Pastors' Memoirs

Ralph Eugene Haugh, 1916-1996

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The Rev. Ralph Eugene Haugh, the son of James Lester Haugh and Ruth Naomi Crouse Haugh, was born in Carroll County, Maryland, on January 1, 1916. He graduated from the public schools of the county and, as so many of his generation, found it necessary to find productive work. Numerous jobs took his attention during the early years of the Great Depression until work took him to Front Royal, Virginia, where he came to know Dr. John F. Owens, pastor of Front Royal Methodist Church. In time, Dr. Owens was influential in directing Ralph’s interests toward the ministry. Some years had elapsed since high school so he enrolled for a post-graduate year at Randolph-Macon Academy, graduating in 1939, and matriculating at Randolph-Macon College.

It was during his senior year in college that this tall, good-looking student met Miss Margaret Shelton, who had come to Ashland to teach at the high school. This friendship led to marriage and in 1943, after graduation, the handsome couple went to Atlanta where Ralph became a student at the Candler School of Theology of Emory University. There he was awarded the Bachelor of Divinity. Margaret earned a Master of Religious Education degree. In 1946, he received his first appointment in the Virginia conference of the Methodist Church which was the Kilmarnock Charge in Lancaster County.

His second appointment was the Woodbridge-Occoquan Methodist Charge. In 1955, under his leadership, the two official boards began joint meetings and discussing the possibility of a merger. This merger became reality in 1958 with the first service of the new St. Paul United Methodist Church, Woodbridge, being held on Palm Sunday. Ralph was the last pastor of the two-point charge and the first pastor of St. Paul’s, serving over a total of nine years. This was followed by appointments at Culmore in Fairfax County, Main Street United Methodist Church in South Boston, Highland Park in Richmond, and Pender United Methodist Church in Fairfax County.

For 20 years he was the conference statistician. The assistant statisticians looked forward, from year to year, to this opportunity to spend a week under Ralph’s direction, pouring over seemingly endless computations. In the days before computers, this work, which would appear boring, was made enjoyable and even fun by Ralph’s amiable manner and efficient procedures. He always approached the task with a pastor’s heart. It was so great to be with him for a week that his associates hated to see the coming of the computer and the end of the annual week together. He was also the conference calligrapher and many members of the conference will find his artistry on their ordination papers. He retired in 1981 and made his home in South Boston where he was designated pastor emeritus of Main Street United Methodist Church. This writer had the privilege of working with him in the Arlington District and knew him to be a caring pastor, a faithful servant of Christ and his church and a wonderful friend.

It will be remembered of Ralph Haugh that he loved his family — Margaret, his partner in ministry; their son, Gene; daughter, Meg Haugh Chisholm; their four grandchildren and in-laws, Cynthia Haugh and Curtis Chisholm. Just the Sunday before his death he was present at Trinity Church in Richmond for his granddaughter’s confirmation.

On Monday, April 1, when a patient at Duke University Medical Center, Ralph received the summons to join the heavenly assembly. The funeral service was held on April 3, 1996, at Main Street United Methodist Church in South Boston with his pastor, the Rev. G. Thomas Brown Jr. and the Rev. Charles B. King, district superintendent of the Farmville District, conducting the service. He will be missed and remembered by many as one who was not only faithful in large responsibilities but also in the small details which make life rich and significant.

— James W. Turner



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