Hunter P. Mabry, 82, of Roanoke passed away on Saturday, July 9, 2016 after a long struggle with chronic radiation damage to his intestinal tract many years ago. Born in Timber Ridge in Rockbridge County, he was a native of the Shenandoah Valley. During his youth he lived in the Waynesboro area and graduated with the Wilson Memorial High School class of 1951. Later, he completed his B.Sc. in Rural Sociology at the then Virginia Polytechnical Institute (Virginia Tech), his B.Div. at the Candler School of Theology (Emory University) and served as a missionary to the Philippines, 1959 to 1963 under the Board of Missions of The United Methodist Church.Desiring to help train persons to become pastors, he completed his Ph.D. in Sociology of Religion and Social Ethics at the Boston University School of Theology in 1969 and over the next 25 years served on the faculty of the United Theological College, Bangalore under the sponsorship of The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries (GBOGM) where he helped to train students at the B.D., M.Th. and D.Th levels. His published writings include Christian Ethics, An Introductory Reader, The Christian Clergy in India, Vol. 1, Social Structure and Social Roles, and Manual for Researchers and Writers.He was preceded in death by his late parents, William P. and Hallie Kemp Mabry. Survivors include one sister, Marie Lowe, who lives in Mississippi; his beloved wife of 53 years, Dr. Esther Galima Mabry; son, Philip of Waynesboro; and daughter, Ruth of Oman; along with son-in-law, Abdulrahim Al-Bahlani; and grandchildren, Malik and Zakaria.After his retirement from the GBOGM in 1996, he devoted much of his time and energy to voluntarism – he was one of the founders of the Virginia Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Justice and of the Augusta Coalition for Peace and Justice; participated actively in other social justice established organizations such as Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and Virginia Organizing and initiated actions on issues such as restoration of voting rights and opening of job opportunities to ex-felons who have paid their debt to society.A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, 2016 at the Jesus the Redeemer Church, 1501 Hollins Rd NE, Roanoke, Va.In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to the Virginia Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. Checks may be sent payable to “VA MFSA” to Pat Shipley, Treasurer, 3031 Grayland Ave., Richmond, Va. 23221-3525.Condolences may be sent to Dr Esther Galima Mabry and family to 1009 Old Country Club Road, Apt. 329, Roanoke, Va., 24017.
Recent Alumni/ae Deaths
ST. MARYS—Rev. Susan A. Montgomery was born Nov. 15, 1946, at Topeka, the daughter of Thomas H. and Ramona K. Selsor Turner. She graduated from Osage City High School in 1964.
She married Larry Montgomery and they raised two sons. They divorced in 1983.
She attended KSTC at Emporia, one year after high school and returned 20 years later to graduate from Emporia State University in 1987, with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. She attended Boston University School of Theology and graduated with a Master of Divinity in 1991.
She served many United Methodist churches in Kansas including St. Marys, Emmett and Belvue, officially retiring in 2012, but continued to serve several church communities. She was the city clerk at Emmett. She was a member of the Literary Club in St. Marys, Jolly Workers at Emmett and Sunflower Sue Club in Maple Hill.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
She is survived by two sons, Brien Montgomery and wife, Teresa and Stacy T. Montgomery and wife, Stacy L.; two brothers, William Turner and wife, Rebecca and Michael Turner and wife, Jannett; three sisters, Kathryn Knowlton and husband, John, Nola Roth and husband, Dave and Taime Pitchford and husband, Jim; three grandchildren, Jessica Ann, Marc Neil and Brook Marie; a great-grandchild, Connor Lee; and nieces and nephews. She loved her family and passionately served the Lord.
Come help us celebrate her the life 10 a.m. June 6 at St. Marys United Methodist Church, St. Marys.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Community Health Ministry or the charity of the donor’s choice and sent in care of Piper Funeral Home, 714 Maple St., St. Marys, KS 66536.
To leave an online condolence, visit www.piperfuneralhome.com
Harald Andreas Christian Frey was born near Stuttgart, Germany the ninth of 13 children of Gottlob Frey, a Methodist minister, and his wife, Maria.
As a teenager in Germany during World War II, Harald endured hardships including bombings and food shortages, as well as a separation from his family when school-aged city children were evacuated to rural areas for their safety. After the war, at age 16, Harald experienced a religious epiphany at a church camp, which led to his dedication to life in Christian service.
In 1950, Harald traveled to America, hosted by “foster parents” Robert and Grace Dawson of Pasadena: First United Methodist Church. He attended Pasadena College for a year then, with financial support from the church, enrolled at the Boston University School of Theology in 1952. In 1956, he married Nancy Whyte, a Boston native.
After serving churches in Portland, Maine and Warren, Rhode Island, Harald, Nancy and their two young children (Peter and Heidi) moved back to California to “found” a new Methodist church (The Church of the Good Shepherd) in Westminster, California. Their son Andrew was born there in 1962.
Harald served as senior pastor of the 1200-member-strong Temple: First United Methodist Church (Arizona) for 11 years. He considered this the most productive assignment of his ministry and enjoyed the many associations afforded by the church’s proximity to Arizona State University. In 1976, Harald was assigned to the Whittier: First United Methodist Church; then in 1980, with the children all off to college, he and Nancy moved to the Tucson area to serve the Green Valley Community Church.
