Barbara Hoch, formerly of Fishers Island, NY, and New London, passed away on Sunday, May 7, of natural causes at a nursing home in Greenfield, MA. After leaving the island in November, 2020, she lived with her sister in Greenfield for a year, before moving to a nursing home nearby. She was 91.
Born in 1931, Barbara’s early years were spent with her family experiencing the military lifestyle traveling from base-to-base as her father, Capt. Ralph Hoch, served in the Navy for 30 years as a doctor. She received her teaching degree from the University of Delaware and spent several years teaching both at public and private schools. When her father became the ‘island doctor’’ on Fishers Island in 1960, she eventually began spending more time on the island, teaching at the island school and serving as her father’s assistant during the busy summer months.
In the late 60s, she followed her younger sister, Carol Ann, to Ecuador to serve in a support role for Wycliffe Bible Translators, teaching high school English and running the Wycliffe Guest House. Later, she went to the Wycliffe ‘’Jungle School’’ in Mexico, to prepare for her work in Bolivia. There, she helped fledging schools in very remote locations in the Bolivian jungle, and helped train indigenous teachers. She had many adventures traveling to these schools, once capsizing in a canoe on a very remote river! In 1981, she received a Doctorate in Education from Penn State with a thesis based on her Wycliffe work which showed that children learn best in their indigenous language during their early years, while they begin to also learn the dominant language. This was a significant contribution to bilingual education, which was controversial in the U.S. at the time.
When she came back to the States, she returned to teaching at North Stonington Christian Academy, briefly organized a small, private Christian school in New London, and operated a small bookstore in New London, where she lived for a number of years. For a time, Barbara was very involved advocating for and supporting mental health services, including providing respite apartments and helping to start a theater company to help combat mental health stigma. She eventually moved back to Fishers Island to teach Spanish and substitute at all levels, retiring in 2013.
Barbara was known for her adventurous spirit, her strong faith, and her commitment to serve others. She was very active in the island’s Union Chapel and volunteered at the island’s library. She loved to take her many nieces and nephews on trips around the country and abroad. For many years, she and her sister, Carol Ann, would take a long annual car trip down south with a load of excess books from the library to distribute to libraries in impoverished towns, visiting relatives along the way. In her 70s, she chaperoned a school skiing trip, and couldn’t resist trying the slopes herself, breaking a leg. She loved her close friends on the island, Diane Dexter, Laura Edwards, the late Connie White, and the late Ione Norton. Among her favorite things were chocolates, playing board games, her different cats throughout the years, old movies, and reading the Bible and various thrillers, especially David Baldacci.
Barbara is pre-deceased by her parents, Ralph and Ethel Alice Hoch, her sister, Carol Ann Peffley, and her brother, Richard Hoch. She is survived by her sister, Susanae Glovacki (Jim), of Greenfield, her brother, David Hoch, of Fishers Island; her nephews Zachary Hoch (Stacy) of New London and Timothy Hoch of Fishers Island; her nephew Scott Peffley (Lyanne) and grand nephew Luke of Mansfield, CT; her nephew Roger Peffley of New York City; and her nephew Harlin Glovacki and niece Esther Glovacki of Massachesetts.
A memorial service is planned for a future date on Fishers Island. Please consider the Fishers Island Sea Stretcher and the F.I. Union Chapel if you would like to make a memorial contribution.