Richard Charles “Mike” Hoeh died on Jan. 26, with his wife and eldest daughter by his side. He had been in home hospice care in Bethel, Maine, since a recent diagnosis of cancer.
He was born at Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain on July 18, 1930, to Frederick and Margaret (Morlock) Hoeh, both children of German immigrants who settled in Jamaica Plain in the 1880s and 1890s, and all members of the German Club (now Spontaneous Celebrations) in JP. Mike’s family lived in the building at the corner of Paul Gore and Centre Street, which was owned by the Morlock siblings at that time. When Mike was 10 years old, the family moved to Needham Heights, where he graduated from Needham High School in 1948. It was in the streams surrounding Boston in the 1930s that his life-long fishing passion had its beginnings.
Mike graduated from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio in 1952, and it was there that he met his wife of more than 60 years, Dolores “Lorrie” Bencina. They were married on April 7, 1956. Together they had three daughters. Three granddaughters, three grandsons, and one granddaughter-in-law were the pride and joy of their loving grandparents. All of them were able to visit or talk with Grandpa in the days before he died.
Mike early in life developed an unbounded love of the natural world, which he passed on to his children and grandchildren. He was an avid fisherman, especially fly-fishing for Atlantic salmon, with a lifetime catch of 60 salmon, most of which were returned to the river to live and procreate.
He and Lorrie spent their honeymoon in Algonquin Park, Ontario, where they caught many lake trout and a few brookies as well. Some of these were eaten! In subsequent years they returned with their daughters, and eventually the sons-in-law and grandchildren came and fell in love with the lakes and streams there and learned to fish for their supper.
Shortly after college graduation, Mike was drafted into the army during the Korean War. He became a member of the Army Security Agency, learning Morse code. When it came time for him to be assigned to a venue, he was told there were openings in Alaska and Hawaii, and, fisherman that he was, he chose Alaska (for the salmon, of course). The Army in its infinite wisdom then sent him to Hawaii, where he intercepted enemy code messages for the ASA. He was later teased quite a bit about his “onerous” overseas duty. Needless to say, he caught a few fish out of the Pacific Ocean while stationed there.
Upon his discharge from the military, he was hired by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, as a salesman/marketer of industrial rubber products. He continued with Goodyear for 30 years, and he and the family lived in Ohio, Albany New York, southeastern Massachusetts, once again in Ohio, and then another spell in Massachusetts. Retirement led him and Lorrie to Bethel, Mainein 1987.
Mike became involved as a volunteer in the Bethel community, including the Mahoosuc Land Trust, the Bethel Outing Club, the Bethel Historical Society, and a mentoring program at Telstar High School. Most of his time, however, continued to be spent traversing and monitoring the forests and streams of western Maine, usually with a large dog by his side. His lifelong habits of planting trees and feeding birds continued into his final year.
Richard is survived by his wife Dolores; daughter Cynthia Stancioff and husband Paul of Chesterville, Maine; daughter Katherine Griffin and husband Kenneth of Jamaica Plain; daughter Martha Siegel and husband Kirk of Bethel; grandchildren Elisabeth and Louisa Stancioff, Owen and Robert Griffin and Owen’s wife Liudmila Belyaeva, and Molly and Andrew Siegel.
Besides his parents, Richard was pre-deceased by his sister, Ruth (Hoeh) Smith (also born in Jamaica Plain) and his brother-in-law Frederick Smith, who both passed away in 2016 in Westwood.
A memorial service will take place later this spring in Bethel, Maine. Donations in his memory may be sent to the Mahoosuc Land Trust, the Bethel Outing Club, or the American Cancer Society.