In 1985, Harald and Nancy returned to California, to the Rolling Hills United Methodist Church. Then in 1988, Harald was appointed to his final church: as head pastor of the Estero Bay United Methodist Church in Morro Bay. He happily retired there in 1993. In 2009, just before Harald’s 80th birthday, he and Nancy moved to Venice, California to be closer to their children. He lived out his final years surrounded by family, music, good food, and ocean breezes.
Harald is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Nancy; by children Peter, Heidi and Andrew; by grandchildren Noah Greenwald, Kayla Frey, Maya Greenwald and Logan Frey; and by siblings Artur Frey, Gretel Reinhardt, Marta Frey, Marie-Else Sartor-Frey, Erich Frey and Dieter Frey.
Rev. Ross E. Lilly died on March 21, 2016 at the age of 89. Rev. Lilly served in the New England Conference at churches in MA and RI: W. Barrington, Hingham, East Providence, East Greenwich, Needham and Waltham Immanuel UMC’s until his retirement in 1993. There will be a memorial service 10:30 a.m. on Saturday April 2, 2016 at Cheshire UMC, 205 Academy Rd, Cheshire CT. Condolences may be sent to his daughter Janet Ray, 189 Patton Dr., Cheshire, CT 06410. Please keep all of the Lilly family in your prayers.
Read the entire obit. Memorial donations can be made to: Boston University School of Theology for the Harrell Beck Chair; 595 Commonwealth Ave., Suite 700, Boston, MA 02215
Rev. Dr. Lawrence Andrew Adolph Larson, 81, of New Fairfield, CT, died on January 16, 2016 at the Regional Hospice and Home Care Center in Danbury, CT. ‘Father’ Larry was born on December 27, 1934 to Julia Hycznyck and Adolph “Gus” Larson in Chicago, IL. He graduated from Indiana University in 1957 as a speech and drama major, where he acted and wrote plays, was drum major in the “Marching Hundred” and served as a licensed Methodist preacher Sundays at small, rural parishes. He attended seminary at Drew University and earned his Masters of Divinity and Masters in Communication and Film at Boston University. He served as a Methodist pastor in Dorchester, MA and Fitchburg, MA before becoming ordained as an Episcopal priest at St. James Church, Great Barrington, MA in 1968. He served as rector for eleven years at Christ Church in Ansonia, CT and 18 years at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Brewster, NY. When in his 60’s, he completed a Doctorate in Ministry through the Graduate Theological Foundation. His 50 years of ministry were marked but a commitment to social justice: such as marching in the South in the 60’s, founding tenants’ rights organizations in MA and CT, starting food pantries in CT and NY, as well as parish outreach to the mentally ill. ‘Father’ Larry was also a poet, musician, photographer, wood turner, outdoorsman, fly fisherman and avid basketball fan.
Rev. Dr. Rogers passed away at the age of 86. You can read more on Claremont’s website. Rev. Dr. Rogers cherished his connection to BU STH and his relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr. while he was a student. You can read a Boston.com article about Rev. Dr. Rogers’ connection to MLK and watch a video on NBA.com. Also, here is the memorial service bulletin.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer Obituary Section: Rev. Townsend pastored The Federated Church in Chagrin Falls for 39 years and St. Luke’s UCC in Old Brooklyn for 15 years. Beloved husband of the late Rose Jane (nee Smiley) and Donna (Lusa) Townsend; loving father of John W. Townsend Jr., and Sarah Littlefield; cherished grandfather of Jessica Littlefield.
The Reverend Dr. Otis A. Maxfield died in Portland, Maine on Dec. 29, 2015 at home with his family. He was born in Malden, Massachusetts on June 3, 1927 to Irene Agatha Maxfield. He married E. Virginia Maxfield in 1947 and together they had five children: Janet Duncan, Susan Garrett, Lois Jones, Andy and Tim Maxfield. Eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren followed, enriching his life. Read the rest of this obituary in the Boothbay Register.
E. McKinnon (Mac) White (STH ’53) died December 10, 2015. You can read more about Reverend White on the New England Conference website.
It is with great sorrow, yet peace of mind and much gratitude, that we share the passing of our beloved husband, father, step-father, grandfather and brother-in-law, Rev. Ed Montfort, on August 12th. Ed was born in Portland, New York, on August 25th, 1928. He was predeceased by his parents, Clyde and Marjorie Montfort, and by his sister Marcia and brother Martin. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Helen, and by his children Rev. Mark Montfort, Shari Larsson (Eric), Susan Montfort, Mike Richardson (Julia)and Matt Richardson (Rosemary). Ed was a much-loved grandfather to Lauren Johansson (Mathias), Lindsay Kilgore, Chase Richardson, Jack Richardson, Ella Richardson, Isabella Richardson, and Anna Richardson. Ed graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia with a Bachelor of Science in Music degree and from Boston University School of Theology. He served eleven churches in Florida before retiring in 1995. Ed’s retirement was long and full of travel, golf, time in his workshop and family time.
