Feb. 25, 1950 — Oct. 5, 2018
Patrick Henry Hoak was a coach, teacher, restaurateur and Town of Hamburg supervisor. But the common thread uniting his life was his love of people, whether they were students, diners, friends or constituents.
"He lived so many different lives," said his nephew, Joseph Smith. But the unifying factor, he said, was that his uncle "could meet anybody and just start talking to them. He loved to help people, mostly in an informal way."
Mr. Hoak died Friday in Mercy Hospital after a long illness. He was 68.
The oldest child of Bertrand and Nora (Beasley) Hoak of Lackawanna in 1950, Mr. Hoak would later follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a state senator and the owner of Hoak's Lakeshore Restaurant and Hoak's Armor Inn in Hamburg.
Mr. Hoak attended St. Martin of Tours Elementary School and later Canisius High School and John Carroll University — alongside his friend, the late broadcast journalist Tim Russert.
At age 16, in the St. Martin Athletic League, he began what would be a lifelong baseball and basketball coaching career. He went on to mentor young athletes from Hamburg's Junior Baseball League, St. Bernadette Elementary School and South Buffalo's Notre Dame Academy.
Early in his career, he taught at St. Francis High School and the former Amsdell Middle School, both in Hamburg.
In 1977, the Hoak family opened the Armor Inn, which Mr. Hoak owned until the establishment closed in 2005.
He represented the interests of small business owners in the bar and restaurant industry as president of the Innkeepers Association of Western New York for 26 years.
Mr. Hoak owned a competitive harness racing horse, Bay's Fella. In 1990, with Bay's Fella a 60-to-1 long shot, he won the Breeders Crown Open Pace race.
Mr. Hoak first ran for public office in 1985 in an unsuccessful bid for the Erie County Legislature.
In 1987, he won election to the Hamburg Town Council, and became Hamburg town supervisor in 1992. A lifelong Democrat, he served as supervisor until 2005. "That was a nonstop job," said his nephew, who said he marveled to himself, "Where does he get the energy?"
Known for his jokes and colorful stories, Mr. Hoak was a natural behind the bar and, after his retirement from public service, returned to bartending at Hoak's Lakeshore Restaurant, now owned by his cousins.
Mr. Hoak's son, Randall Hoak, described his father on Facebook as "a giant of a man" who "shared love and understanding through his actions, and when necessary, through spoken word."
He was always meeting up with friends or chatting with them on the phone, said his nephew, Patrick Smith. "He was just nonstop."
"If you met him while you were thinking about something and weren't very social, he would start talking to you, and there's no way that you couldn't interact with him," said his nephew. "By the time he was done, he would have you cracking up and you'd be talking about a million different things."
He was a devoted "Papa" to his 18 grandchildren, his nephew said, taking them on trips and, in the winter, treating them to overnight stays in local hotels so they could enjoy the swimming pools. He often showed up at his children's homes to visit his grandchildren, said his nephew.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, in a statement released after Mr. Hoak's death, called Mr. Hoak "a great man with the soul of a servant."
"Anywhere a loving heart or compassionate presence was needed to lift others up, Pat Hoak was there to help," Mychajliw wrote.
Mr. Hoak is survived by his wife of 15 years, the former Sally Beach; three sons, Randall, Patrick and Timothy; a daughter, Karen; three stepchildren, Jessica Fleischman, Rachel Anzalone and Timothy Anzalone; two brothers, Bertrand and Dennis; two sisters, Mary Anne Smith and Dianne Higgins; 18 grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, 1140 Abbott Road, following prayers at 8:30 a.m. in Lombardo Funeral Home, 3060 Abbott Road.