Remembering Ted Hoskins

Rev. Ted Hoskins — the former minister at Saugatuck Congregational Church, and one of the most influential clergy members in modern Westport history — died yesterday, one day after his 90th birthday.

He served Saugatuck Church as senior minister from 1971 to 1994. After leaving Westport, he lived in Isle au Haut, Maine. He continued his ministry on the seacoast there.

Rev. Ted Hoskins (Photo courtesy of Penobscot Bay Press)

In Westport Rev. Hoskins was known for his staunch advocacy of social justice, and for underserved populations. He was also a leader in the town’s interfaith clergy efforts.

In 1984, a fierce debate raged over the opening of a homeless shelter in the former Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road (now OKO restaurant).

The moral leadership of Rev. Ted Hoskins, Rev. Pete Powell, Rabbi Bob Orkand and businessman James Bacharach, plus the town support of 1st Selectman Bill Seiden, Human Services director Barbara Butler and David Kennedy, tamped much of the controversy.

The shelter opened. It was one of the first shelters in a suburban community — and still is, nearly 40 years later.

The Homes with Hope facility is now located on Jesup Road. Hoskins Place — a 5-bed facility for women — is named for the pastor.

Hoskins Place women’s shelter, on Jesup Road.

He was also active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. In 1971 — his first year in Westport — he marched in the Memorial Day parade in front of a banner urging peace.

In 2015, when Saugatuck Church was re-dedicated 3 years after a devastating fire, Rev. Hoskins returned as a guest preacher.

A full obituary — including funeral arrangements — will be posted when available.

Rev. Ted Hoskins (center) and Rabbi Byron T. Rubenstein of Temple Israel (right) march in front of a banner urging peace, at the 1971 Memorial Day parade.

19 responses to “Remembering Ted Hoskins

  1. Robert Orkand

    Ted Hoskins was an enormous presence in Westport. His commanding presence and booming voice allowed him to be a leader in projects that made Westport a better place. That was especially true when the idea of a men’s homeless shelter was proposed. I should add that the Rev. Pete Powell—who’s name is missing above—was among those who were instrumental in moving this project forward. Ted Hoskins was, in many ways, my mentor and friend. May his memory be an eternal blessing.

  2. David Kennedy

    What a giant of a man Ted was – with the gentlest of hearts – and with a true north moral compass that never drifted. What a gift he was to Westport and to so many lives.

  3. Lucinda Mirk Setnicka

    Rev. Hoskins married me and my husband almost 45 years ago at the house I grew up in on Greens Farms Road. Such a great man. His path would sometimes cross with my parents in Maine where they retired in the 70’s. My sincere condolences to his family and friends, may he rest in peace.💔

  4. Jill Turner Odice

    Ted Hoskins was such a a help to my family during my Dad Gerry’s battle with ALS. He helped us out afterwards with the memorial service and getting my Mom hooked up with the Jarvie Foundation. He helped guide me and my brothers when my Mom got Alzheimer’s and she needed to be moved into The Greens I. Wilton.
    He also helped out when I befriended a teenager who ran away from home. He got her into his program. I know he will be missed by many and remembered for his generosity and kindness.

  5. Hello. Thank you so much for this piece. This is Whitney, Ted’s stepdaughter, and Linda’s daughter.

    Alzheimer’s is truly a thief, as our family has come to understand firsthand these last several years. But, we remain in awe of – and thankful for – all of the immense work Ted was able to do in his lifetime in Wesport, in Downeast Maine, and in later years for the fishing communities of Belize.

  6. I loved the man and first met him about 1961 when he had a weekly meeting for teenagers. Twenty-five years later after returning to Westport Ted advised me and helped me open Mohonk Children’s foundation in Westport. We are still here and Ted is ALWAYS in our heart, especially mine. I love you Ted and thank you for making the world a better place!! David Singer

  7. Ted believed that the doors to the Meeting House should never be locked. In the 80s, when homelessness became a problem that could no longer be ignored, homeless people began sleeping in Saugatuck Church. They were moved into an unused classroom and provided with beds. Ted, Rabbi Orkand and many others from the Faith Community lobbied for a better location to provide shelter. On Christmas Eve, 1984 the Westport Emergency Shelter opened in the empty Vigilant Firehouse, 6 Wilton Road. This was only possible because of the moral leadership Ted, Rabbi Orkand and many other members of the faith community exerted. Homes with Hope exists because of these efforts. One of the great strengths of Westport has always been the strong bond between the houses of worship. The original name of Homes with Home, The Interfaith Housing Association (IHA) reflected the impact a united community of faith can have.

