Pastors' Memoirs

James William Hough, 1914-1994

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"Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful." (I Corinthians 4:2)

Surely it must be said of James William Hough, affectionately known and loved as "Bill," that he was faithful as a servant of Christ and steward of God's mysteries.

Bill's journey in faithfulness began on January 26, 1914, in Norfolk, Virginia. He was the son of Samuel Nelson and Rosalie Howell Hough, and brother of Mary, Elizabeth, Frances, and Herbert. He was educated in the public schools of Norfolk, graduating from Maury High School, class of 1932. In March 1938, at the Park Place Church, he was licensed to preach. Bill received a BA. degree from Randolph-Macon College in 1942, where he was honored as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa. He was further honored with the First Campus Citizen Award at Randolph-Macon.

Bill married his beloved "Polly," Pauline Esther McFall, on November 14, 1936. After more than 57 beautiful, productive and blessed years together, Polly died on April 11, 1994. Two lovely daughters, Patsy Jean and Linda Lee, were born of their marriage. The same year of Linda Lee's birth, Bill received a BD. degree from the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. He became a probationary member of the Virginia Annual Conference in 1947, and two years later was ordained an elder.

During World War II,1942-1945, Bill served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, rising to the rank of lieutenant, S.G. From 1947 until retirement in 1982, he served the following appointments: Walkers-Chesterbrook; Walkers Chapel; Fairfax; Fairlington; Fredericksburg; Trinity (Newport News); Bon Air, Arlington Forest; and Braddock Street, Winchester. He was Pastor Emeritus at Braddock Street until his death. His faithfulness as pastor, preacher and administrator is notable and has been highly complimented by those for whom he was responsible.

Each of these roles was severely tested in the Fredericksburg Church in 1963. During that year several minority persons requested membership. In keeping with biblical theology, The Discipline, and his own faith commitment, Bill prepared to receive two such persons. The decision rested, finally, with the administrative board, which concurred with a majority of one vote. Bill's response in the throes of emotional stress and spiritual struggle was both as prophet and pastor. He remained the caring shepherd in the midst of opposition, frustration, and serious illness within the family of a prominent and outspoken layperson. In those circumstances, as in all his ministerial responsibilities, Bill was undergirded and directed by his profound love of Christ and his compassion for people.

Positions of note in which Bill served very effectively in the Virginia conference are: president, Board of Social and Economic Relations; president, Commission on Religion and Race; member, Virginia conference Council on Ministries. Always an ecumenist, Bill shared leadership in Ministerial Associations and Councils on Human Relations in Alexandria, Fairfax and Fredericksburg. He was on the staff of the Fredericksburg Personal Counseling Service. Bill was active in Kiwanis, and was privileged to offer prayer at the opening of the U.S. Senate on February 22, 1966. In his retirement, Bill frequently preached and taught in other denominational churches. Sharing his excellent administrative skill, be recruited, organized and personally participated in providing chaplains in the Winchester Hospital and for local civic functions. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree at Shenandoah University in 1984.

All who knew Bill Hough know of his avid interest in golf. Once in Fairfax County, I played several holes with him in a heavy snow storm. A colleague suggested that Bill utilized his interest and devotion to golf as an opportunity to relate to persons he was unable to reach in mare formal settings. Always the evangelist! His golf accomplishments include a hole-in-one, ninth hole at Washington Golf and Country Club; a hole-in-one, 16th hole, Carper's Valley Golf Club; and a round at Pebble Beach, Monterey, California. On the morning of his death, it appears Bill was dressing for his daily golf game.

Bill was assertively and courageously independent. When he was forbidden to drive, he "scooted" around Winchester on a moped. When he was forced to curtail his golfing due to a severely damaged knee, he had a knee replacement. He raked leaves, shovelled snow and mowed the lawn as long as physically able. He devoted himself primarily to loving, supporting and caring for his beloved Polly in her debilitating illness. Bill was totally committed to living his life to the fullest, a good and faithful steward of the mysteries of God and the realities of his personal existence.

He died alone in his home on October 20 1994. The worship experience, celebrating his life and his death was in the Braddock Street Church with the Rev. John B. Peters, the Rev. Michael S.B. Robbins, and the Rev. Jack A. Minnick officiating. Survivors are his daughters, Patsy H. Stein of Lake Park, Florida; Linda Lee Fallin of Montross, Virginia; grandchildren -- Victoria Bruley, Michael Stapleton, Michelle Fallin and Karen Fallin; two sisters, Elizabeth Riggin and Frances Miller.

- Hugh J. Winston, Jr.



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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