayenne pepper requirements for her organic chili recipe. Instead of a teaspoon, she put in a full cup of cayenne pepper. Unable to eat it, she canned it and gave it to me (I like spicy foods). At lunchtime, I heated some up in the Editorial Services microwave. It nearly killed me.
Dr. Hoeh tried it and pronounced it the “best chili I’ve had in a long while.” I gave him five Mason jars full of this inedible, near-lethal concoction. A few days later he returned the clean jars, stating that he and Mrs. Hoeh liked it so much, they had it for breakfast everyday!
Once Dr. Hoeh noticed a scholarly book on Egypt on my desk at Editorial. “I don’t recall loaning you this copy,” he said, picking it up. I replied that I had purchased it while at the British Museum during the Feast. “Ah yes,” he said approvingly. “And I am certain your reading of it has been beneficial. As you and I know, one gains far more utility from a book in actually having read it, as opposed to employing such a work as an office ornament to give the appearance of intellectualism.” As a then 29-year-old “senior” writer for The Plain Truth, I never forgot that lesson.
When asked a question that concerned the past in some form, Dr. Hoeh usually opened with the phrase “If memory serves…” Once I asked him why. He replied: “It’s the only way to have an honest conversation. No one possesses perfect memory. If you reply to a question without the facts in front of you or imminently fresh in your mind, then you can chose to be either arrogant or honest.”
Finally, the most profound bit I ever heard from Dr. Hoeh was this: I had written a draft of a Plain Truth article in 1983 that included the account of Loma Armstrong’s challenge to Herbert Armstrong about the Sabbath and how Mr. Armstrong’s attempt to use the Bible as a defense had led to him accepting the Bible as divine authority. Dr. Hoeh had struck it out in his edits.
Sitting in his tiny office in Editorial Services (Dr. Hoeh humbly and personally chose that space and refused any larger, more expansive office), I asked him why.
“Mr. Snyder,” he said, using the “Mr.” that always heralded the fact that I was about to receive an important lesson, “you should realize by now that the Sabbath challenge as it relates to the conversion of Herbert Armstrong is but a ‘happy illusion.’
“What led to the conversion and change of Herbert Armstrong was simply this: in a time of severe need, Mr. Armstrong fervently prayed for relief and guidance. To his great astonishment, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob answered.”
Dr. Hoeh was a man of humility and a true champion of diversity. He will be missed.
— Michael Snyder, Indianapolis, Indiana
Appreciated Five Year Old’s Picture
Dr. Hoeh visited the Waco, Texas, WCG back in the late 1980s. It was a double service with A.M. and P.M. services. Something he said in the A.M. service inspired my daughter who was about five at the time to draw a picture of a nature scene. She presented him with the picture before lunch. After lunch, when he began to speak again, he took a few minutes to show the congregation the picture and to thank her for it. He genuinely appreciated it. That was the only time I met Dr. Hoeh, but that incident endeared me to the man. Critics can say what they may, but from my perspective, this was one fine man.
— John Gill
Your obituary of Herman Hoeh probably sums up my own thoughts and feelings about him as well. He’ll be remembered in COG and ex-COG circles as an enigma, and an Armstrongist minister who was, it appears, refreshingly un-ambitious . . . I’m grateful that he helped spark my interest in ancient and medieval history, or rather helped me discover that the study of such things can be a source of joy.
— Jared Olar
Preached a Powerful Sermon Without Saying a Word
The lanky minister walked slowly towards the podium, as over 10,000 people waited in anticipation for his sermon to begin. Before reaching the lectern, he stopped, leaned over, and picked up a piece of paper that someone had carelessly littered on the floor. Dr. Herman Hoeh put the scrap into his pocket, arrived at the speaker’s stand, and paused, as the audience sheepishly squirmed in their seats. Before opening his mouth, he had “preached” one of the most powerful messages I have ever “heard.” It is a message that few professed Bible believers will heed.
— Giving and Sharing, www.giveshare.org/HolyDay/ecology.html
Simple, Plain Lifestyle
He was really one of the true “heroes of the faith” in our time, and always an example of excellence in scholarship linked to strong personal faithfulness. And his reputation of accomplishing so much while idealizing the simple, plain life style, of not being encumbered by stuff, of loving and serving the common folk, regardless of status . . . are all wonderful examples to us all.
Although all us ol’ timers always knew who he was, the younger generation (after 1980s) often did not even know the name.
When one of my younger kids asked one of the older ones, “Who’s Dr. Hoeh” The older one said, “He’s the Mr. Spock of the WWG.” The younger one clearly understood, being also versed in Star Trek personalities.
I told Dr. Hoeh of this comment, and he smiled quietly, also completely understanding.
Good bye Dr Hoeh. See you in that better resurrection.
— Dr. John Merritt
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, but 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, North Carolina for the Days of Unleavened Bread. I had only been attending church a few short months, and to meet Dr. Hoeh was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
During the time I was in Big Sandy, Dr. Hoeh would visit 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 all 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 fifty 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 very open to getting together, and he took me to a small café 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 be able 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 enclosed 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 importantly, 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 be completing 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, Ed.D. Candidate, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Genuine Heart and Rare Understanding
Dr. Hoeh was my mentor and the most valuable teacher I’ve ever had on the subject of practical Christianity. My training from him began in my freshman year of Ambassador College. He asked me to accompany him and his wife Isabell on a remarkable seven-week trip to the Soviet Union where I served as his translator and photographer. Our friendship continued for the next 37 years. From how he treated all people I see why the words “of genuine heart and rare understanding” will be inscribed on his headstone.
