A Tribute to Lee Hough

Lee Hough went home to be with the Lord today after a long bout with a gioblastoma brain tumor.  He was 58 (my age) and one of my best friends.  I got the news as I was driving to Illinois to see my parents.  I’m not ashamed to say that I wept all the way through the state of Kentucky.

The reason I’m tell you, my readers, about Lee is because he has impacted many of you without you even realizing it.  You see, Lee was my literary agent.  He is one of two people who are primarily responsible for my writing career.  One is Karen Kingsbury and the other is Lee.  Karen opened a door for me.  Lee helped me sharpen my skill and represented me with dignity and absolute integrity.  My wife knows better than anyone how Lee helped me believe in my God-given ability.  I have always struggled with inferiority, and would naturally be inclined to back away from opportunities out of fear.  Lee’s constant cheerleading gave me the courage to take my place in one of the toughest industries there is.

As my literary agent, Lee was the bridge between me and my readers.

For example, one of my dearest friends is Jaja Ore.  Jaja lives in the Philippines.  She is a dynamic Christian that Marilyn and I love dearly.  She even calls us her Florida mom and dad.  The reason I know Jaja is because years ago she read my book, The Caleb Quest, and wrote to me afterward.  The reason that book got published is because of Lee Hough.  He took my idea and helped me shape it.  He critiqued it with great insight.  He challenged some of my thoughts.  And then he represented the work with incredible enthusiasm and ended up negotiating a deal with Thomas Nelson publishers, who sent it all around the world…right into Jaja’s hands.

Please allow me one more story.

I was writing my first novel a couple of years ago.  I’d written 9 nonfiction books at that point, but never fiction.  Fiction is a different animal, believe you me.  I had about one-third of it finished, about 30,000 words.  I sent them to Lee for his critique.  I’ll never forget the phone call I got about a week later.  It was life changing.

Lee spent over an hour on the phone with me.  He went on and on about how much he loved my writing and the idea of the book.  However, he kindly told me that I was making a fatal mistake that would ultimately ruin the book.  I got a pen and paper and took notes as he taught me one of the keys to writing good fiction and showed me how my manuscript was flawed.  He said, “Turn to page 39…now turn to page 44…” etc.  It was obvious that he had dug deep into my work and was trying as hard as he could to get important truths into my head.

Immediately, I went back and rewrote those 30,000 words with his advice echoing in my mind, and then kept going.  That novel eventually won two literary awards.  Those awards hang on the wall of my home office, but trust me, they belong to Lee.

I know there are lots of other authors who would tell similar stories.  The man had a phenomenal gift, which is no doubt why, this past summer, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Christian Bookseller’s Association’s annual convention

But here’s what I loved the most about this amazing man: it was never, ever about the money.  Not once did I ever hear Lee critique one of my ideas based on whether he thought it would make money.  It was always about the message and how it might impact the Body of Christ.  On several occasions I had writing offers that would have made us both some money, but Lee advised against them because he felt they weren’t right for the kingdom.

I am so full of love and respect for this man that I could write all night.  Just know this: if you’re a Christian, you lost a good brother today.  The kingdom on earth lost a valiant soldier.  And if you know me through my books, the bridge that brought us together is no more.

Oh, but the angels in heaven are singing a happy song.  And I know Lee is digging his new body, one that has no scar from ear to ear.

Next spring I have a new book coming from Thomas Nelson.  It was my last collaboration with Lee.  It will be dedicated to him.

Please be in prayer for Lee’s wife, Paula.  She is amazing in her own way.

Thanks for reading, and for allowing me to go in a little different direction today.




This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to A Tribute to Lee Hough

  1. Lisa Peto says:

    It is hard to lose a friend. I am sorry for your loss, it was definitely all of our loss. I pray God’s peace on you and all whose lives were impacted by him.

  2. Joan page says:

    I am so sorry to hear of your dear friend’s passing.. He sounded like a wonderful man & a great inspiration to you. It is so painful to lose someone so dear to you. The good news he is now healed & with our Heavenly Father. Our prayers will be with his wife & family & also with you as you grieve your friend!

    Very well written Pastor Mark!
    Joan Page

  3. Klaus Roetsch says:

    You are not just a Pastor, you are one of us, your congregation.. Thank you for sharing your feelings. My condolences.

  4. Chuck Hildbold says:

    Great tribute. Praise God that He gives us special people. You are in our prayers. And, what will your book be about?

    • Mark says:

      Chuck, it’s called The Solomon Seduction. It’s a men’s book in the vein of The Samson Syndrome. It chronicles Solomon’s seduction in 1 Kings 3-11, and offers warnings for modern men. Incidentally, The Samson Syndrome is now 10 years old and will be rereleased on the same day with a new cover. Blessings to your ministry!

  5. jocelyn h. ore says:

    Hi Pastor Mark,

    Your tribute to Lee Hough was so touching.
    It reminds of me of your books shared by Jaja to her Papa.
    May more lives will be touched by your insights.
    My prayers to the family of the late Lee Hough, and to your family, too.
    Thank you for loving my only daughter, jaja.
    Godbless your ministry, Ptr. Mark.


    • Mark says:

      Jo, you must be an amazing mother to raise a daughter like Jaja. You should write a book on parenting!!!! 🙂 Thank you for your kind words. Perhaps someday we will meet. I hope so.

  6. Danny says:

    Sorry about your loss Mark. And thank you for sharing this story. Our prayers go out to his family!

  7. Marg says:

    Mark I am very sorry for your loss of such a wonderful friend, Lee Hough. I also want to thank you for sharing with us his story and of also your friend Jaja. you are a remarkable person Mark and you reach many of us that your not even aware of. Thank you for being our Pastor.
    Condolences to both you and your family.

  8. Rosan says:

    Mark, I am reading this and crying at the same time. I feel your loss more than you know. Great friends and mentors are so hard to come by these days. I pray that the pain of losing your dear friend and brother will be lessened in time. We can rest assured though, that he is breathing celestial air and walking streets of gold. Halleluah.

  9. Sugaree says:


    There are never any “right” words, but I am sorry to her about your friend. It is a difficult time for those left behind. His wife will be in my prayers.

  10. Dolores says:

    We are very sorry for the loss of your friend and our brother in Christ. We will keep
    you and all that know him in our prayers as the next few days will be difficult for those
    he left behind.
    You story about Lee was interesting. Praise God for his promise of eternal life.

  11. Barbara says:

    A friend just posted this. The words are so appropriate for you right now, and for all of us always.
    “Death is not a period that ends the great sentence of life, but a comma that punctuates it to more lofty significance. Death is not a blind alley that leads the human race into a state of nothingness, but an open door which leads man into life eternal. Let this daring faith, this great invincible surmise, be your sustaining power during these trying days. Now I say to you in conclusion, life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of its summers and the piercing chill of its winters. And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.” (MLK, Jr.’s _Eulogy for Martyred Children_)

  12. Shannon Costanzo says:

    Sorry for your loss. I will be praying for Lee’s family. May you find the Lord’s peace during this difficult time. Hugs!

  13. Donna Tell says:

    Pastor Mark, my heartfelt condolences for Lee’s family & his extended family…your family. To have such deep feelings for such a dear friend is truly a gift from God. Lee’s location may have changed, but his spirit lives on in you! So, close your eyes and think of all the wonderful memories you have of Lee, that will get you through the difficult “missing him” stages. My love & prayers are with you at this very difficult time. God Bless, take care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *