Vol. 1 - No. 11
Hoyt F. Houchen: A Great Man
by Bob Bolton
Appropriate to the life he lived was the passing, on the Lord's Day, October 3, 1982, of Harold F. Houchen. Born July 6, 1895, in the community of Hess, near Altus, Oklahoma, he lived and died “in the Lord,” having been “baptized into Christ” in 1907. While the family lived in Dill City, Oklahoma, brother Houchen was a student at Cordell Christian College from 1912 to 1915. On July 16, 1916, he was united in marriage to Laura Theresa Peratt who preceded him in death in 1975, after 58 years together. To this union was born one son, Hoyt H. Houchen, faithful gospel preacher and elder of the Boston Street church in Aurora, Colorado. Brother Houchen served as a deacon in the congregation in Dill City from 1919 to 1922 when the family moved to Calexico, California. In May, 1923, the Houchens moved to Ontario, California, where he resided unto his death. He served as a deacon in the Ontario church from 1926 to 1931, and as an elder from 1931 until the death of his beloved wife in February, 1975. Employed by the city of Ontario in 1942, he served as Superintendent of Parks from 1960 to 1965, when he retired. In addition to his son, Hoyt, he is survived by three grandsons: Ron of Fort Worth, Texas; Dennis of Aurora, Colorado, and Larry of Orange, California; eight great-grandchildren; and a host of loving brethren and friends. Memorial services were conducted in Ontario, California, on Friday, October 8, 1982, after which his body was laid to rest beside that of his beloved Laura in the Bellevue Cemetery, to await the resurrection. At the memorial service, Ford Carpenter of Montclair, California, a friend of the family for 42 years, spoke of the good influence of Harold Houchen, and I set forth reasons for his greatness which had been impressed upon me through 32 years of acquaintance and association with him.
Harold Houchen was a great man, not because of wealth, or fame, or political power, or popularity, but because he was a Christian. He was not only a “great Christian,” but he was “great because he was a Christian.” As a godly elder of the Ontario church for over 44 years, he left a rich heritage of example, worthy of the emulation of any man who may desire the office. He was a loving husband and a beloved son-in-law, a dutiful and caring father, and such a worthy example to his family that the name "Houchen" is destined to proudly survive ages to come.
As a faithful and responsible employee of the city of Ontario, he left the citizens a heritage of honesty, integrity, industry, beauty and happiness. He was a great man because of the life that he lived before his neighbors and friends, many of whom he led to "the lamb of God," and all of whom will cherish, in fond remembrance, his exemplary life.
He was a friend of so many gospel preachers, loving the word of God and those who faithfully proclaimed it, always ready to encourage them by his presence, his prayers, and his support. Yet, he was just as forthright in his opposition to religious error and those who espoused it.
He was my special friend, a man that I could count on, confide in, and learn from. For nine years, as I preached the gospel in Ontario, he and I walked, talked, worshipped, prayed, studied, worked, played, laughed and cried, together. He was such an inspiration and encouragement to me for so long, in so many ways, that happy are the memories I shall always retain of this great man, my friend.
Harold Houchen loved God, the Lord, the Bible, the church purchased by the blood of Christ, the Ontario congregation especially, his brethren individually and collectively, faithful gospel preachers, his family, his neighbors, his city, his country, his fellowman, his life, and indeed, he loved life itself. He gave so much, for so long, to so many. He gave his life, himself, his all, in service to others as he served the Lord. We take comfort in our pleasant memories of such a beautiful life, in how fortunate we are to have known and loved him, and in our faith and his faith in the word of God.
I believe that in the sight of both God and men, he was truly a great man, who "being dead yet speaketh." I shall miss him very much, even as shall his family and friends, but paraphrasing the words of a song sung by the congregation at his memorial service, because of him we "Count Our Many Blessings," and look forward to a glad reunion, in that great day, with Harold F. Houchen, a great man.