James Hugh Magers was born on December 8, 1940, in Abilene, Texas to Hugh Thomas and Hazel Gilbert Magers. He died on November 3, 2022, peacefully at his home in College Station. He lived and died, as he would say “with a great deal of comfort” and in the hope of the Resurrection; and loved his family, friends, church, community, and caregivers. Though he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his 60', he maintained his sense of humor and wit to the day of his death.
Hugh grew up in Abilene with his parents and younger sister, Sarah, and attended Abilene public schools and Southside Baptist church. He loved singing and being rowdy, which caught the attention of his future wife, Joan Hill, when they were both in the choir at Lincoln Junior High. Hugh and Joan graduated from Abilene High School in 1959 but did not date until 1962.
In the fall of 1959, he left Abilene for College Station and the A&M College of Texas. As a member of Company B-1 and the Singing Cadets, he majored in History and earned a BA in 1963. He and Joan were married on June 1, 1963, at First Baptist Church in Abilene. They moved to Austin, where he attended the University of Texas School of Law. Here, his story takes a dramatic turn; he realized he “wasn’t sorry enough to be a lawyer” and while sitting on a park bench, God called him to the ministry as an Episcopal priest.
Hugh and Joan, now accompanied by baby daughter Laura, moved to Alexandria, Virginia where, with sponsorship from the Diocese of Northwest Texas, he attended the Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 4, 1968, at Grace Church, Vernon, Texas. His service to the church took him, Joan, Laura, and Clare over the state of Texas, where he worked in missions and parishes in Dalhart, Dumas, Perryton, Odessa, Eagle Pass, San Antonio, Sulphur Springs, Commerce, Fort Worth, Brownsville, Bryan, and Beaumont. He also worked for the dioceses of West Texas and Dallas, and as Director of Stewardship for the National Episcopal Church, eventually teaching in churches in all 50 states.
He was grateful to be able to celebrate both fifty years of marriage to his beloved wife, Joan Hill Magers, and fifty years of service as a priest in the Episcopal Church. A Calvinist, analytical thinker, and artist, he was known for sharp-witted sermons that challenged congregants to deeply contemplate scripture. He fiercely believed in radical generosity and in the gift of the resurrection. He summed it up best in an Easter sermon, saying “The Resurrection is God’s ultimate gift of love to humankind. When we enter it, we give up our illusions of being in control of our lives; we give up our duty to death. We give up living for ourselves. The Resurrection restores us to Eden, a place where we were in relation with God and joyfully loved and cared for all of the creation.”
In addition to his loving wife, Joan, he is also survived by his sister, Sarah Magers Brown; brother-in-law, Larry Brown; sisters-in-law, Jean Rodman and Charlice Mullen; Chris Ritzi; his delightful granddaughters, Megan Miller, Sarah Miller, Catherine Ritzi, and Teresa Ritzi; grandsons-in-law, Robert Tabb and Max Lannom; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Services will be held at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Bryan, his church home for almost twenty years.
Memorial gifts may be made to St. Andrew’s standrewsbcs.org or to Episcopal Relief and Development episcopalrelief.org.