His ministerial career covered 52 years—more than half a century given to shepherding members of 12 congregations from the Atlantic coast to the Midwest. It was a long, sometimes tough, but ultimately rewarding journey for Leo Hastie and his household. As a parsonage family, they experienced the mountaintops and the valleys, but even as death approached at the age of 91, Rev. Hastie could give testimony to the Lord’s faithfulness in song.
As a young man, responding to God’s call to ministry was difficult for Leo. It was the early ’40s, and he was a member of a popular gospel quartet traveling the country. The group’s journeys led them to a community where he encountered a talented pianist named Louise Fetterman. They fell in love, married, and soon after, she was expecting a child. But the pregnancy was not an easy one.
Complications posed a problem for both the mother and her unborn baby. At that point, Leo, who had been debating whether to continue touring with the quartet or accept God’s call to preach, made a promise, “Lord, If you spare my wife and child, and you want me to pastor, I’ll do it.” Mrs. Hastie and the child, Fred, survived, and Leo honored his promise for more than five decades.
One of four children born to the Hasties, Fred—the child of Leo’s promise—is now a retired builder living near Kansas City. He recalls growing up in a home where dad was busy pastoring, but mom was equally occupied caring for him and his three sisters, Mary, Ginnie, and Carol. “There were trying times when we really had to rely on God,” says Fred. “But we made it, and we got to see His work in our lives.”
One of those trials was the death of their mother from cancer at the age of 56. “It was tough,” Fred remembers. “She had been our rock at home, while dad was busy with church work.”
But even in the course of this loss, Fred says he believes God (and perhaps his mother) were at work. “Dad was pastoring at Powhatan Point, a little town on the banks of the Ohio River, about two hours east of Columbus, when mother got sick. Adalyn, a member of our church and a close friend to our mother, began serving as mom’s nurse. Adalyn had lost her husband about a year earlier, and I think mom helped pave the way for her to be there for dad once she was gone.” In 1979, about a year after Louise’s death, Leo and Adalyn were married.
They would go on to serve in churches like “Greene,” “Akron,” “Freedom Pine Run,” “Pittsburgh,” and “Riceville,” before Rev. Hastie, in 1995, would finally lay down his mantle.
As death approached in May of 2011, Rev. Hastie was confined to a care center, but his testimony of a life and ministry blessed by God reverberated into the halls as he sang:
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.*
It wasn’t long after his passing that the family received a commemorative plaque from Pensions and Benefits USA. The “Minister’s Medallion” was created to honor the Nazarene men and women who spend their lives in service for Christ and His Church.
“Our family was elated to receive the bronze medallion,” says Fred. “Dad would have been proud to have it on his headstone.”
But, Fred adds, securing the disc to the marker would prove to be a challenge: “We sent it to our uncle in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where our father is buried. Unfortunately, he suffered a severe stroke and couldn’t take care of it.”
As it turned out, Fred needed to return to Riceville, Pennsylvania, for the wedding of the granddaughter of someone his dad had pastored years earlier. He decided he would use the opportunity to travel the extra five hours to personally install the medallion.
“At the church, I talked with Ralph, a friend of ours. He and Brian, a young man dad pastored when he returned to Riceville in in 1989, said they would go with me to the cemetery to help.”
But even with help, a granite monument is a formidable foe.
“The temperature was in the 90s,” Fred recalls. “The cemetery maintenance man told us it was going to be hard to mount, and added, ‘I hope you brought lots of bits.’”
The group was prepared with a hammer drill and three carbide-tipped bits, so Fred began his task. “I drilled for a quarter hour and wasn’t making any headway. The granite was eating up the carbide bits, and I was wringing wet with sweat. So my friends urged me to give it up for the day and come back another time.”
But Fred is no quitter. He told them, “No, I’m gonna stay with it.”
The friends gave Fred a towel and a bottle of water before retreating to the shade of nearby trees, leaving him to continue his grueling chore.
“I was trying to drill 3/4 inch deep, 3/16 inch wide holes to fit the two pins for the medallion. I worked for better than an hour, burned up two bits, and had at least a half inch to go—with one bit left. Right then, I thought, ‘Boy, I need some help.’ So, I just bowed my head. It sounds like a small thing, but I said, ‘Dad, I know where you’re at, and you have an Advocate up there that you can go to. We need His help immensely down here right now, and if there’s anything He can do to help us out, I’d appreciate it.’
“I had no sooner said that than something told me, ‘Switch to the higher speed on your hammer drill.’ I did, and started drilling those holes. I noticed the bit was going in a lot easier, so I measured and thought, ‘Hey, it’s going in.’ I moved from hole to hole, back and forth, and within 15 minutes I was finished. “
As Fred walked to the shade of the trees, one of his friends asked, “Did you decide to give up?”
“No,” Fred explained. “It’s done. But I think I had some help.”
The faithful son and his friends went on to attach the medallion to the stone with industrial strength epoxy. “It worked,” says Fred. “It’s on solid.”
Looking back, Leo’s son has no regrets, “It was 1,100 miles and a lot of work, but it was an honor to do it.”
In parting, Fred reflects on the experience: “Just a simple prayer—I believe God can intervene even in small things, and I believe that’s what happened at my father’s grave that day.”
When asked what his dad might say about the whole thing, Fred concludes: “Thanks, and well done, son.”