The Rev. Alfred James Norman Henriksen

The Rev. Alfred James Norman Henriksen died on June 24, 2017 at the age of 95.

He is survived by wife Georgianne DeClercq; children James Peter, Carl (Beverly Thacker), and Heidi (Neal Conner); grandchildren Eric (Emily), Nini, Teddy, Becca Reeve (Alec), Rueben Conner, and Bryce Conner; stepchildren Erika Sweet (Jeff) and Renee Ackley, and their children Kevin Sweet, David Sweet, and Stephanie Ackley; and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by first wife Ruth Baxter Henriksen.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pacific Unitarian Church, 5621 Montemalaga Dr, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275.

A memorial service will take place at 2pm on Sunday, August 13, 2017 at Pacific Unitarian Church (address above).

Notes of condolence can be sent to Georgianne DeClercq at 435 W 8th St #210, San Pedro, CA, 90731 and at Georgianne.DeClercq@gmail.com.

A more complete obituary will be forthcoming after biographical research has been completed.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Greeley Higgins, Jr.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Greeley Higgins, Jr. died on June 9, 2017 at the age of 90.

He is survived by children Daniel G. Higgins III, Cynthia Westlake, Ann Spicer, and Kim Clark; grandchildren Caitlin Lankford, Skyler Westlake, and Shane and Aubree Clark; and great-grandson Myles Lankford. He was predeceased by wife of almost 60 years Jean, sister Charlotte Weems, two brothers who died in childhood, and grandson Austen Westlake.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Michaels Fire Dept., 1001 S. Talbot St, St. Michaels, MD 21663; and to the Rev. Dr. Daniel Higgins Scholarship Fund, c/o Barbara Baldwin, Meadville Lombard Theological School, 610 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605.

A memorial service is being planned for September, to take place at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton, MD.

Notes of condolence can be sent to 3444 Orange Wood Ct, Marietta, GA, 30062; and to woocjw@aol.com.

A more complete obituary will be forthcoming after biographical research has been completed.

The Rev. Kenneth R. Hutchinson

uurmapaThe Rev. Kenneth R. Hutchinson, 95, died April 21, 2005. He served congregations in Edwards, NY; La Crescenta, Pasadena, and Santa Monica, CA; Brattleboro, VT; Dexter, ME; and Cincinnati, OH. Upon his retirement in 1979, the UU Church of the Verdugo Hills in La Crescenta named him minister emeritus. He is survived by his son Stanley of Temecula, CA, and a daughter, Kimberley. He was predeceased by his wife, Pearl Knott Hutchinson, in 2004.

The Rev. Dr. James D. Hunt

James Hunt

James Hunt

The Rev. Dr. James D. Hunt, 79, died January 12, 2011. He was a graduate of Tufts, Boston and Syracuse Universities. His first career was as a Universalist minister. The parts of being a minister he liked the best were studying and preaching. This led him to pursue a second career in teaching. He was a professor of ethics and religion at Shaw University, Raleigh, NC for nearly 30 years. His first major publication was a comparison of the lives of Martin Luther King and Mohandas K. Gandhi. He went on to write about the early life of Gandhi, an interest which culminated in the publication of four books. Jim had a passion for fairness and justice. He worked with Amnesty International, ACLU, Witness for Peace, Peace Action, CITCA, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, and CORE. A devoted family man, Jim found time to enjoy cycling, reading, hiking, folk dancing, playing the recorder, singing and traveling. He is survived by his wife, his children, their partners and grandchildren.

Marilyn Blitzstein Hromatko

uurmapaMarilyn Blitzstein Hromatko, 68, wife of the Rev. Dr. Wesley V. Hromatko, died of cancer Oct. 31, 2015 at Morningside Heights Care Center in Marshall, MN. She was born to Leland and Ellinore Blitzstein in Chicago on Dec. 17, 1946. She attended Bradwell Elementary and graduated from South Shore High in 1965. The city of Chicago gave her a citizenship award. Some of her most enjoyable experiences were at Camp Pinewood, MI.

Following graduation, she studied at Roosevelt University, then at Northern Illinois University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. At NIU she had poetry — some in Latin — published in the literary journal Towers.

Marilyn received a master’s degree in English two years later, then studied at Kent State where she was a resident assistant during the campus disturbance there. Her role, as part of the residence hall team, was to help restore calm. Marilyn held a variety of jobs; her favorite was working at a summer camp in the Rockies. Marilyn loved the outdoors.