The Rev. Jerome “Jerry” Blankinship, a leader in the the Las Vegas Valley’s religious community for nearly a half century, died Thursday after a tough bout with pneumonia. He was 81. He was best known for his more than 30 years as chaplain for Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Born in 1933 in California, he pursued a bachelor’s degree in education and later a master’s in counseling at the University of Southern California. After a stint teaching elementary school in Los Angeles, Blankinship attended Boston University’s school of theology, where he earned a master’s of divinity. He came to Las Vegas in 1966 where he was pastor at University United Methodist Church before leaving in 1975 for a brief teaching gig at the University of Nevada, Reno. There he taught nursing students how to balance the technical aspects of their job with skills of compassion, listening and caring. In 1976, Nathan Adelson — then administrator at the valley’s largest medical facility at the time, Sunrise Hospital — hired him for the chaplain job. He stayed in that position through 2008. Sunrise’s current chaplain, Dennis Felder, said Blankinship helped bring spiritual healing to patients, their families and hospital staff. “Chaplain Jerry Blankinship was a true and faithful servant to Sunrise Hospital and Sunrise Children’s Hospital for over 30 years,” Fedler said. “He will certainly be missed, but his words of comfort will continue to resonate in our hearts forever. In a 2008 interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Blankinship painted a picture of working for cooperation among all faiths. “I’m not here to threaten patients or scare patients or judge patients,” he said. “I’m not here to question their religion or ask them questions: ‘Do they believe this?’ Blankinship’s son-in-law, John Grainger, said he was compassionate listener. “His personality fit with his career,” Grainger said. Blankinship also was one of the founders of the Clark County Ministerial Association, in which he served as vice-president and program chairman until his death. Blankinship is survived by his daughter Martha Grainger and son-in-law John, son Paul Blankinship and daughter-in-law Erin, and step-son Jerome Cutler. He had nine grandchildren: Matthew, Noah, Miller, Nicholas, Benjamin, Samuel, Collin, Kingston and Chandler. Blankinship also leaves behind his dog, Glamis
Carl Henry Douglass Jr. of Moneta turned to the ministry as a young man because he was puzzled by questions that he couldn’t reconcile with traditional views of the Bible — questions like, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
“He felt that as he puzzled, he could help others do the same thing. He was interested in wrestling with the deepest questions and found that many in his congregations likewise were seeking answers,” said a son, John C. Douglass of Richmond.
“His sermons invited people to ask good questions, and he encouraged people to find faith in their own way.” The Rev. Douglass labored for almost six decades to fuse poignant stories and self-deprecating humor in his sermons in “an attempt to link the everyday with the everlasting.” The 86-year-old Moneta resident, who died Saturday in hospice care in Hardy, served 16 congregations in the Virginia Conference of what now is the United Methodist Church. They ranged from four churches on the Brookneal Circuit and Pace Memorial Church in Richmond to Patmos United Methodist Church in Huddleston, where he retired in 2011. From the mid-1960s into the 1980s, he was a fixture on Channel 12, teaching “Lessons for Living,” sponsored by the Virginia Council of Churches. A Harrisonburg native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Emory University and a divinity degree at Boston University. An early advocate for civil rights, “he came out of (Boston University) with the sense that part of his mission was to gently bring along his congregations to a more inclusive world,” his son said. “His early sermons have that theme. He did a lot of persuasion quietly and privately in addition to in the pulpit.
“In the very early stages of his ministry, he was welcoming to black members, which at the time was certainly unusual.”
Although he was entitled to use the title “Dr.” after receiving an honorary degree from Randolph-Macon College, he thought that would be “putting on airs,” his son said. He was much fonder of the term “Daddy,” and 10 children of a combined family used that endearment. In addition to his son, survivors include his wife, Brenda Mosier Douglass; two other sons, Brent Douglass of Staunton and Steven G. Douglass of Leesburg; a daughter, Carol Jacoby of Richmond; two stepsons, Andrew Stafford and David Stafford, both of Raleigh, N.C.; four stepdaughters — Jacque Atkinson of Florence, S.C.; Cynthia A. Hales of Timmonsville, S.C.; Sonya A. Secor of Mount Pleasant, S.C.; and Lynn A. Semones of Christiansburg — and eight grandchildren, 15 stepgrandchildren, three great-grandchildren and one stepgreat-grandchild.
The Rev. Dr. John Michael Miller, Jr., age 81, of Marietta died at home Tuesday, July 7. “Dr. Mike” graduated from the Naval Academy in 1956 and served on the destroyer Irwin and the Spinax and John Marshall submarines. Following a call to the ministry, Mike enrolled at Boston University School of Theology in 1964 and earned his PhD in Old Testament Studies in 1971. He pastored United Methodist Churches in Massachusetts and Illinois. In 1978 he joined the faculty of the School of Theology at Oral Roberts University, serving as dean 1984-85. In 1989 Mike and Dolores moved to Roswell, GA where he served as minister of education at Roswell UMC. He retired in 1998 to spend time writing, travelling and serving in the mission field in Kazakhstan and Ethiopia. Mike is survived by his beloved wife of 58 years Dolores Quartz Miller, daughter Ruth Ellen Miller Elsbree and husband, Dr. James Elsbree (Marietta, GA), daughter Jeanette Miller Mausolf (Kansas City, MO). Mike is also survived by eight grandchildren and one great granddaughter: Meghann Mausolf Davidson (Bryan) and Eliza Jane Davidson (Moorhead, MN); LT Kayleen Ellen Elsbree (USN); LT J. Michael Elsbree (USN); Staff Sgt Jarold O’Dean Mausolf, Jr. (USAF); Stephen Phillip Elsbree (Marietta, GA); 2Lt Teresa Jeanette Elsbree (USAF); Joseph William Mausolf (Ft. Collins, CO); Connor Patrick Elsbree (Bremerton, WA). A memorial service was held Friday, July 10 at 11 AM at Roswell United Methodist Church.
