Good Samaritan Society President: John Hoeger
With a deep sense of humility and a great interest in others, John Hoeger faithfully led the Good Samaritan Society as president during the late 1980s.
“He was exceptionally kind and so concerned with people and how they were doing,” says the Rev. Dr. Greg Wilcox, John’s nephew and retired vice president of mission integration and senior pastor for the Good Samaritan Society.
Greg served under John’s leadership when he joined the Good Samaritan Society as the director of spiritual ministries in 1988. He remembers the positive impact John had on others.
“Faith was important and he kept that alive,” Greg says. “He was careful about finances and wanted people to be cognizant of good stewardship. He was also incredibly generous.”
John was lighthearted, both at the Society and at home.
“When we’d gather as a family, there would always be devotions and lots of fun, play and laughter,” says Greg. “In the midst of business and busyness, there was joy.”
Greg recalls many of the Society’s annual meetings where John set the tone with good-natured teasing.
“It was important business, but not so serious that there couldn’t be laughter,” he says.
Before becoming the Society’s president, John spent most of his adult life engaged in the Society’s work, helping guide the organization with his brother, Augie Hoeger.
John was the first-born son of August and Amelia Hoeger. He was born Aug. 17, 1923, in Arthur North Dakota, shortly after the formation of the Good Samaritan Society. When he was 3 years old, his father purchased him a Shetland pony, which became the pride of all the children in Arthur.
John graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, in 1945. He then followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a pastor, earning a Master of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary in 1948. His first role with the Society was as an administrator at the Parkston Country Center in Parkston, South Dakota.
John married Katherine Kaufman, a pastor’s daughter and parish worker, whom he met while serving as an intern in Toledo, Ohio. They had two sons and a daughter.
After John’s ordination, he became a parish pastor, serving congregations in Overland Park, Kansas, and Ontario, California. He returned to the Society in 1966 as the administrator at Hastings Village in Hastings, Nebraska. The campus had 1,400 residents and 400 staff members. His parents became residents there and his sister, Agnes Hoeger, became the first medical director of the location.
The Society’s board of directors asked John to be the associate director at the central office in 1972. He was tasked with deepening the spiritual life of the Society’s administrators and other leaders, but he quickly assumed other administrative duties as well.
John was a proponent of education and focused on hiring administrators who had college degrees. He worked closely with his brother, who was serving as the Society’s president at the time, and played a key role in board meetings.
“They’d bounce ideas off each other and share the load,” says Greg.
Augie said that without John, he would have vacated his role much earlier than he did.
When Augie retired in 1987, he recommended John take his place. The board of directors agreed and John stepped into the role, serving for two years before retiring himself.
John constantly reaffirmed Dad Hoeger’s operating philosophy that the Society existed to serve the Lord and His people that were in need.
In a 2007 interview at the Society’s annual meeting in Kansas City, John reflected on why it has thrived.
“I think it’s the Christian mission and dedicated Christian people who were looking for an opportunity to spend their lives spreading the Good Word in word and deed, and they found that opportunity in the Society,” John said. “… It’s kept going under the direction of the one who really leads the Good Samaritan Society and that’s our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
John died on May 25, 2015. He is remembered fondly for his deep commitment to the Society’s mission and his remarkable ability to create images through words.
“He modeled faith, humility and good stewardship and that left a lasting legacy with all who served with him,” says Greg.