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Dedicated volunteer

Hoak big on community service; a joy to his family

Hoak big on community service; a joy to his family

May 06, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Gerald E. Hoak, who died April 26 at the age of 73. His obituary appeared in the April 27 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

In recent years, Hoak family vacations usually included three generations and often were in Ocean City, Md.

"Dad would always get to the beach first to stake out the best bedroom in the condominium - the one where he could hear the ocean in the morning," said Lisa Hoak Bohrer, the oldest of three children of Jerry and Sonia Hoak.

A widower since the late 1990s, Jerry Hoak usually would be up at 5 a.m.

"The first thing I would hear would be the sound of ice cubes as dad was making bloody marys," Lisa said.

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After three of those concoctions, Jerry would take a nap, then spend the rest of the day on the balcony, keeping track of his family with the help of his ever-present binoculars.

Jerry Hoak died April 26 at the age of 73 after a bout with cancer.

A product of the generation that defined "community service," Jerry was active in numerous organizations and causes during his 38-year career with Potomac Edison, now Allegheny Energy.

The Mason-Dixon Council of the Boy Scouts of America received a lot of Jerry's attention over the years. Several friends and admirers left heartfelt messages on the Minnich Funeral Home Web site.

Among them were friends from Jerry's hometown of Luray, Va. A sampling said Jerry would be missed for his wisdom, thanked him for the memories and gave a testament to his devotion to Scouting.

"Jerry will be missed at Sinoquipe," one message said, referring to the Boy Scout district's camp in Pennsylvania.

Dale Bannon, executive director of the United Way of Washington County, said in his e-mail note that "Jerry was a dedicated volunteer and served our community with great distinction."

Bannon also said Jerry served as the United Way board president in 1985, and was awarded the Distinguished Jesse Kagle Service Award in 1991.

"Our Washington County community has lost a remarkable servant-leader. His legacy of dedicated service is an example for all citizens," Bannon said.

Lisa said she and her two brothers were rather evenly spaced, with four years between them.

The Hoaks used to go camping every summer. As the family grew to include Jamie and then Stuart, those trips and the size of the campers they traveled in also began to grow.

"It started small and worked its way up," Lisa said. On those trips, she recalled her father would be the first one up, gassing up the Coleman grill and lighting the Coleman lantern.

One summer, Stuart fell out of bed in the camper when he was just 4 or 5 years old, cutting his head, Lisa recalled.

The whole family took a midnight ride through New York to find a hospital.

"We were flying through the countryside," Lisa said.

They ended up meeting a lot of nice people and a doctor who reminded her of Marcus Welby.

While growing up, Lisa said she grew very close to her mother, mainly because her father either was working or involved in one of his many outside activities.

Even though she was a young child, Lisa said her mother made up for that absence, and explained that it was expected of her father to work hard and be involved in the community.

"After mom died, he became the very best grandfather to my kids - dad was always there for them," Lisa said.

Stuart remembers canoe trips with his father.

"We'd talk and just enjoy spending time with each other," he said.

Stuart said a defining quality of his father was his ability to see eye to eye with anyone, no matter from which walk of life they came.

"Dad always listened before saying anything," Stuart said.

Unlike Stuart, Jamie said he went the Scouting route - camping, fishing and bike riding on the C&O Canal. Some of those activities he did with his father.

"Dad was very extended-family oriented," Jamie said. "It's a lot of fun to have that kind of person in your life."

This summer, Lisa said the extended Hoak family is planning to go back to the beach.

"We are going to do all the same things we used to do with daddy," she said.

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