Lois Roberts Hoskins

Date(s) of birth and/or death approximate

Date of Birth

January 1st, 1917

Date of Death

January 1st, 2011

Memorial Meeting

Salem Friends Meeting


Salem Friends Meeting 1917-2011 Lois was born of sturdy Anglo stock, into the Roberts/Mendenhall family on a farm in Idaho. Her life was shaped by the values of farmers, Quakers and educators, as daughter of the principal of Greenleaf Friends Academy. She was also shaped by an early and progressive loss of hearing which fashioned a unique balance between her compelling, inward self-creating and her interface with the outer world. She was original and bright. She directed her talents into service and giving, in addition to supporting and accompanying her husband, Lewis Hoskins, in his life work.

Lois attended George Fox University (then called Pacific College) and graduated from Northwest Nazarene College. She went on to work as a teacher, a librarian, a printer, editor and other literarily related fields. She married Lewis and supported them as he completed his PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

After three years she had her first child, Theresa Ann, and lived at Pendle Hill as Terry’s single mom while Lewis went to China with the Friends Ambulance Unit during China’s civil war. Lois and Terry joined Lewis in Shanghai, where Lois had her second child, Laurel Page. Lois managed the hostel housing the families of FAU members and other Quakers who passed through Shanghai, while caring for two small girls and wondering if Lewis was safe out in the war zones.

Lois and Lewis returned with their children to Pennsylvania, where their lives continued to nourish and be nourished by work with the American Friends Service Committee and residence at Pendle Hill. During this time, Lois gave birth to another daughter, Adrienne Ruth, and a son, Scott Ellis.

Lois worked as librarian at The School in Rose Valley to help pay her children’s tuition and acted as mother/hostess to countless exchange students and foreign luminaries associated with the AFSC. She gardened and cooked and baked and sewed and kept the revolving life of four small and two big people more or less in order while Lewis was often away on national and international travels. She never said no when she perceived a need for help and her behind-the-scenes presence made the visible accomplishments possible.

After a decade, the family moved to Richmond, Indiana, to become part of the Earlham College community. With the children still growing and demanding, she managed to volunteer for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the community center for disadvantaged families, assisting with international relief work, while participating in the diverse cultural and social life of the college and wider community.

During these years, she accompanied Lewis on sabbatical trips to Woodbrooke, England and repeatedly to Kenya, South Africa and China, always finding ways to contribute generously her own talents and skills to the people there and helping with anti-apartheid efforts. She was adept at fitting in and making warm friends wherever she went. Her literary and homemaking gifts were put to good use. Lois continued to be mother and hostess to foreign students and guests at Earlham as their life-long travels wove manifold long-term and long distance relationships.

When Lois and Lewis retired to his family cottage on the Oregon coast, the children were grown and flown and the parents were ready for a change. Throughout their twenty years in Lincoln City, Lois continued to support friends, community needs and the Quaker Meeting in Salem, which they traveled for an hour to attend weekly. She continued to oversee nights at the local battered women’s shelter well into her 80s. Nurturing her exceptional flower gardens, feeding the masses, sewing freely for others, and singing at the slightest provocation, Lois sustained a warm and inviting home for all who streamed to the beautiful Oregon coast. She never, ever stopped reading every printed word that appeared before her (which made food shopping sometimes a challenge). Lois could remember and review almost any author or piece of classic literature you present her with. She would tell you if it was quality or not-so-quality, and she was usually right. Her love of words and story were indefatigable. She was reading on the day she passed.

Lois was a beloved and honest friend to many younger women and shared those friendships with her daughters. She and Lewis, without batting an eye, held open house in a very small space, at least once a year, for a family which, with four children-in-law and seven grandchildren, became increasingly voluminous. She loved the planning, the activity and the excitement. She could fall asleep anywhere, as needed.

During this time, despite their retirement status, Lois continued to travel with Lewis by invitation to China to honor their past contributions and to teach.

In 2008, Lois and Lewis moved to Kauai, Hawaii, to live with daughter Laurie and her husband with whom they had been spending much of every year for 24 years. It was hard for Lois to give up her home and friends, but her interior life was so fertile and expansive that she never lacked for resources. Lois fell and tore a ligament which affected her mobility. This was a source of frustration and limitation to her but, as with all her changes of aging, she continued to be gracious and forbearing. For a woman as passionately independent as she, this must have been one of her life’s greater lessons.

After Lewis passed, Lois gradually became accustomed to the notion that she too would be leaving and, about a month before her passing, began to turn herself in that direction. Once her mind was made up she was determined but uncertain how to accomplish this. It could be frustrating for her but in November, she evidently figured it out, and slipped quietly and quickly away in her Kauai home. We miss her and also rejoice in her assimilation of all the layers of experience which constituted her rich life, into one peaceful moment of transition. We will continue to count on her celestial presence and illumination in our lives.

Gifts in her memory may be made to Pendle Hill, the American Friends Service Committee or Greenleaf Academy.