Retired pastor of UCC known for engaging sermons

Published January 7, 2021

PEABODY — Rev. Dr. Harold B. Fohlin, 94, of Peabody, Mass., formerly of Keene N.H. and North Reading, Mass., died December 30, 2020, at Brooksby Village from complications after suffering a recent stroke.

He was the beloved husband for nearly 40 years of Barbara A. (Hilton) Fohlin. He was the loving and devoted father of Jim Fohlin, Sylvia and her husband Rob Mela, Howard Fohlin, Marybeth Smith and her husband Mark, Caroline and her husband John Latting, and Johanna Fox and her husband Wayne, and the proud step-father to Sue McKeown and her husband Mark, Beverly Haynes and her husband Jeff, and Jim Hilton and his wife Michelle, and wonderful Papa to all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son, Andrew.

Hal was a helper his entire life. Hal served in the Army during WWII and was stationed in Japan. On his return, he earned his undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from Georgia Tech and a Master of Sacred Theology and a Doctorate of Theology and Pastoral Counseling from Andover Newton Theological School.

After starting his ministry in Shirley, Mass., he later served as minister for 25 years at the Union Congregational Church in North Reading, from 1965 to 1990. Once Hal retired and moved to Marlow N.H., he continued to minister in several churches including East Alstead and Keene, before re-locating to Brooksby Village 14 years ago.

He was a wonderful and gifted minister, youth group leader and pastoral counselor, and was much loved by his parishioners. He performed countless marriages, baptisms, and funerals over his decades of service. Hal was well known for his humorous sermons that engaged his listeners and related to real life. He continued to preach and teach periodically at Brooksby Village, giving his last sermon over Zoom in August.

Hal was a consummate storyteller and authored several books including a collection of his sermons. He loved painting, photography, woodworking, and telling corny jokes. He was always actively involved in the communities in which he lived, serving on committees and associations in each one. At Brooksby, Hal participated in numerous plays, cabaret performances, and radio shows. He especially enjoyed spending time with his large, extended family. Wise, loving, witty, optimistic, and infinitely curious, Hal will be missed tremendously by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

A public memorial service will be held at a later date when safe to do so. In lieu of flowers, donations in Hal’s name may be made to World Central Kitchen ( or to the Brooksby Village Scholarship Fund, Philanthropy Office, 200 Brooksby Village Drive, Peabody, MA 01960. Checks should be made payable to Brooksby Village, Inc. Arrangements are in the care of the Croswell Funeral Home, 19 Bow St., North Reading. To leave an online message of condolence, please visit