Harold “Hal” Charles Doster was born March 6, 1931, to Donald “Mike” and Mary Lucille Smith Doster in Mayfield Village, Cleveland, Ohio. Hal fulfilled the role of “good and faithful servant” throughout his ninety-two years. He did this through roles as son, grandson, brother, friend, student, pastor, husband, teacher, father, uncle, coach, chaplain, grandfather, and great grandfather. He will be remembered first for his passion for Jesus, which led him to serve for most of his life in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, following in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, C.C. Smith. Next at the forefront are memories of Hal’s love for his family and his kind and generous heart. Hal left us for his eternal home on Friday, October 27, 2023, from Blue Ridge, GA, where he had been living for the past twenty years with his wife, Ann.
Hal was most certainly greeted at the gates of Heaven by a multitude of family members and Christian friends and colleagues who preceded him in death. As his son Don commented, “When you live that long, many of your friends and peers have passed, so I’m sure there is a huge party going on right now with family and friends in heaven!” Most notably, June Carolyn Marken Doster, his wife of forty-three years and also an ordained minister in the Christian Church, welcomed him joyfully, along with his parents, Mike and Mary, and both of June’s parents, Deloss and Helen Marken, also ordained ministers in the same denomination.
Many knew Hal as Reverend Doster. He began his ministry while still a college student, serving the Flushing Christian Church in Flushing, Ohio. He continued his education at Yale Divinity School where he focused on “town and country ministry,” and where he met his wife, June. Hal and June worked with four small congregations in Ohio following their graduation from Yale. Most of Hal’s more than seventy years in ministry and in higher education were at churches and institutions within the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. He taught ministerial services classes and was the assistant to the president at Bethany College, his alma mater, and continued to be active as a proud Bethany alumnus the rest of his life. Some knew Hal as Dr. Doster. He earned his PhD from the University of Michigan and subsequently worked in higher education as president and/or in administrative development at colleges including Alice Lloyd College (Kentucky), Potomac State (West Virginia), Culver Stockton (Missouri), Atlantic Christian (Barton) College (North Carolina), and Oglethorpe University (Georgia). When the kids started growing up and moving out, Hal transitioned from higher education to the full time ministry and served as the pastor of Brookhaven Christian Church and First Christian Church of Marietta, both in the Atlanta area. After retirement, he continued his work in the church as an interim minister wherever needed. After June passed away, Hal met and fell in love with Ann Bruce while he was serving as the interim pastor at First Christian Church in Griffin, Georgia, and they were married soon after at First Christian Church in Winder, Georgia. Reverend Hal also served as a hospice chaplain for several years, for the same hospice service that came to care for him during his last days. Hal and Ann made Cherry Log Christian Church in North Georgia their church home, where Hal was called to be the interim minister. He also served as an elder and leader for emotional support groups there. “Dad/Grandpa/Papa” performed the infant dedications of his children and several of his grandchildren. He also baptized most of them as they became willing believers in Christ in church baptisteries, lakes, and even in the Gulf of Mexico! These events are heartwarming and most memorable for the family.
Hal will be remembered by his friends and family for his love of sports, especially baseball and football. He was a University of Michigan fan for sixty years, an Atlanta Braves fan for forty, and most recently a Georgia Bulldogs fan. He played baseball as a young boy and college student, and even pitched in a farm league for the Philadelphia Phillies. He loved coaching youth baseball when his son Don was growing up. One of his favorite hobbies was boating and water skiing. He was incredibly patient when teaching kids to water ski - one summer church outing he succeeded in getting over twenty youth group kids up on skis in one day! He enjoyed watching his children and grandchildren play multiple sports over the years, from preschool and elementary summer swim meets to just a week before his death, while bedridden, he watched one of his granddaughter’s college soccer games livestreamed. Every time she had the ball, he exclaimed, “There she goes!”
We will all miss Hal’s incredible culinary skills – his famous spaghetti and meat sauce, Steak Diane, and his turkey gravy at Thanksgiving. He also really appreciated a good buffet. Most Chinese buffets in the South had met Hal at some point. Angel food cake with lemon icing was his birthday cake of choice, and boy did he love some pot roast and a good bowl of buttery popcorn! Hal enjoyed inviting close friends to the table, but also welcoming random guests to our feasts – the foreigner, the downtrodden, and the outcast. As children, we learned never to be surprised by a stranger sitting across from us at the Thanksgiving table.
He was an enthusiastic vocalist, and participated in church choirs, even well into his eighties. Video recordings of him singing in the Cherry Log men’s chorale can still be seen on the local television station in Blue Ridge from time to time. We kids and grandkids will all miss his calls to each of us on our birthdays, singing “Happy Birthday.” Thank goodness for voicemail, as we still have some of those recordings.
Hal is survived by his wife of twenty-three years, Ann Bruce Doster, who will miss his daily presence in ways that words cannot express. He is also survived by his sister, Nancy Ruth Doster Sarap. He left four children behind: Deborah, Diana, Don, and Denise, and sons-in-law Terry, Craig and Chip, and daughter-in-law, Lenore.
Fourteen grandchildren and their respective spouses will miss him: Rachel, Sarah, Emily (Gage), Christopher, Scoop, Zoom; Kristin (Cody), Megan, Maddie (Cam), Hunter (Lauren), Aaron, Hannah, Mary Beth, and Gabby. Hal recently became a great-grandfather to Gus and Grant, with a great granddaughter on the way. Extended family comprised of cousins, nieces and nephews, including nephew Jeff Marken, who lived with our family for several years, will all remember Hal with warm hearts.
Dad, Grandpa, Papa, Hal: We will do our best to carry on your legacy by glorifying God with our lives, smiling brightly to bring joy and positivity to others, being generous beyond our means, taking advantage of every opportunity to enjoy sports, and preparing and enjoying a great meal surrounded by both loved ones and new friends. Thank you for your love and service to all of us throughout your lifetime. You will remain a very special part of each of our hearts. We love you!
A celebration of life service will be held at Cherry Log Christian Church in Cherry Log, GA, on Saturday, November 18 at 2:00 p.m. with a reception immediately following in the fellowship hall at the church (1149 Cherry Log Street, Cherry Log, GA 30522). In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Cherry Log Christian Church, PO Box 289, Cherry Log, GA 30522.
Cochran Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Harold “Hal” Charles Doster. Send condolences and sign the guest register online at www.cochranfuneralhomes.com