ORLOFF WAKEFIELD MILLER (1931 – 2015), STH ’56
Rev. Orloff Wakefield Miller died on July 1st, 2015 at the age of 83.
Orloff was born on August 8, 1931 to Rev. Lawrence Miller and Alice Miller. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Union College (now University of Mount Union) in 1953, and went on to receive a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology in 1956.
Rev. Miller was ordained by the Methodist Church in 1954, and served as minister to the Federated Church of Francestown, NH (Congregational) from 1956 to 1959. In 1959, he left the Methodist denomination and began serving as Associate Director of the youth organization, Liberal Religious Youth (LRY). He held that position until 1961. He received Unitarian Universalist ministerial fellowship in 1961, and spent the next five years serving as the Director of the Office of College Centers of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and Staff Advisor to Student Religious Liberals. He went on to serve as District Executive of the Mountain Desert District of the UUA from 1967 to 1970; minister to the All Souls Church Unitarian Universalist of Colorado Springs, CO from 1968 to 1972; and minister to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Luis Obispo, CA from 1973 to 1979. In 1984, he was called to respond to the national AIDS crisis. He served as minister and AIDS consultant to the UU AIDS Crisis Ministry in San Francisco, CA, a role he held for five years. Rev. Miller officially retired in 1991; however he served as European Unitarian Universalist (EUU) Minister-at-Large from 1993 to 2000. In 2000, he was accorded the title of Emeritus EUU Minister-at-Large.
A tireless advocate for civil rights, Rev. Miller was among the hundreds of religious leaders who traveled to Selma, AL, in March of 1965, in answer to an appeal from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The appeal was put forth after a group of African-Americans, advocating for their right to vote by marching from Selma to Montgomery, were attacked by a group of white state troopers. While in Selma, on March 9, 1965, Rev. Miller, Rev. James Reeb and Rev. Clark Olsen, were attacked and beaten by a group of white men as they left Walker’s Cafe. Rev. Reeb died two days later. The attack gained nationwide attention, and served as a turning point in civil rights history. Several months later, in August of 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, banning racial discrimination within voting practices by federal, local and state governments.
Within an interview gathered as part of Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965), Rev. Miller explained:
I’ve been asked many times what business white clergy had in Selma, Alabama. What right did we have telling folks how they should run their lives. We not only had a right, we had a responsibility to be there because some of our family, our black brothers and sisters were not being treated fairly and wherever people are not being given their fair shot at having a full and meaningful life we have a responsibility to do what we can to help change that. And if it means we have to argue with other brothers and sisters about that then we better get in there and argue about it. And help them to see that there is another way of living as one human family. Yes, I think white people had a responsibility, and white ministers especially had a responsibility to be in Selma, Alabama.[i]
In March of 2015, Rev. Miller returned to Selma to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. His son, Orloff Garrik Miller, recalls, “By then [his] sense of balance was a problem, and we rented a wheelchair for the conference. The day of the reenactment of the march, [he] got up and walked across that bridge.”
Rev. Miller was active within the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association; the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; and the UUA’s (former) Full Recognition and Funding of Black Affairs Council.
Orloff studied within a doctorate program at the Institute for the Advanced Human Sexuality, in San Francisco, CA, in the early 1980’s, working toward a degree in Human Sexuality. When the AIDS crisis hit the United States, he felt a responsibility to respond. He worked as a Field Secretary for the AIDS Interfaith Network, and ministered as a volunteer hospice coordinator, providing support to people with AIDS, and to their friends and families. His son, Orloff Garrik Miller, “believe[s] that this was the hardest work of Dad’s career. Few he assisted survived more than a few months.” He received the Pacific Central District’s Unsung Hero Award in 1987 for his work during the epidemic.
Orloff Garrik Miller, son, has fond memories of a childhood spent with his father; together they camped, sailed, motorcycled, and traveled to regional retreats and encounter groups. In the early 1980’s, Orloff and Orloff Garrik loaded a motorcycle with camping gear and rode from San Francisco to Oregon.
Orloff moved to Germany in 1989, and married his dear wife, Renate Bauer, the same year. Their son, Glenn Erasmus Bauer, was born a year later. Orloff spent the next twenty-six years enjoying his retirement, volunteering, traveling, and taking care of Glenn Erasmus.
Renate remembers the ease with which Orloff made friends, and connected with individuals. “He found a way to bond with practically everyone,” she recalls, “He was dedicated to people, even at the end of his life. Even when he was not doing very well during the past two years, he made a point to call those who were worse off.”
