Father Hugh Assenmacher, O.S.B., age 85, monk of Subiaco Abbey, died peacefully July 24, 2018. Gerald "Jerry" Assenmacher was born Feb. 16, 1933, in Billings, Mo. He attended St. Joseph Elementary School in his hometown before coming to Subiaco Academy for his secondary education, graduating with the class of 1951. He professed his vows as a Benedictine monk on Sept. 14, 1953, receiving the name Hugh. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Albert L. Fletcher on May 15, 1958, at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. Following ordination, Father Hugh devoted the next four decades to the teaching profession at Subiaco Academy. From 1962-63 he studied in his home state, receiving an M.A. degree in history from St. Louis University, attending summer classes at Conception Seminary in Missouri. In Arkansas, he attended summer school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and the College of the Ozarks in Clarksville.
Father Hugh was an avid reader and loved historical research, especially in the archives of monastic communities. Prior to the Abbey’s centennial year of 1978, he spent a year researching and writing A Place Called Subiaco, a history of the Benedictine monks in Arkansas. He also authored history books of several Benedictine parishes.
As a history buff, Father Hugh’s greatest love was American history, especially the Civil War-era and the westward movement. Father Hugh was also Subiaco’s walking historian. With an insatiable affinity for the great outdoors, he led hikes and excursions for students, visitors and monks to points of interest in the surrounding ridges, lakes and streams in the foothills of the Quachita Mountains. Be it reading tombstone inscriptions in old graveyards, admiring God’s natural beauty of the region, hunting arrowheads, discussing Indian and native folklore or simply reveling in outdoor trivia, he made a memorable impression on his troupers through the decades.
In 1986, Father Hugh received a one-year appointment to serve as Prior of Santa Familia Monastery in Belize, Central America. Upon his return to the United States, he resumed his positions in the abbey and academy.
Through the years, he also held positions of vocation director, subprior, formation director, retreat master, chaplain, archivist, museum caretaker and groundskeeper. He held the job of monk-organists in the community for more than 50 years.
With the completion of the 2003-04 school year, Father Hugh resigned from his full-time teaching career. From 2014 until his death, he was assigned as sacramental inister at St. Mary Church in Altus.
Father Hugh is survived by two brothers, H.E. Assenmacher of Springfield, Mo., and Thomas Assenmacher of Kinsale, Va.
A Christian wake service will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday. The liturgy of Christian burial will be celebrated Friday at St. Benedict Church in Subiaco. Interment will be at the abbey cemetery under the direction of Roller Funeral Home in Paris.