  8. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    Of course I am sad to hear that Ted has died but what an amazing life he had and how many lives he touched.
    Ted was actually at Saugatuck before 1971. When my brother and I were growing up in the 60’s Ted was our youth minister while studying at Yale Divinity School for his Masters of Divinity. I’m not sure where he was a minister before coming back to Westport and Saugatuck in 1971.
    My family moved away from Westport in 1969 but we were able to keep in touch with Ted through Maine Connections. We would go for vacations on an island near Isle au Haut and in 1974 my family moved year round to Stonington, Maine when my dad, Harry Scott, became Town Manager. That was where the Isle au Haut Ferry was stationed to get people out to the island.
    My brother, Jack Scott, went on mission trips led by Ted (after Ted retired from Saugatuck/Westport) to the town of Monkey River in Belize. The group forged quite a relationship with the town. The trips continued until the pandemic hit. Jack stayed in touch and visited with or called Ted ever since.
    I went on a trip on the Sunbeam when Ted was the Chaplain for the Maine Coast Missionary Society. This was also after his retirement. The ship continues today traveling to the outer and remote islands keeping the year round population connected and ministered to.
    Prayers to his family. I feel lucky to have known him.

    • Thank you, Bonnie. Of course, your family has been deeply important to Ted and Linda over the years. It was Glastonbury where Ted went after being the youth minister at Saugatuck, btw. And any donations in his memory will be directed to the Maine Seacoast Mission. They continue to do amazing work in support of the coastal (and now inland) areas of Maine.

      • Bonnie Scott Connolly

        Thank you Whitney. I appreciate your kind words. The Seacoast Mission is a perfect idea for donations. Much sympathy to you and Linda and Robin.

  9. I have known Ted for a very long time, so I felt I had to pay tribute to him in reading this sad news in 06880. In 1969, when I was in 10th grade at Staples, I was recruited for what was to be a new organization in Westport called the Westport Youth Adult Council. After attending a few meetings (to form a committee to form a committee), I decided to take action, and went to Ted Hoskins at Saugatuck Congregational church, who gave me, and my fellow Staples classmates, Guy Rabut, Dave Barton, and Michael Joseph, space to run a coffeehouse in the basement of the church, that drew 50-150 teenage kids on the weekends, with live entertainment, and food that we made in the kitchen there. It ran for two years in the basement of his church (eventually switching locations for another year to the basement of what is now Town Hall). Later, he allowed others to use the church for some of the first AA meetings, and for other supportive organizations. Ted was always a jovial, open minded, caring, and supportive person, who spread love and joy throughout the community. My mother Winifred, and father, George, were soloists in his choir at Saugatuck. My father became lifelong friends with him, supporting charities that Ted ran off the coast of Maine, and in Central America. Ted presided over my wedding in 1987, (on a boat in Norwalk harbor). Ted Hoskins was a man who loved life, loved being of service, helping others, and someone who listened with an open mind. A truly wonderful person. R.I.P Ted, you showed us by example, of a life well done.

  10. Deb Holliday Kintigh

    My body cries and my heart rejoices.
    As Ted would say, he has entered the Church Triumphant.

    Ted was larger than life to those of us teenagers who grew up in The Saugatuck Congregational Church in the 1960’s. He guided us, listened to us and helped us search for answers to the many teenage problems we encountered. He taught us how to acquire a spirit of generosity, to think about others more than we think about ourselves, to love and accept others for who they are, to care for those less fortunate than we and to advocate for those people who are marginalized by society. Under his leadership and as part of the weekly Pilgrim Fellowship Sunday meetings, we assisted with the Community Thanksgiving in the Fellowship Hall, we visited senior citizens in Newtown, CT monthly and went on retreats to “Holiday Hills” in Pauling, NY. We thought and discussed challenging subjects, we laughed and once or twice we may have tried to ride the cows in a neighboring field.

    Ted was part of our family life and offered assistance more than once after we had all moved away from Westport. He ministered frequently to our family when my Dad was ill with kidney disease. Oh, how his face would light up on those cold, frosty Easter mornings when we would arrive from out of town to attend Sunrise Service at Compo! He will always live in my heart and soul.

    Rest in Peace, Ted ~ you have made an indelible impression on so many lives and we love you.

  11. Barbara Wiederecht

    When we moved to Westport in 1987 my father and I attended the 8:30am service at Saugatuck to look for a church home to start to put down roots. After the service Ted came right over to us, introduced himself and invited us to coffee hour- that’s the kind of welcoming guy he was. We ended up joining and he baptized both of our children. I have a picture of one of the baptisms where my son was reaching up to pull his beard- Ted had a big smile on his face! A wonderful person for sure.

  12. Although Ted was my youth minister at Saugatuck when I was growing up, my real connection with Ted was here in Maine where I have lived for almost 50 years. His work with the fishermen in the Penobscot Bay was legendary. He was able to get many of them to listen to the scientists. He led trips to Central America for 20 years until he couldn’t physically make the trip. My wife and I were on almost every one. I feel blessed to have had him as a mentor and good friend. (and of course cribbage player). He taught truths not by teaching but by showing you a different way to see things. He taught me the value of listening and why it was so important in understanding situations. For that I am eternally grateful. He was a man of great faith and he gave so much to so many. It was hard to see him suffer through Alzheimer’s near the end but I was glad to help with that what I could. He always kept his strong handshake. Vaya Con Dios my friend.

