Pastor served his island flock and the public for 50 years


POSTED: Saturday, April 04, 2009

Robert C. Loveless came to Hawaii from Wheaton College to lead a small United Church of Christ congregation, the first step in a life of service as minister, teacher and college president, radio commentator and government official that spanned 50 years.

; Loveless was founding pastor of Kaimuki Evangelical Church for 10 years and retired from First Chinese Church of Christ in 2000.

In the meantime he was president of Honolulu Christian College, which evolved into Hawaii Loa College and eventually was absorbed into Hawaii Pacific University. He was also a teacher and chaplain at Mid-Pacific Institute for 14 years.

Loveless, 87, died Tuesday in Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center.

“;He brought the values of his church to his work for the city,”; said Bob Dye, recalling Loveless' six years as director of the Model Cities program. Appointed by former Mayor Frank Fasi, Loveless headed the federally funded project to rehabilitate struggling urban areas.

“;The goal was to identify leadership in communities so it wasn't imposed from outside, but grew from inside. Bob did that very well. He was a real people person, compassionate and understanding,”; said Dye, a former Fasi aide.

The Rev. Ron Ching, a retired UCC minister, said Loveless had the same effect in his church work. “;He laid the seeds for many who would go on to seminary and into the ministry. He was a popular speaker at youth church camps. He was super-bright, a logical speaker. He was such a good teacher, people would take notes in church when he spoke.”;

Loveless joined KAIM Christian radio station's “;Start the Day Right”; program in the 1950s and added a broader dimension in the 1960s. His daily “;Perspective”; grew into a commentary on social issues. “;He was one of the first evangelical ministers to come out against the Vietnam War,”; Ching said.

Loveless composed numerous songs based on Scripture still being sung in churches. “;Bob and his father, Wendell Loveless (also a minister), wrote one of the most well-known gospel choruses worldwide, 'Every Day With Jesus,'”; Ching said.

He wrote reviews of Honolulu Symphony performances for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin for several years.

“;In spite of all the things he had to do, he always had time for us when we needed him,”; said his oldest son, Dave Loveless.

Loveless was born in Elgin, Ill. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Wheaton College in Illinois. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1945.

He is survived by wife Barbara; sons Dave, Bob and Jon; daughters Debbie and Ruth; brother Wendell; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Borthwick Mortuary. Friends may call after 6 p.m. The family requests no flowers or monetary gifts and suggests aloha attire be worn. Burial in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl, will be private.