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Samuel Wilbert Hofer

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Samuel Wilbert Hofer Obituary
Samuel Wilbert Hofer

Mountain Home, Arkansas - Reverend Samuel Wilbert Hofer died September 28 at the Baxter Regional Medical Center in Mountain Home, Arkansas. He was 94 years old. He suffered a stroke with brain hemorrhage during his sleep at his home on the morning of September 27 and did not regain consciousness.

Samuel was born on his family's farm near Bridgewater, South Dakota, the second child of Paul J. and Suzanna Hofer, nee Glanzer. His father died in an accident, and his mother of illness, before Sammy was nine years old. He and his sister Gladys then lived with relatives. He graduated from Dolton High School, and then studied at Greenville College, Illinois, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in 1946. He received a Master of Arts in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1948, and a Master of Divinity from New York Theological Seminary in 1950. A life-long reader and student, he also studied at New York University, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Illif School of Theology in Denver, and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, U.K.

His life's work was as a Christian minister. First ordained in 1950 by the Mennonite Conference of North America, the next year he was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in the USA and began serving Doe Run Church in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. He then moved to Germantown Church in Chancellor, South Dakota, where he also courted his wife, Joyce Jibben, of Lennox, South Dakota, whom he married in June, 1954. During 1955 through 1957, he served as Protestant Chaplain at Fredonia State University in upstate New York, where his first son, Paul, was born.

He moved to Nebraska City, Nebraska, and became pastor of First Presbyterian Church in 1957, a post he would hold for 33 years. Among the many accomplishments during his tenure in Nebraska City were the construction of a new church building, the development of the "Presbyterian People Mover" to provide free transportation for the elderly and needy, and a respite program to provide relief for long term care givers. He led many tours for youth and adults to places around the United States.

During his time in Nebraska City his sons Chris and John were born. With the help of the congregation he also performed the marriage ceremony of Ibe Ukoha--a refugee from the civil war in Biafra, Nigeria--to Nne Nyeodrini, with whom he remained friends. Following his retirement from Nebraska City in 1990, he moved to Mountain Home with his wife Joyce. He became part-time pastor at 101 Presbyterian Church in Gamaliel, Arkansas, where he ministered for another 14 years.

Samuel lost his right leg in an automobile accident when he was 16 years old. Characteristically, he did not mention his amputation in extensive notes on his life, which were pinned to his home office wall at the time of his death (and which forms the basis for this obituary). Nor did he let this disability hinder his work or enjoyment of life.

He is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Joyce, and his three sons: Paul, of Washington, DC; Chris and his wife Kelly Vinopal, of Crofton, Maryland, and granddaughter Kate, a sophomore at Cornell University; and John and his wife Elisa Randazzo, of Los Angeles California, and their daughter Verona, a student at the Waldorf School of Pasadena.

His remains will be buried in the graveyard of Turner County Presbyterian Church, in the fields of South Dakota, where his beloved mother-in-law Johanna long ago purchased plots for he and his wife Joyce.

Arrangements are by Kirby and Family Funeral and Cremation Services - Mountain Home, Arkansas. Visit an online obituary and guestbook at www.kirbyandfamily.com.
Published in Baxter Bulletin on Oct. 2, 2019
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