Orloff is survived by his wife, Renate Bauer; his sisters, Karen and Sandra; and his children, Orloff Garrik Miller, Tanya Crete, and Glenn Erasmus Bauer.
[i] Interview with Rev. Orloff Miller, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on November 30, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Charles Travis Kendall (Travis), of Phoenix, passed away peacefully Thursday, June 25, 2015, after a short and courageous battle with cancer. He was 83. He is survived by his devoted wife of 56 years, Janet Kendall; children Nathan (wife Julie), Matthew (wife Lisa), Mary Beth (husband Rob), Benjamin (wife Kim), and Timothy; grandchildren Ariana, Hayley, Lila, Charlotte, Travis, Bryce, Ruby, Katrina, Libbie, Laura and Lindsey (husband Beto); great grandchildren Madison, Savannah, Riley, and Jackson; and siblings Peggy Soulen (husband Dick) and Phillip Kendall (wife Noel). Travis was born, in Boston, to the late Charles and Mary Lou Kendall. He graduated from North Phoenix High in 1950 and from DePauw University in 1954. He studied at the Boston University School of Theology, where he received an STB in 1957 and a doctorate in Theology in 1965. It was in Boston where he met Janet LaTona, a nurse, and they married in June 1959. Travis spent his life serving in the Methodist Church. He was senior pastor at University Church, USC Los Angeles, from 1960 to 1970; Executive Director Southern California Inter-faith from 1970-72, Phoenix (MEPCO) Inner City Coordinator, 1972-1975; Senior Pastor, Federated Community Church, Flagstaff 1975-1987; Senior Pastor, Faith United Methodist Church, Phoenix 1987-1994; and Visiting Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Phoenix 1994-2000. Together, Travis and Janet enjoyed traveling, skiing, hiking (especially in the Grand Canyon), and white water rafting on many rivers in the southwest. Their travels took them to countries around the world, and throughout the US where they would visit their children and grandchildren, and extended family and friends. Travis shared his passion for white water rafting each year leading church youth groups, on a weeklong camp down the San Juan River, Utah and the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He was quite proud each ski season to earn a free lift ticket at the AZ Snowbowl for “being old”. He was easily recognizable around town driving a 1950 Willy’s Jeepster, or finding “treasures” on his morning and evening walks. His wisdom, wit, generosity and devotion will be greatly missed.
Written by Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff, June 7, 2015
One of four children born to James Thomas and the former Hattie Williams, Rev. Thomas grew up in Cleveland. “His father and his uncles were all deacons,” said Rev. Thomas’s wife, the former Janie McMillian, whom he married in 1979. “And his Southern cousins from Georgia on his father’s side, they’re all ministers. So he had ministers and deacons in his family.” After graduating from John Adams High School in Cleveland, Rev. Thomas studied history at what was then Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, where he also played football and graduated in 1970. He met his future wife when both were working in government jobs in Canton, Ohio. Soon after they married, he entered the ministry. He was ordained by a mentor, the Rev. Cornelius Bartley Sr. of New Hope Memorial Baptist Church in Elizabeth, N.J., and later served under the Rev. Robert E. Craig at Willing Spirit Baptist Church in Cincinnati. A job at New England Life Insurance Co. brought Rev. Thomas and his family to Boston. In the blog radio interview with his niece, he recalled receiving an acceptance letter from Harvard Divinity School on his birthday in 1986. He received a master’s in theological studies from Harvard, a doctorate from Boston University’s School of Theology, and was studying for another doctorate at Goethe University in Frankfurt. The Thomas family was living in Newton when he first drove to Haverhill to look at Calvary Baptist Church. “In October of 1988, I was called to be the pastor,” he said in the interview with his niece. “I was still working at New England Life. I was still at Harvard Divinity School.” Juggling duties was a constant for Rev. Thomas. Over the years, he taught at Harvard Divinity School, Goethe University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, and Lesley University, and he was minister-in-residence at Boston University’s Center for Practical Theology. He served on boards including for Habitat for Humanity, Haverhill Housing Partnership, and the United Baptist Convention of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. His honors included being named an Unsung Hero in 2013 by the Merrimack Valley Branch of the NAACP and being inducted into the athletic hall of fame at what is now Baldwin Wallace University. “I am excited about having shared the power of worship, not simply in the church, but in how we live and exercise our faith outside these walls,” he told the Globe in January 2014. In addition to his wife, Rev. Thomas leaves his stepson, Eli Lavelanet of Washington state; his daughter, Jennifer, of Cleveland; two sisters, Jeanie Turpin and Carolyn, both of Ohio; two grandsons; and Rolanda Green, of Wharton, N.J., who grew up with the Thomas family after her parents died. Family, friends, and a host of clergy will gather at Calvary Baptist Church in Haverhill to celebrate the life and ministry of Rev. Thomas with worship services at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and a memorial service at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Even though Rev. Thomas had many commitments to the church, to teaching, and to the community, “the most important part of his ministry was bringing people to Christ,” his wife said. “One thing that I learned from him, and that lesson carries me through now, is that he always said to me, ‘Janie, do it because it’s the right thing to do.’ He taught me to love God’s people. No matter what, he said, ‘Love God’s people.’”