Dr. Hoeh loved humanity. He treated everyone as though they indeed were made in God’s image and destined for immortality. God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son for mankind. In like manner Dr. Hoeh sacrificed his life for so many. He wanted to do his part in the betterment of those who came into his life, especially the common people. This he did with the greatest humility. People tell many “Dr. Hoeh stories” — most of them deal with his unique manner and interaction with the diversity of humanity which he loved.
One of Dr. Hoeh’s children summarized his life by declaring that he was a servant. He supported the underdogs, the less privileged. He shunned the elite and those who expected to be served. For me personally, his kindness to our family through the death of both my parents was his greatest service to us. I will never forget that.
Here is a brief summary of what I learned from my mentor Dr. Hoeh:
1. Value all people. Everyone is made in God’s image and has the potential to be in His family. Value mankind as God values mankind by thinking the best and giving every opportunity for a person to rise to their best. Dr. Hoeh always spoke of people with dignity and respect both publicly and privately.
2. Serve mankind with humility. Put others ahead of you at your expense. Seek out those who need a hand. Not all will understand or appreciate the good that you do, but realize that doing good is not between you and them; it is between you and God.
3. Seek peace and strive to resolve conflict by giving up your position and status. Sometimes I wondered why Dr. Hoeh didn’t fight more for his causes. His philosophy was that the fight was not his and that human battle did not achieve ultimate peace.
May God give you rest from the turbulence of our times, Dr. Hoeh. In the resurrection I want to see my parents first, but then I want to find you and give you a big hug. You are truly a person of “genuine heart and rare understanding.”
— Victor Kubik
Spiritual Differences Between Old and New Covenants
The most important contribution Dr Hoeh made to my life was the sermon (I still have the tape) on the spiritual differences and its application between the old covenant and the new one. After listening to it countless times (I am a slow learner), I eventually got it. What a gem of information!! It definitely helped with the storms that came.
— Carlo Mkarewicz, Pasadena 1978-80
Wouldn’t Sleep on a New Bed
I am sure many of us can recall stories and events that showed the personal side of Dr. Hoeh . . . how he was a caring and connected man.
Many, many years ago I visited my brother-in-law in the US . . . I believe he was in Kentucky at the time. One of the members told a story of Dr. Hoeh coming to the area for a Church visit and was to stay at her house. Of course she was all in a flap . . . cleaned the house spotlessly. And even went to the expense and effort of buying new sheets for the guest bed. In the morning she noticed the bed was made up and told Dr. Hoeh he didn’t have to go to all that trouble to make up the bed.
“Make the bed? No, I couldn’t sleep in such a new and beautiful bed . . . I just slept on the floor!”
And John Larkin could recount the time in Bricket Wood he was running late cleaning up after the midday Holy Day meal. He expected to miss the afternoon service. To his amazement, Dr. Hoeh came along and grabbed the other side of the garbage bin . . . come on, we’ll get all this cleaned up so we can both hear the afternoon’s message.
Ah, fond memories of a real nice man.
— David Sandland, Australia
A Wonderful, Brilliant Man
In remembering my days at college and my memories of Dr. Hoeh, it really struck me at what we all have lost over the years. The RCG was, in fact, a real driving force in striving to understand the Scriptures.
Sure, it wasn’t all understood correctly, but I have never seen in any organization or people since then, the drive to study that Book and apply it to one’s own life, and to tell the world about it. That has been lost now, including some very wonderful people, warts and all!!
If it hadn’t been for Dr. Hoeh, I might never have married my wonderful wife Arlene. Dr. Hoeh encouraged me all the way, while another minister tried to dissuade me. I listened to Dr. Hoeh, and he was right. She was meant for me and vice versa.
I shall always have very fond memories of Dr. Hoeh, from times in his classes, discussions and counseling in his office, to visits to his home. He was truly a wonderful, brilliant man.
We have all lost a brilliant light in our struggle through the darkness of this human life.
It will be a great day to meet him again in the resurrection, along with many others who have preceded him. What a day when we all can stand before the Father and Son as brothers and sisters working throughout eternity together.
— Bob Petry
Yair Davidy praises Herman L. Hoeh
The Passing of a Scholar (H. L. HOEH) Herman L. HOEH has just passed away. H. L. HOEH greeted the first publication of “The Tribes” enthusiastically and recommended his acquaintances and students to buy it. He was one of our first supporters.
He was the author of a history of the world that relied heavily on traditional and mythological sources many of which were relatively unknown and difficult to come by. His work is an invaluable fount of source material and well worth reading.
Herman L. HOEH, “Compendium of World History”, A Dissertation Presented to The Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Theology, 1962 (1963-1965, 1967 Edition), USA.
We did not know H. L. HOEH personally but spoke to him a few times on the phone and found him to be civil, considerate, and discerning. May he rest in peace.
— Yair Davidy