  13. Melody James

    My deep condolences to Linda and Robin, and all of Ted’s family. THIS WAS A BEAR OF A MAN, A GIANT OF A MAN. He was with my family in some of our toughest times. Ted was here in Westport earlier than 1971 (as article states). He was the Youth Minister at Saugatuck Congregational Church while he was finishing at Yale Divinity School, I believe. I can see him throwing the football in the parking lot with the boys including my older brothers; the 1960’s. He directed me in one of my earliest plays. He LED the teen groups, gifted in so many respects. Our Pilgrim Fellowship (I was very active 7th-9th grades), took retreats to Holiday Hills, weekends of fun antics, dialogue, and finding our values. On the most personal note: in 1972-73 I was in the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s Obie Winning play in NYC, THE DRAGON LADY’S REVENGE. It revolved around the CIA’S CONNECTION TO THE HEROIN TRADE, the VIETNAM WAR, how WRONG IT WAS and how it was coming home to roost. The play was a hit, it was firmly ANTI US INVOLVEMENT IN THE VIETNAM WAR, and performing in NYC during the height of Nixon’s unrelenting bombing of the North. It was a HIT! I will always remember Ted bringing groups of Westport teens into NYC TWICE to see the play. TWICE! I remember struggles within the church and the town as Ted was a formidable ally for the homeless and those who’d fallen on hard times. And on the most intimate level, TED MARRIED STEVE AND ME IN MY FAMILY’S BACKYARD. He sat down with us to talk, I remember asking him to down play talk of Jesus🤣🥰❤️ . He married my Mom to her second husband Euclid Shook, and married my step brother Alex and Barbara. He was our spiritual guide, our pastor, our friend. HE WAS A SAFE PLACE for difficult questions and ideas. My Mom and I went to his retirement dinner, convinced we would continue at our church IF HE HAD STAYED. ENORMOUS LOVE AND GRATITUDE FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL MAN, and deep condolences to his family❤️🫶

    • Thank you so much, Melody. I have shared your kind and moving words and recollections of, as you aptly say, this giant of a man, with the family.

  14. I met Ted Hoskins on Isle au Haut, Maine about 50 years ago. The island was a magical place for many people, me included, as it was very remote (accessible only by boat) and at the time, had no electricity or telephone. During the summer months when Ted was on vacation from his Connecticut church, we would occasionally see each other at town landing, the island church, contra dances, the annual talent show and/or the annual clam bake.

    Fast forward to 1991 when we moved to Westport, Connecticut. Friends suggested that we join them at church one Sunday morning as they had the most amazing minister. I didn’t make the connection until we walked into the sanctuary that this was Ted’s church. As our eyes connected, we both said, “What are you doing here”? We soon became members of the Saugatuck Congregational Church where his adult and children’s sermons along with his amazing baritone voice were not to be missed. But there was so much more. Ted was a living legend in the Westport community through his commanding presence, moral leadership, compassion for others, and advocacy for the underserved. For the ten years that we lived in Westport, excluding the three years that we lived overseas, Ted baptized our two children while I served as an usher and later as a member of the board of trustees.

    I remember one Sunday morning, standing in the back of the sanctuary. As he was about to begin his sermon, I couldn’t help but notice that Ted had a very special twinkle in his eye while he was looking at a woman seated by herself. A new lady friend I thought. Of course, it was Linda, his soon-to-be wife. Some years later, Ted announced that he’d be leaving Westport. It was a sad day for the Saugatuck congregation when Ted departed to join the Maine Seacoast Mission aboard the Sunbeam where he’d serve the inhabited islands of the Penobscot Bay. Though we would all miss him, it made perfect sense to me.

    We left Westport in 2000 to return to Massachusetts and in January 2001 purchased a home on Isle au Haut. A few years later, Ted began to transition from the Sunbeam to focus more of his time and attention on his advocacy work in support of Maine fishermen. He was a founding board member of the Stonington Fisheries Alliance and the Belize Federation of Fishers where he helped to rebuild the town of Monkey River following a devastating hurricane. He was also actively involved in numerous community-based fisheries initiatives throughout Maine. It’s not a stretch to say that virtually every fisherman in the state of Maine knew Ted Hoskins.

    In 2003, Ted stopped by our island home one day to ask for my help. He knew two people that had some great ideas on how to secure a sustainable future for fisheries and fishing communities in Maine. Except for cleaning and eating lobster, I knew absolutely nothing about Maine fisheries. Wondering what I’d gotten myself into, the first board meeting of the Penobscot East Resource Center was held in our island living room the following week. Today, the continued growth and success of the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries is due in very large part to the vision that Ted Hoskins created decades ago.

    For many years until he retired in 2015, Ted was the minister at the Union Congregational Church on Isle au Haut where he led services in July and August, the only two months of the year that the church was open. Ted was an absolute pillar of the Isle au Haut community where he had a long family history and was loved and respected by everyone. He served as the annual town meeting moderator for many years, was a storyteller extraordinaire, had an amazing appetite, was the caller at the island contra dances and loved to go fishing. The Isle au Haut community along with many communities along the coast of Maine are in a much better place today because of Ted Hoskins.

    Ted was one of the most important mentors of my life. He was also a friend, neighbor, and colleague. My deepest sympathy to Linda, Robin, Whitney, and all those who knew and loved Ted Hoskins.