Kenneth R. Hoyle: My Friend (1927 – 1998)

By Truman Smith

If my memory serves me right, it was in 1957, while I was preaching for the Lacey Lakeview Church of Christ in Waco, Texas that I first met Kenneth and Sammie Hoyle. While Kenneth had been preaching full time for some five years prior to that time, he and Sammie had moved to Waco where he had gone into secular work and was preaching part time. Though I do not recall the exact time or place of our first meeting, I am almost certain that it was at a gospel meeting somewhere in the Greater Waco area, for wherever there was a gospel meeting in progress, if it was at all within driving range, Kenneth and Sammie were in attendance. As a matter of fact, they would often drive many, many miles to hear the gospel proclaimed in such efforts. As many of you know, those were the years before institutionalism and related issues had brought about the major division among the churches of Christ. His first full- time work with a non-institutional congregation began in Borger, Texas in 1960. They always remembered with much fondness the pleasant years spent in their work at Borger. Kenneth was a Texas preacher. He also did local work with such churches as La Porte, Nacogdoches, Rosenberg, Texas City, and West Orange. However, in 1991 they left their native state of Texas and moved to Louisiana to help in the establishment of a faithful church in the city of Lake Charles. They started meeting in the Kinder Care Learning Center, where they met for nine months before finding the present meeting place, 3919 Auburn Street, a facility belonging to a denomination. They were able to purchase that place in May 1993. Sammie said that this work was Kenneth’s “joy and crown.” She said, “He was never, never happier, for unity and love abounded and it was all based on ‘a thus saith the Lord.’”

However, it was while engaged in the work in Lake Charles, Louisiana that he developed a very strange type of pneumonia, and though they were able to bring the pneumonia under control, it had weakened his body to the point that he became unable to recover from the damage it had done. He struggled for forty days in the Intensive Care Unit of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, Texas. His faithful wife, Sammie, was ever by his side. Finally, when he had used up all of his strength to fight any longer, on February 25, 1998, his immortal spirit slipped away from his body and went back to God from whence it had come more than seventy years ago.

Kenneth was born on September 12, 1927 near Abbott, Texas. He and Sammie met in Hillsboro, Texas and were married there on June 1, 1947. They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary last year. Two adopted children, Jan and Lynn, preceded Kenneth in death. After waiting many years from the time they were married, two lovely daughters, Karen and Mary, were born to them. Now they have six grandchildren and two very fine sons-in-law, David Kibodeaux and Norman Harrison.

Kenneth Hoyle was my friend. I cherish the memories of the many precious moments we spent together discussing Scripture, worshiping and working together for the cause of Christ. We both served on lectureships and gospel meetings in places where we were each located through the years. We spent many happy hours together, visiting and conversing socially along with our wives. He was a joy to be with and a true fellowlabourer in gospel work. I never knew a more dedicated soldier of the cross. His wife, Sammie, was a faithful companion. I do not remember ever seeing Kenneth at a gospel meeting without Sammie by his side. And they worked together in the Lord’s work. Upon learning of his passing, I had difficulty controlling my emotions, for I knew how we would miss him. And, I knew that the ravages of ill health had brought to an end the life of a good man and the work of a fine preacher of the gospel at a time when the likes of him are sorely needed.

There were six speakers at his funeral service which was conducted on February 27: Norman Harrison, Tim Paschall, Tony Noll, Carl Vernon, Hayes Reneau and Larry Ray Hafley. David Kibodeaux led congregational singing. A grave side service was held for him in Hillsboro, Texas on February 28 with Billy Dollar, a long-time friend, conducting the service. It was there that his frail body was laid to rest. Yes, we will miss our friend, but we “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). And, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13).

Just here I wish to make a sincere plea to our vast brotherhood. Through all of those years, Kenneth and Sammie Hoyle gave their lives to the work of spreading the gospel. And, like so many, they just trusted the Lord for their future. The only income Sammie has is a Social Security check she is to receive each month, which is not very much. But with the help of her two wonderful sons-in-law, she will not go hungry. However, she hopes to raise enough money to build a small, modest home on a daughter’s place. If there is anyone reading this who happens to have a little money to spare, you may send it to Mrs. Kenneth R. Hoyle, 4310 Dean, Lake Charles, LA 70605. Sammie will very much appreciate just whatever amount you might be able to send. If you are unable to send any funds, but would just like to write her a cheerful note, please do so. And let us all remember her and her good family in our prayers.