November 28, 1925 – September 18, 2014
With the passing of Lois, the world has lost a shining beacon of love and compassion. Lois was born in Peking (Beijing), China to Dr. Paul E. Johnson and Evelyn (Grant) Johnson. Lois’s parents were serving as Methodist missionaries in China. Following their return to the United States, Lois grew up in Iowa and graduated from Newton Wellesley high school in Boston where her father, Dr. Paul E. Johnson, taught at Boston University School of Theology. Lois attended nursing school in Boston graduating as a registered nurse. She married Rev. George Cummings in 1947, and together they served churches in Valier, Montana; Pullman, Washington; and others in this Conference. Lois re-established her professional career as a home health nurse on Maui until her retirement in 1988. Lois relocated to Grants Pass, Oregon following her retirement, where she met the second love of her life, Mr. Raymond Cole. They married and resettled in Fort Collins, Colorado to be near her family. Lois had an amazing passion and vigor for life! From multiple trips crisscrossing the nation in a Ford van with her husband and four children, to her expertise at Hula dancing and square dancing, hiking and camping, boating, corresponding with all of her family and friends on a weekly basis, reading voraciously, knitting hundreds of Christmas stockings, sewing matching clothes for the entire family, four-wheeling, fishing, teaching swimming lessons, teaching Sunday school, teaching people ways to live, and helping them to die when it was their time. She was a gifted healer who was a powerful presence in the lives of all she met. The world is a better place for her having lived in it. Lois is survived by her husband, Raymond Cole, her children Michael Cummings (Bernadette) of Maui., Hawaii; Martha Turner of Maui, Hawaii; Grant Matthews of Atlanta, Georgia; Mark Cummings (Brenda) of Fort Collins, Colorado; grandchildren Chisa, Marisa, Lesley, Mia, Phillip, Bobby, Billy, Mandy, Jessi, and two great grandchildren Victor and Madison! A private memorial service was held for the family, officiated by the Rev. Dr. Mason Willis. Her ashes will be scattered on the Chetko River in Oregon, and in the waters off of her favorite beach on Maui. Donations in Lois’s memory can be made to Pathways Hospice of Fort Collins or Hospice Maui. All of us in the Cummings and Cole extended families ask for your thoughts and prayers as we adjust to a world without Lois.
Rev. Dr. Somen Das (STH ’79), from the Church of North India, prominent theologian, prolific writer, teacher and ecumenist, passed away at the age of 75 in Mumbai on May 5, 2015. After his B.A (Hons.) in English Literature and B.D from Serampore College, Rev. Dr. Somen Das pursued his further theological education in USA for his M.Th and PhD in Christian Theology and Ethics in Princeton and Boston Universities in 1967 and 1978 respectively. He was an ordained minister of the Church of North India, and taught Christian Theology and Ethics for 34 years in various Theological Seminaries – Serampore College (1969-70), United Theological College, Bangalore (1970-88) and Bishop’s College (1989-99). He served as Acting Principal at UTC, Bangalore (1987-88), Principal of Bishop’s College (1989-99), Visiting Professor at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland; Andover Newton, USA and Heidelberg University, Germany. From 2000 onwards he lived in Serampore and offered his services to Serampore College as well as the North India Institute of Post-Graduate Theology Studies (NIIPGTS). He wrote several books and published numerous articles in leading journals. Rev. Dr. Das also served as chairperson of Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI) from 1985 – 1989. He contributed greatly as resource person in NCCI programs and his support for the ecumenical movement is well-known. It is a great loss to the Church, seminaries and the ecumenical movement. We thank God for His life and contribution. His contributions will always be remembered and will provide the inspiration for continuing work in the spirit of commitment and faithful service. We extend our heartfelt condolence and pray for God’s comforting presence to strengthen the bereaved family.
Reverend Dr. Bart Carter Pate (STH ’58) of Chattanooga TN, passed away on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Carter was born to the late Bart Carter, Sr. and Louise Pate in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Carter was a member of the First Centenary United Methodist Church. He attended the University of Texas, Vanderbilt University, University of Michigan, Boston University School of Theology and he received his Ph.D. from Boston University. Carter was a professor at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga for over 30 years. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Pate published scholarly articles on a variety of topics ranging from civil rights to multicultural education and peace-keeping. He was a 32nd degree Mason and a member of Chattanooga Area Ministers Union. Carter was preceded in death by his parents Bart Carter Pate, Sr. and Louise Carter Pate. Carter is survived by his wife Dorothy Pate, sons Russell Pate and Robert ( Donna) Pate, daughter Gretchen ( Tom) Pate Hail, grandchildren Russell E. Pate, Alexandrea ( Byron) Valle, Danielle Pate, William and Pate Hail.
