GREENVILLE — Pastor Sam Hoeflich was laid to rest last week in Highland Cemetery in Covington. He died Feb. 3 at the age of 93, leaving behind a legacy he created in Darke County.
A veteran of the United States Army, serving honorably in World War II, he was known for being a chaplain at Wayne Hospital, and chaplain of the Greenville Honor Guard for the VFW and the American Legion and for the churches he pastored, including St. Paul’s Lutheran Church from 1956-67 and Christ Church from 1968-88
“Sam was one of the first pastors who welcomed me to Darke County when I first relocated to Greenville in 1979,” said Pastor Hershel Fee, pastor of Lighthouse Christian Center, who officiated at Hoeflich’s funeral. “He invited me to a pastor’s prayer meeting at Christ Church and introduced me to a few other pastors. That was the beginning of a long and great friendship. I admired Pastor Sam for his total commitment of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, not only in the pulpit but, walking the halls of the hospital, and as chaplain of the VFW, where he presided over many of his comrades funerals. I was honored when Sam and Dorothy chose to come to the Lighthouse Christian Center to serve as elders after he retired from pastoring. They were a tremendous asset and were loved by the congregation. Sam was well known for his little jig (dance) showing he was still agile and happy at his age, always ready to make people smile. One of my last memories of Sam was having the privilege of renewing his and Dorothy’s wedding vowels for their 66th anniversary. They were just as excited and happy as if it was their first wedding. I miss my friend.”
His son, Eric Fee, offered, “I’ve known Pastor Sam and his family for over 20 years. During that time, I’ve watched him serve the people of this community with love and compassion. It was an honor for us to celebrate the legacy of his life… a husband, father, grandfather, WWII veteran, pastor, chaplain and so much more. Our community is a better place because of Pastor Sam’s influence!”
“He was a great person, first of all,” remarked Freddie Dean. “He was pastor for both the VFW, American Legion as well as the honor guard, all for quite a few years. You couldn’t ask for a better person. Sam always helped and never asked for anything. He was a Lutheran pastor by profession. His family had Buffalo Jack’s [in Covington] as a grocery. When Sam was pastor at St. Paul’s, he was very good friends with Rev. Hanniford at the Episcopal Church. They went to Wittenberg in Wilmington together. He and I had a lot of good talks about Rev. Hanniford.”
Ralph Ruse had this to say: “He was a mighty fine man. I enjoyed working with him in the Legion and honor guard. I thought a lot of him.”
“He was a wonderful person,” remarked Dale Marker, another local veteran. “I was on the honor guard with him for years. I met him when he was pastor of the church on Fourth Street, the Lutheran Church. I’ve known him for a long time. On honor guard we always kidded him: If he talked too long, one of us had a live round. I was at the rest home shortly before he died and he said he wanted to live to be 100 if he died trying.”
Others paying tribute to the pastor on the funeral home website were:
“Pastor Sam was an awesome energetic man! I loved to watch him kick up his heels to show me how he could still move at 90,” remarked Ada Fraley.
“He was my pastor growing up in the children’s home,” wrote Karen Doss Lowder. “I credit him with saving my life when I was a young teen. I treasure his letter of encouragement to a confused young girl and keep it in my Bible.”
“Pastor Sam always had a smile,” submitted Reuben Yount. “I first met him as a young boy when we visited his church. I then seen him again when I joined the American Legion as a veteran of the U.S. Army. He was a gentle man who never raised his voice. He was soft spoken and got his point across with out ever being impolite.”
“As a young boy, I grew up as a neighbor of the Hoeflichs when Pastor Sam was at the Lutheran Church,” commented Rusty West of Covington. “He was always nice and very patient with all the kids from the hood congregating to play football or some kind of baseball game in their back yard and adjacent parking lot. The kids were usually the Kageys, Ackleys, Robinsons, Fishers and many more. Thank you, Pastor Sam and your family for always welcoming us at your home.”
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