The Rev. Robert M. Hoag, 88, former Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Clarks Summit, Pa., and at Abington Presbyterian Church of Abington, Pa., died Friday, Nov. 9, at Abington Memorial Hospital, after battling Parkinson's disease and stroke-related issues for the past 10 years.
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Reverend Hoag was born on May 7, 1924 in Shortsville, N.Y., to Margaret M. Moore and Earl A. Hoag. He had an older brother, David Asa Hoag, all of whom have predeceased him. After graduating from high school, Reverend Hoag attended State University of New York at Brockport. In 1943 he enlisted in the United States Navy as a medical corpsman attached to the US Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in April of 1946.
Reverend Hoag earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and psychology from the University of Rochester in 1951. While employed by the Burroughs Corporation in the Philadelphia area, Reverend Hoag felt a call to serve the Lord. In 1954 Reverend Hoag entered Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating in 1957. He continued his theological studies for an additional year at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1958, Reverend Hoag was ordained into the Christian Ministry of the Presbyterian Church in New Brunswick, N.J., while also serving on the staff of Princeton Seminary as Director of the Institute of Theology and as Assistant to the Dean of Field Education.
In 1960, Reverend Hoag was called to be the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit. Under Reverend Hoag's leadership over the next 15 years, First Presbyterian Church tripled its membership and significantly increased its community outreach. Reverend Hoag was a very active participant in community civic organizations. He served on the advisory board of the Salvation Army and the Greater Scranton YMCA. He served as president of the Child Guidance and Mental Health Center; president of the Abington Rotary Club; and vice president of the community library. In 1972, Governor Milton Shapp awarded Reverend Hoag a Certificate of Appreciation for his work in the flood related to Hurricane Agnes that devastated the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.
In 1975 Reverend Hoag was called to be the Senior Pastor of the Abington Presbyterian Church in Abington, Pa., where he served for the next 14 years. During his ministry he baptized 250 children, performed 197 weddings, and officiated at countless funerals. At the time of his retirement from full time ministry in 1989, Reverend Hoag stated, "I don't know any other profession where one is offered a greater spectrum of service to people. It is a privilege and a joy to be a minister. It's from cradle to grave."
Following his retirement as Pastor of Abington Presbyterian Church, Reverend Hoag continued to live in the Jenkintown area. He served as an interim and as a supply pastor at numerous Philadelphia area churches, and as an associate pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church of Jenkintown.
While living in the Jenkintown area, Reverend Hoag devoted much time and energy to community organizations. He felt it was very important for pastors to serve Christ outside the walls of the sanctuary. He stated, "Community service and outreach are a major responsibility of the church. They are a key to its success." Following his own advice, Reverend Hoag served as a chaplain at Abington Hospital and was on the board of the "We Can Say No" organization. He helped supervise the creation of the Compassionate Friends organization, which helps parents and siblings who have experienced the death of a child. Reverend Hoag was an active and devoted member and past president of Jenkintown Rotary Club. He was a strong supporter of the public library system, joining the Board of Trustees and later becoming president of the Abington Free Library. In 1997 he was named Public Library Trustee of the Year and was honored with a Certificate of Merit Award for outstanding contributions to libraries of the Commonwealth. He also served on the Abington YMCA Board of Directors and the Development Committee. In 2003 Reverend Hoag received the Citizens that Care Award from Abington Community Task Force which recognizes the work of caring and involved citizens who have contributed to the safety and healthy involvement of young people in our community.
Reverend Hoag was a former member of the Board of Trustees at Davis and Elkins College, Elkins, W.Va., and served on the Board of Trustees of the College of Podiatric Medicine, Philadelphia, Pa.
The Reverend Hoag is survived by his wife of 57 years, Ellen Lee Puhl; daughters, Nancy Hoag Rasweiler and Janet Hoag; three sons, David, Robert and Jonathan Hoag; and eight grandchildren.
Visitation will be held in the sanctuary of Abington Presbyterian Church, 1082 Old York Road, Abington, Pa., on Friday, Nov. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. A service celebrating Reverend Hoag's life and ministry will be held at Grace Presbyterian Church, 444 Old York Road, Jenkintown, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. A reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to Abington Memorial Hospital Hospice Program, 1200 Old York Road, Abington, PA 19001; the Abington Free Library, 1030 Old York Road, Abington, PA 19001, or the Jenkintown Rotary Club, c/o Grace Presbyterian Church, 444 York Road, Jenkintown, PA 19046.
For online condolences, go to www.lawrenceeyoungfu neralhome.
Published in Scranton Times on Nov. 15, 2012