Marjorie (Marge) Miller Hohensee
1920 - 1990
Marjorie (Marge) Hohensee was a pianist and organist with Faith for Today from 1953 to 1960. She was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on August 31, 1920, the only child of Palmer John and Harriet Maude Bickell Miller. She was raised in Lincoln and studied piano beginning at an early age with her mother.
Although she started at Union College, Marjorie eventually earned bachelor's and master's degrees in speech therapy at the University of Nebraska, being one of the first persons to complete a graduate program at UN in that area. While attending UC, she met Herbert Hohensee and became his accompanist. They dated and were married in Denver, Colorado, on December 24, 1942, while he was in the armed services.
Herbert was trained as a Lab Technician at Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver, but was transferred to Texas to open a hospital at McKinney, Texas, where he worked as a medical supply Sergeant. An excellent typist, he was recruited by the Captain of the medical supply office to type, a job he held for the three years he served in Texas. He was one of eight enlisted personnel who had opened the hospital in McKinney, Texas, and one of the last eight to leave. During this time he became known as "Ho," a name he liked and would be called by for the rest of his life by friends and family.
While he was serving in the army in Texas, the Hohensees attended an evangelistic crusade conducted in Dallas by Fordyce Detamore. Bob Metcalfe was the singing evangelist for the crusade and soon befriended them. In the fall of 1946, Metcalfe invited them to join him for his own crusade in Toronto, Canada, where he spoke, Herbert sang, and Marjorie was the pianist. This was the beginning of their music ministry for the church. After that winter in Canada, they returned to Lincoln, where Herbert completed a degree in music at UC and she completed her studies at the university. He began teaching music at UC during his senior year and then taught for two more years.
In 1950 they moved to New Jersey so that Herbert could pursue graduate study at Westminster Choir College. That fall, just as he was starting his studies, a fellow WC student, who was not a Seventh-day Adventist but was singing in the quartet at the Faith for Today television program on an interim basis, informed those on the program about Hohensee.
The program, a pioneering endeavor on the part of the church that had started a few weeks earlier, invited him to sing in its male quartet. Although Hohensee started on a part-time basis in October, by February he had been hired full-time and began working to form a permanent quartet.
When he joined the Faith for Today quartet, Marjorie also joined the program staff. She started the Bible School, and for a short time was editor of Telenotes, a monthly paper sent to viewers. In 1953, when a vacancy for organist on the program arose, she agreed to "fill in" for three months while a search was made. The three months became eight years, as she served as organist full-time until 1958 and then as needed until 1960.
Shortly after they had moved to New Jersey, Marjorie was hired by the State Teachers College in Newark to teach the basic public speaking class required of all potential teachers in the state, as well as direct the speech clinic, which was well-known in northeastern New Jersey. In 1960, she was hired by New York City as an itinerant teacher for children with speech problems, working with over 300 students each week in six different schools.
Since she was working in a fairly new field, she had to develop her own lesson plans, approaches, and techniques. She held this position for eleven and a half years and although she was within six months of being able to retire with a full pension when Faith for Today moved to California in 1972, she disliked New York so much that she moved, in spite of the financial loss.
In California, Hohensee was hired by the Ventura school system to teach language disturbed children. In handling children with behavioral and emotional as well as speech difficulties, she leaned heavily on the writings of Ellen White.
She believed that even those with learning challenges could make progress if multiple sensory stimuli were used and creatively applied her concepts in the learning process, with great success. Hohensee established relationships not only with her students, often becoming a mother figure to them, but also with parents, letting God use her to help them through crises in their own family affairs. She established some beautiful relationships with Christian colleagues that opened her eyes to the fact that God really did have "other sheep" beyond the sheepfold of Adventism. She taught for 24 years, retiring in 1984.
Hohensee had strong convictions about the importance of constructive early childhood experiences and came to believe that what pregnant women experienced influenced prenatal development. Her belief in the latter concept predated widespread acceptance of that idea.
In spite of her busy schedule as a teacher, she still found time to play piano and organ, activities she thoroughly enjoyed. She was the only accompanist her husband would use in his many appearances as a soloist.
With her talents in speech and his talent of singing, after retirement the Hohensees presented sermons that intertwined solos throughout the message. These musical sermons were a powerful blessing to their listeners.
In 1978, Margie and "Ho" attended a Marriage Encounter. They became leaders in that weekend program and presented over 100 weekends in the next twelve years, helping over 3000 couples make their "good" marriages "great."
In December 1990, Marjorie, along with her brother-in law and Herbert's mother, were killed in a car accident involving a drunken driver. Although her husband, Herbert, and his sister were also in the car, they survived.
This sudden death of a person that many knew and loved stunned both the family and her many friends. A number of memorial services were held in the days that followed which mourned her death and celebrated the impact she had had on the lives of many.
Sources: Interviews with William Hohensee (son) ,3,4,21 October 2007, and Hari Butsch (daughter), 7 October 2007; Virginia Fagal, This is Our Story, Pacific Press, 1980; Dan Shultz, "The Trumpet Shall Sound . . . ," International Adventist Musicians Association Notes Summer/Autumn 2007, 4,5.