Claar, Rev. Herbert E.


The Rev. Herbert (Herb) Ellsworth Claar, M.Div., 86, was called to his Heavenly home on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. He died peacefully and pain free at I.U. Health Ball Memorial Hospital, Muncie, in the presence of family and God's angels, following complications from aspirated pneumonia.

The youngest of three sons, Herb was born Feb. 15, 1929 in Alum Bank, Pa. (Bedford County), to the late Clyde Adam Claar and the late Mae Grieff Claar. After high school graduation, he apprenticed and then worked in the construction business as a plasterer for seven years, until God called him into the Christian ministry.

Growing up in poverty, he and his brothers were lovingly reared by his hardworking single mother, who set a Christian example for her sons. Herb was always grateful for his hometown church, the Alum Bank EUB Church, and the Christian examples and mentors he had there.

At age 25, Herb enrolled at Marion College (now Indiana Wesleyan University), a Christian liberal arts school in Marion. Graduating in 1958, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a history major and a double minor in Biblical literature and English literature. He was always thankful for his godly professors.
While in college, he led three traveling Gospel Teams, served as jail evangelist, was YTC president, and was elected Student Council president. During those four years, he worked full time, established his own plastering business and provided employment for other students. In his senior year, he met and married a "lowly freshman" girl, Marcille Elaine Staton, who caught his eye in Spanish class. They married on Aug. 30, 1957 at the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Argos.

After graduation, Herb enrolled at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. for three years. He graduated in 1961, earning a Master of Divinity degree. He and his wife both held full-time jobs during those years, plus serving as youth directors and Sunday school teachers at the Short Street Wesleyan Methodist Church in Lexington, Ky. Herb also served as a jail evangelist. As a result of his strong work ethic, the help of his wife and God's blessings, Herb finished college and seminary completely debt free, owning a mobile home and new car.

Licensed in 1960 and ordained in 1961 by the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the EUB Church, Herb was appointed pastor (1961-1964) to the Oak Ridge Charge of four churches: Fairmount City, Truittsburg, Mount Zion and Oak Ridge, Pa. Then he served Trinity EUB Church in Portage, Pa. (1965-1974) where his two sons were born. Meanwhile, the EUB and Methodist denominations merged, forming the world-wide United Methodist Church.
From 1974-1983, he pastored First UM Church in Punxsutawney, Pa. While there, the congregation sent the Claars on an all-expenses paid trip to the Holy Lands of Jordan and Israel. From 1983-1991 he served Circleville UM Church at North Huntingdon, Pa. He pastored Port Vue UM Church, McKeesport, Pa. from 1991-1994, retiring from full-time pastoral ministry at age 65.

Throughout his ministry, Herb placed a strong emphasis on evangelism and world missions, increasing the mission budget at each church and encouraging annual Mission Conferences with guest missionary speakers. Church members were encouraged to participate in short-term experiences on mission fields. He personally went to Haiti and Jamaica.

An admirer of the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham's evangelistic ministry, Herb encouraged his churches to actively support the Crusades held in Pittsburgh, arranging bus transportation for the communities he served. He personally attended three B.G. Schools of Evangelism in Pittsburgh, Boston and New York City, and served as a counselor at four Crusades.

During Herb's pastorates, he emphasized spiritual revival and growth, prayer ministries, in-depth Bible studies, robust Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible Schools, strong children's and youth programs, and community outreach. His congregations opened their doors to Boy and Girl Scout troops, preschools, weight loss programs, barbershop singing groups, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, high school football teams and coaches for prayer, and a food pantry.
He encouraged building and remodeling projects, working with church trustees to enhance facilities. Despite many chronic health problems, he put in many 50- and 60-hour weeks as pastor, still finding the time and strength to be a good husband and father. Through it all, the Lord always enabled him to meet the needs of each day's tasks.

Following retirement, the Claars moved to Muncie to join the headquarters staff of Christian Service International, a missions organization providing short-term ministry opportunities in the USA and abroad. He served part time on the CSI staff for five years, while serving the Muncie District of the U.M. Church as an interim pastor, called to fill the pulpit for varying lengths of time in 18 churches over 42 months.

He became a part-time courier for Mutual Federal Savings Bank in Muncie for nine years. He was hired on staff at Gethsemane UM Church in Muncie, and served as part-time Minister of Visitation for nine years, until fully retiring at age 80.

Throughout his ministry, his greatest joy was to see 30-plus individuals answer Christ's call to ministry. His "life verse" was Matt. 6:33 – "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

In additional to his parents, Herb was preceded in death by two brothers, John Junior and Perry Christian Claar; a sister-in-law, Elsie Thyra Gaudig Claar; a nephew, John Steven Claar; a brother-in-law, Theodor N.F. Wong; and his beloved mother-in-law, Norma Elaine Staton.

Besides his beloved wife of 58 years, Marcille, Herb's surviving relatives include two sons, Victor Vyron Claar (wife, Valerie) of Hot Springs, Ark. and Trevor Adam Claar of Muncie; one granddaughter, Ashley Nicole Claar of Carnegie, Pa.; three stepgrandsons, C. Alexander Bearden (wife, Sarah) of Stafford, Texas, Benjamin M. Bearden (wife, Rachael) of Jackson, Miss. and Thomas Bearden of Hot Springs, Ark.; 12 nieces and nephews; eight great-nieces and nephews; a great-great-niece; a great-great-nephew; plus much-loved brothers- and sisters-in-law by marriage, Marcia Claar, Bob and Sharon Petty, Fern, Vyron, Victor and Marilyn Staton, Dennis and Edith Harrington and Frieda Wong.

Herb willed his body to the Indiana University School of Medicine for teaching and research. Upon future cremation, his ashes will be returned to the family for burial at Maple Grove Cemetery in Argos. At that time a Celebration of Life service will be held in Argos with a graveside Service of Committal. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." (Rev. 14:13)

In lieu of flowers, please send a tax-deductible memorial gift to: Office of Advancement, Asbury Theological Seminary, 204 N. Lexington Ave. Wilmore, KY 40390-9989; and designate your gift for the "Western PA UMC Students Scholarship Fund". Thank you.