The Rev. Donald M. Yaekle (STH ’49), November 30, 1921 – March 30, 2015: The Reverend Donald M. Yaekle, 93, of Pataskala peacefully passed away at home on March 30, 2015 following an extended illness. The Rev. Yaekle was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 30, 1921. He was a graduate of Bexley High School; Capital University, Columbus, OH; Eden Seminary, St. Louis, MO and Boston University Graduate School of Theology. He was ordained a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in his home church, St. John’s UCC Columbus in 1946.Following his ordination he served churches in Olney, Il, Acton Center, MA, and Lawrenceburg, IN before serving St. John’s UCC in Lorain, Ohio for 31 years, retiring in 1986. In 1989, he and his wife, Sylvia moved to Pataskala where he continued an active ministry providing interim pastoral services to area churches. Rev. Yaekle’s service to the greater church and community included serving as a Delegate to the UCC General Synod, terms as Chairman of the Christian Education Department, Missions Priority Department and Nominating Committees of the UCC Western Reserve Association and the establishment of UCC’s Temple Hills Ohio Church Camp. He served on the District Board of Boy Scouts of America, was President of Lorain Rotary Club, Lorain Ministerial Association, and a Member of the Board of Directors of Lorain Neighborhood House. Rev. Yaekle is survived by Sylvia, nee Rudolph, his wife of 69 years and sons Gary (Beth) of Granville, Ohio and Paul (Brenna) of Phoenix, Arizona. He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Matilda (nee Kirschner) Yaekle and step-grandson Todd Engelhardt. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials contributions be made in his name to St. John’s UCC Church, Newark Ohio or Hospice of Central Ohio.
R.J. “Jerry” Gibson (STH ’54) of Eastham died February 9 after a long illness. Jerry leaves his wife, Mary Jane; four children and their spouses — Rachel and her husband Peter Schwartz of West Hartford, CT; Nathan and Ellen Panarese Gibson of Newton, MA; Mark and Amy Beechner Gibson of Eastham, MA; and Becky and Michael Steiner of Slingerlands, NY; and six grandchildren — Corey, JoJo, Daniel, Annie, Connor and Tyler. Jerry was born in South Bend, IN, and attended Harvard College, B.U. School of Theology, The University of Edinburgh as a Fulbright Scholar, and Yale University. For the first years of his professional life he worked for the Methodist Church with students from every college in the Cambridge area. He later became the Director of Fiscal Services at Harvard University, followed by an entrepreneurial period. He was known for his extraordinary work ethic. His gift for inventive play with small children made him a terrific Dad and an adored grandfather. When his oldest grandson applied to college he wrote that his grandfather’s original games “made me think.” Jerry loved Eastham and especially caring for the family’s cottage colony on Depot Pond. He was past president of the Eastham Forum, designed the Transfer Station along with Bob Chesney, raised money for the library’s CLAMS computer system, built shelves for the library, raised money with Nan Aikenson for the bandstand on the green and once, along with Lorimer Miller, organized a fund for citizens who couldn’t afford local taxes.
Rev. Elwood L. Babbin (STH ’54), 87, of Waterford, CT died peacefully on Tuesday December 30 at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. He was born November 4, 1927 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of the late Walter Babbin and Mary Elizabeth Fowler Babbin. He was predeceased by his brother Walter and sister Lila. “Woody”, as he was known to his many friends, was called to the Christian ministry in his late teens. He graduated from the Providence Bible Institute (later Barrington College), from Boston University with a Master’s degree, majoring in History and Religious Studies. He also attended the Southern Baptist Seminary, the Hartford Seminary Foundation. Further graduate study was done at Boston University, at Cambridge University in Great Britain, and Heidelberg University of Germany. During his year abroad Rev. Babbin traveled extensively in Europe and the Holy Lands. Rev. Babbin’s early ministry was in several Baptist churches, beginning in Norwich, CT. Other churches were in Rhode Island and Connecticut. In all, he spent over thirty years in the pastorate. His love of the New Testament and the history of the Christian church led to a ten year career of teaching at Barrington College (now Gordon College) in Rhode Island. Rev. Babbin is survived by his wife Kirsten Wallgren Babbin, his children, Matthew Babbin, of Avon, Donna Babbin, of New Hartford, Kelley Babbin, of Winsted, David and Margarita Babbin, of Farmington, Deborah and Michael Damen, of Chicago and stepchildren, Tad and Jill Kennedy of Groton and Sarah and Hank Pinkowski of Spencer, MA. He is also survived by ten grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.Rev. Babbin was an active member of St. John’s Episcopal Church of Niantic. Woody served as an assistant chaplain at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and as a Hospice Chaplain. He also organized and led a number of study groups both among fellow clergy and at St. John’s Church. He was a lifelong sports fan of all the Boston sports teams, and especially his beloved Red Sox. He also spent his latter years following national and world politics and the growth and development of his family.
Rev. Gerald Hartley Murphy(STH ’55, STH ’56), 87, of Meadville died Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, surrounded by his family at the Marquette Hospice House. He was born Feb. 10, 1927, in Newport, R.I., a son of Michael Martin and Alice Helen Raftery Murphy Sr. He married Mathilda Ruth Cunningham in the Baldwin-Wallace Chapel, Berea, Ohio, June 21, 1956, and she survives.
He grew up in Newport, graduating from its Rogers High School in 1945. He received his bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1949, his bachelor of sacred theology in 1955 and his master’s of sacred theology and social ethics in 1956, all from Boston University. He was ordained into the United Methodist Church in 1956 and served at the North Saugus Union Church, Saugus, Mass., from 1954 to 1956, the Third Street Methodist Church, Williamsport, from 1956 to 1963, Beaver Methodist Church from 1963 to 1966, Harmony-Zelienople United Methodist Church from 1966 to 1972, Fox Chapel United Methodist Church, Pittsburgh, from 1972 to 1985 and chaplain of Wesbury United Methodist Community from 1985 until his retirement in 1995.
