Good Samaritan Society President: Augie Hoeger

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The year was 1963 when August Hoeger Jr., better known as “Augie,” assumed leadership of the Good Samaritan Society.

His whole life had prepared him for the role. As a child of founder August “Dad” Hoeger, Augie grew up in the Good Samaritan Society. He was born Aug. 7, 1927, in Fargo, North Dakota, and as a young boy often traveled with his dad to different Society locations.

Like his dad, he became a Lutheran pastor. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1955, and served as a pastor at several congregations in the Midwest. Augie also taught and served as campus pastor at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, and at Mankato State in Minnesota.

While at Mankato State, he received a call from the Society’s board of directors asking him to consider taking the role of executive director for five years. The position would report to his father, who was the superintendent.

“As soon as he started, he loved the work. He led the Society for 24 years and was instrumental in the explosive growth of Good Samaritan,” says the Rev. Dr. Greg Wilcox, nephew of Augie Hoeger and retired vice president of mission integration and senior pastor for the Good Samaritan Society.

As Augie began his role, the Society’s headquarters moved from Arthur, North Dakota, to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Augie’s wife, Betty, was the Society’s first secretary. The couple used the basement of their home on East 35th Street as the first central office.

Augie and Betty Hoeger in 1953

During his first three years as executive director, Augie spent seven out of every eight days on the road visiting Society locations. His management style brought more order and structure to the organization.

Augie soon hired three more secretaries, along with consultants and regional directors to support the locations.

With Augie as president, the Society grew from just 68 locations, with a capacity for 3,000 residents, to more than 200 locations in 25 states, with a capacity for 23,000 residents.

Much of the growth came from communities across the country inviting the Society to come. Augie asked them to purchase the land and the Society built on it.

For Augie, faith and innovation were central to his life and leadership. He started the Society’s spiritual ministries program and helped oversee the automation and computerization of the organization.

“His leadership style was affirmational and inspirational,” Greg says. “He was dynamic and quite brilliant.”

Augie created four hallmark values that served as the Society’s focus for decades: Christ-centered, resident-centered, staff-centered and community-centered.

Throughout his years as president, Augie had a significant partnership with his brother, John, who took the reins after him.

“They’d bounce ideas off each other and share the load,” Greg says.

Whether at work or home, Augie was known as an easy-going person.

Greg had the opportunity to live with him and his family during his junior and senior years of high school while his parents served as missionaries overseas. Greg remembers how affirming Augie was.

He also recalls a lot of laughter with Augie’s family when as a young boy his family would get together with them for special gatherings.

“Augie loved to play and created a sense of anticipation and fun wherever he was,” says Greg.

Augie and his wife Betty had five children, three sons and two daughters; and 16 grandchildren. Augie was an accomplished athlete who played college football. As an older adult, he played tennis and competed in the Senior Games.

Augie and Betty’s family in 1975

After his retirement in 1987, Augie and Betty traveled to every Society location to interview administrators, long-term staff members and community members about their time with the organization. These interviews were the start of the Society’s formal archives.

Augie died at the age of 79 on May 24, 2007. He is remembered with deep affection by all who knew him for his dedicated, caring leadership, his love of people, and his strong, joyful faith.