She enjoyed selling lamps, records, and books at Carson, Pirie Scott, & Company, where her grandmother, Emma Solomon, worked. She was a Girl Scout executive in the Chicago area and later was a YWCA program director. Marilyn then studied at Meadville Lombard Theological School and the University of Chicago. She met the Rev. Dr. Wesley Hromatko, while he was serving First Unitarian Church of Hobart, IN. They were married September 17, 1978.

Religion interested her but preaching didn’t. She taught church school and was involved with the Central Midwest District religious education library. Marilyn was one of the organizers of the Tri-State UU Gathering. Toward the end of her life she returned to studying Biblical language. She was widely read in many subjects. She helped edit a physics book Conceptual Physics by Paul Hewitt. She was also an amateur radio operator and she had a great interest in the natural sciences.

In Illinois, Marilyn visited Abraham Lincoln sites museums and the homes of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and author Ernest Hemingway. She was a member of the Chicago Art Institute and active in Independent Voters of Illinois. Sometimes she would meet Wesley at Chagall’s “American Windows.” While the Hromatkos lived in New England, they visited many historic sites, such as Robert Frost’s home in Derry, N.H.; the Freedom Trail with Old Ironsides, Plymouth, MA, Starr Island, Strawberry Bank, and Mystic Seaport, home of the last wooden whaler. They also visited the House of Seven Gables, Longellow’s birthplace and Cambridge home, Herman Melville’s farm, William Cullen Bryant’s farm, President Adams’ boyhood home and farm, and Concord where Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau lived. Marilyn loved the woods by Walden Pond. In high school she kept a picture of Walden in her room.

She came to the farm at Lake Wilson in 1990 when she and Wesley decided that they should stay to help his parents, A.J. and Maybelle Hromatko. The farm became home for her. She was active in the Grange there. She said it was the longest time that she had stayed in any one place. They went to Illinois to visit and help her mother several times. She is survived by her husband; her sisters Rabbi Ann Folb, Arlington, VA; Bonniejean (Mike Gualandi) Gualandi, Arizona City, AZ; her niece Leah and nephew Joshua; and brother Alan (Ellen) Learner, Tyler,TX; and a number or cousins.

Services were held Nov. 4 at Chandler Funeral Home, Chandler, MN. Interment will be at Mount Pisgah Cemetery in Hanska, MN, at a later date.

Notes of remembrance may go to Wesley Hromatko at 752 121st St., Lake Wilson, MN 56151.

Carolyn Chance Howlett

Carolyn Howlett

Carolyn Howlett

Carolyn Chance Howlett, 89, widow of the Rev. Duncan Howlett, died Sept. 29, 2004 in Fryeburg, ME. She was one of only three females in her class at Yale Law School in 1938. She practiced law in New York City until she married. She was the first woman president of the International Association for Religious Freedom, making a number of trips including communist countries in Eastern Europe. She was honored for this with an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago. She was active in community affairs in Center Lovell, ME. Her husband of 60 years died in 2003. She is survived by a brother, R. Robinson Chance; four children, Susan Hasty of Portland, ME; Albert of Falls Church, VA, Richard of Burke, VA, and Carolyn ‘Lynn’ Korth of Center Lovell, ME; 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

The Rev. Dr. Charles A. Howe

Charles Howe

Charles Howe

The Rev. Dr. Charles A. Howe, 88, died August 10, 2010. He earned an AB in chemistry at UNC, Chapel Hill. He served in the US Marine Corps, then returned to UNC to earn his MA & PhD in chemistry. He worked for Merck and then taught at Clarkson College in Potsdam, NY. There the Howes became active members of the Universalist Church in Canton, NY. He went on to earn his BDiv at Meadville Lombard, which later awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Divinity. He served churches in TX, NY, NC. He was named minister emeritus by the Wilmington, NC church. He was interim minister for churches in VA, NY and FL. After his retirement, he was a member of the Chapel Hill and Raleigh, NC congregations. He served on the Commission on Appraisal and was a member of the UU Historical Society. He wrote a number of books, including The Larger Faith: A Short History of American Universalism. He was a lifelong advocate for social justice. He is survived by his wife, Ann Howe, his children, Judith Louise Howe and Marjorie Ann Howe Chenery (and their spouses) and David Darrow Howe and four granddaughters.