He served on many committees of the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church and pioneered a workshop for persons experiencing separation and divorce through the Center for Human Development in Pittsburgh, designed and conducted a workshop on ministering to older adults and a workshop on spiritual dimensions of aging while at Wesbury United Methodist Community. He was a Pastoral Care volunteer at Meadville Medical Center, a member of the Meadville Round Table, the Tuesday Morning Music Group and the Wesleyan Covenant Group of Stone United Methodist Church. In his youth he enjoyed spending summers at the family cottage on the shores of Narragansett Bay in Middletown, R.I., and more recently at the family home in the Chautauqua Institution. He built the family sailboat, JAMMR, in 1971. He also enjoyed the trip to Israel, Paris and Brussels that was a gift from the congregation of Fox Chapel United Methodist Church in 1986 and his 50th wedding anniversary trip to England, Wales and Ireland in 2006. He enjoyed jogging and more recently walking, music, reading, crocheting and singing in the Stone United Methodist Church choir. Survivors, in addition to his wife, Mathilda Ruth, of 58 years, include a daughter, Aimee M. Doershuk and her husband, David, of Streetsboro, Ohio; a son, Michael H. Murphy and his wife, Anne Marie, of Wilmette, Ill.; six grandchildren, Nicholas, Jennifer and Kyle Doershuk and Devin, Bryce and Teagan Murphy; and nieces, nephews and cousins. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister, Ellen M. Grauer; a brother, Michael M. Murphy Jr.; and a nephew, Robert M. Grauer.
Mrs. Stacy Renee Smith Autry (STH ’96) of Monroe, GA passed away on September 27, 2014. At the time of her passing, Autry was serving as the Director of Admissions for Westminster Christian Academy in Athens, GA.
Rev. Kenneth Bibbee (STH ’52) of Seabring, OH passed away on July 11, 2014. Prior to his time at BU, Rev. Bibbee went to Bible College and taught in a one-room schoolhouse. Rev. Bibbee was ordained in the UMC in 1952 and served in various capacities throughout Ohio until his retirement in 1989.
Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Merrill (STH ’62, STH ’89) passed away on July 8, 2014. He received his STB and Doctor of Divinity from BUSTH. He was an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and spent 55 years in active ministry in New England, spending most of that time in Maine. He was living in South Portland, ME at the time of his death.
Rev. Raymond Moore (STH’54) passed away on July 6, 2014 in Indianola, IN. Before attending college and earning a STB from BUSTH, Rev. Moore served in Okinawa. Upon graduation, he served nearly a dozen different congregations throughout the Iowa Conference. Even when he retired from the pastorate, Rev. Moore remained a part-time chaplain at his local VA Hospital.
Rev. Dr. John C. Haney (STH ’50, STH ’59) passed away on June 4, 2014 in Jacksonville, FL. After graduating from BUSTH–where he earned both a STB and a ThD–he served over 30 years as a Naval Chaplain. He served on bases from North Carolina to Cuba to Japan, in addition to on board numerous ships, and retired in 1988 with the rank of Captain. While memorialized in a traditional church setting, Rev. Dr. Haney will be buried at sea with full naval honors.
Dr. William E. Smith passed away on Thursday, May 8, 2014. He received a M.Div. in 1948 and a Th.D. in 1954. He was living in Southern Pines, NC at the time of his death.
Rev. Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Weiss (STH ’58, STH ’62) passed away on April 6, 2014. He received both his STB and ThD from BUSTH. After completing a thesis titled “The Canonical History of the Book of Revelations,” he served a parish in Cheverly, MD, participated in the 1963 March on Washington, and went on to do mission work in Uruguay and The Hague. In 1973, he returned to Maryland where he served in multiple Methodist churches, finally retiring in Catonsville, MD.
Harry Oliver taught at Boston University School of Theology for 32 years. He passed away on September 22, 2011 at the age of 80. In honor of the third anniversary of his death, one of his former students, Dr. Richard Hughes (STH ’66, GRS ’70), has written reflections about Harry’s life and legacy. You can read the entire article here. Additionally, here is an excerpt:
On the third anniversary of his death in 2011 I offer some reflections on the life and work of Harold Oliver at the School of Theology. As his first doctoral student, I shared many discussions and maintained a personal relationship with him throughout his teaching years and into his retirement. He had great analytic and technical abilities, intellectual brilliance, and a warm accepting personality. I fondly addressed him as Harry.
From 1957 until 1965 he taught New Testament at The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. Having grown up in Southern Baptist fundamentalist culture in Alabama, he expressed his analytic ability in New Testament studies, aided by the existentialist hermeneutic of Rudolf Bultmann. His Bultmann phase, which lasted 15 years, enabled him to transcend biblical literalism. In 1965 Harry was dismissed from Southeastern, and the charge was his teaching Bultmann. His dismissal was widely discussed in theological circles across the country.