The Rev. Stephen Davies Howard

uurmapaThe Rev. Stephen Davies Howard, 78, died July 15, 2009, in hospice care, following a brief illness. Born in western Massachusetts, he was educated at American International College and Harvard Divinity School. He served churches in MA, then worked as an interim consultant for more than 18 UU churches. He was recently honored by the UUA for his 50 years of service. Stephen delivered his last sermon to his congregation in Palmer, MA on June 21, Father’s Day. His family says he was an avid reader, writer and outdoor enthusiast. He enjoyed local libraries, bookstores, and loved the beauty of the local countryside. Throughout his years, he enjoyed hiking with his dogs at Highland Pond, Notch Mountain, and the Warwick Swamp. He was inspired by reading the writings of Thoreau, Robert Frost, and Emily Dickinson. An ardent football fan, he followed Greenfield High School, local college and Patriots games. More than anything else, he said he loved having time with his grandchildren. He is survived by his wife, Ann, to whom he was married for 50 years, their three children, Catherine Howard Nicholas, Elisabeth Davies Howard, Matthew Anson Howard and his wife, by five grandchildren, and his brother and sister-in-law, and a nephew and a niece.

The Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Houff

Bill Houff

Bill Houff

The Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Houff, dedicated parish minister, activist against war and racism, devoted husband, and lover of the farming life and land from his youth, died, aged 85, on 26 January 2014 in hospice care at the Rockwood South Hill retirement facility in Spokane where he and his late wife, Patty, had lived for several years.

Growing up in very modest circumstances on a Shenandoah Valley farm during the Great Depression, Bill could remember his boyhood allowance of one penny a month and the coming of electricity to his family’s farm as a memorable event. In a very conservative religious environment, he recalled that there was little display of family affection or emotion and that his father was “a man of few words.” At his graduation from an unaccredited high school, Bill began driving a local school bus, having no clear sense of direction for his life. But when he heard by chance about a state-wide competition for a four-year chemistry scholarship at the College of William & Mary in “far away” Williamsburg, a native curiosity and a sense of adventure led him to enter . . . and to win! Against the hope of his parents that he would inherit the farm, they reluctantly helped him pack up his modest belongings in the family Hudson and drove him 160 miles to his new college home. Bill plaintively recalled that the moment when his parents said goodbye and headed their Hudson west back across the Blue Ridge to their farm was the moment when he became an “orphan.” Years later he spoke to a future ministerial colleague of the pain he still felt for the despair of his parents, who were sure that their son’s adult religious path had doomed his soul to eternal hell.

Even after breaking away from his austere boyhood environment, moving on through eighteen years of study and work in the field of chemistry, and finally serving thirty-five years in Unitarian Universalist parish ministry, Bill never lost the sense of deep connection to the land and to the life of self-sufficient independence. When the opportunity came in his forties to recover some of his childhood pleasure in farming and carpentry, Bill acquired acreage near Spokane, which he named “Still Point Farm,” and on which he constructed, by his own hands, a main house and several other outbuildings—work and ownership in which he took great pride and joy.

William Harper Houff was born on 27 April 1928 near the village of New Hope, Virginia, the only son of Harper P. Houff and Anna Elizabeth Wilberger. He took a B.S. in chemistry with Phi Beta Kappa honors from the College of William and Mary in 1950, earning living expenses by working all four years as a waiter at the Travis House, one of the colonial-style restaurants operated by Colonial Williamsburg, Inc. Despite a strong academic record, he always said he learned more in his Travis House experience than in his college course work. A brief marriage during his undergraduate years ended when his wife Lucille returned to the New Hope area with their infant son, Konrad, never more to be a part of Bill’s life. Mr. Houff went on to Michigan State University for graduate study in chemistry, earning an M.S. in 1952 and a Ph.D. in 1955. In Michigan he met and married Donna Hall, who became the mother of his second and third sons, Gregory and Robert.

Bill Houff

Bill Houff

Eschewing an academic career for the better-paying corporate world, Dr. Houff stayed on in Michigan for a first job out of school, but then took a new position in Albany, New York, where, driving around one day, he chanced upon a “Wayside Pulpit” sign in front of the local Unitarian church. Intrigued by its liberal message, after having had no church involvement since leaving home ten years earlier, he made some Sunday morning visits, quickly joined, and soon became an active lay leader. By the early 1960s, he had moved on to a research job with Shell Oil in the San Francisco Bay Area and to membership in the Mount Diablo UU church in Walnut Creek, where the ministerial leadership of the Rev. Aron Gilmartin and the proximity of a UU seminary led him toward serious interest in parish ministry. Mr. Houff earned his B.D. from Starr King School for the Ministry in 1964. Meanwhile his marriage to Donna ended in divorce.

Ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 1964, the newly Rev. Mr. Houff served the UU Fellowship of Redwood City, California, from 1964 to 1968, the UU Church of Shoreline, Washington, from 1968-1973, and then the UU Church of Spokane, Washington, in his longest settlement from 1973 to 1988, during which the congregation’s membership doubled. It was in Spokane that Bill finally met his soul mate, Patricia “Patty” Meagher McTigue, to whom he was married for more than thirty-five years until her death in 2012. In retirement, Bill and Patty enjoyed world travel.

Leaving the Spokane congregation as Minister Emeritus at age sixty, Mr. Houff moved on to a series of interim ministries at the First UU Church of Winnipeg, Manitoba (1988-89), the UU Church of Greensboro in Jamestown, North Carolina (1989-90), the UU Congregation of Asheville, North Carolina (1990-91), the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, British Columbia (1991-93) and the University Unitarian Church of Seattle, Washington (1997-99), having along the way qualified himself as an Accredited Interim Minister in 1992.

Mr. Houff was also active with the wider Unitarian Universalist network and with his colleagues in the UUMA. In 1964-65 he served as president of the Bay Area Ministers Association and as chair of the Pacific Central District Personnel Committee, and from 1967 to 1970 he chaired the Student Affairs Committee at Starr King School. In the early 1970s he served as the Ministerial Settlement Representative for the Pacific Northwest District, in which role he so impressed the ministerial search committee of the Spokane church that, at their request, he resigned that position to become their candidate for the Spokane pulpit.

In his Spokane ministry, he began preaching about spiritual growth and mysticism in what he called a “theological metamorphosis”—not abandoning but expanding his earlier scientific humanism—a journey on which he became a frequent workshop leader for ministerial colleagues and laypeople over the years. It was as a theme speaker for the Eliot Institute in 1984 with the title “Through the Eye of the Needle: Toward Oneness” that he began thinking about putting these insights into writing. The resulting book, Infinity in Your Hand: A Guide for the Spiritually Curious (Melior Publications, 1989), was republished under the UUA’s Skinner House imprint in 1990 and was widely used for adult study in UU congregations.

Bill Houff had a deep and long-standing commitment to social justice, which he in time came to see in a profoundly spiritual perspective. Early in his ministry he joined a huge turnout of Unitarian Universalist ministers in traveling to Alabama for the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. Later he marched in a San Francisco protest of the Vietnam War and the use of napalm on Vietnamese civilians. In 1984, at the Spokane church, Bill delivered a sermon titled, “Silent Holocaust,” in which he described life-threatening negligence in the nuclear industry. The sermon served as a catalyst for his founding and leadership of the Hanford Education Action League (HEAL), a grassroots nuclear concern group, focused especially on dangerous practices at the nearby Hanford nuclear facility.

In later years, Bill and Patty were both active in community activities and Bill was honored for his service as a volunteer chaplain for Hospice of Spokane. For a time they shared a home with Patty’s mother, making it possible for her to live out her years, to the age of nearly 100, in the daily embrace of family.

The Rev. Marvin Evans, a long-time friend, offers this perspective:

“Bill at the Unitarian Church of Spokane and Bill at the Still Point Farm were in a very real sense not the same Bill Houff. When he spoke from the pulpit at the church and when he spoke at the feed store in Newport, you were experiencing two very different versions of William Harper Houff. These two versions blended together made for one of the most interesting people I have ever known.”

Bill Houff is survived by sons Konrad Crist, and Gregory and Robert Houff, by grandchildren Torin, Marina, and Trevor, and by several stepchildren, one of whom, Patty’s daughter Kathleen McTigue, is also a UU minister. Bill was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Anna Lee, and his wife, Patty.

A memorial service for the Rev. Dr. William Houff was celebrated on February 12, 2014, at the Unitarian Church of Spokane. Memorial gifts may be made to the Inland Northwest Land Trust, 33 W. Main Ave. Spokane, Wash, 99201-1017. Notes of condolence may be sent in care of Greg Houff, 1002 Golden Hills Drive, Cheney, Wash. 99004.

[Editor’s note — Some of the material in this obituary is drawn from a memoir written by the Rev. Marvin D. Evans, one of Bill Houff’s closest and longest-time friends. Mr. Evans’ full memoir may be found at this link.]

Patricia Ann (McTigue) Houff

uurmapaPatricia Ann (McTigue) Houff, 81, died on September 16, 2012. Patty was born September 24, 1930. She was a life-long resident of Spokane, born as the first of three children to Mary and Tom Meagher. A graduate of Lewis and Clark High School and Stanford University, she worked as a fundraiser for Eastern Washington State College and as a residential realtor.

Patty was a persistent advocate for civic engagement and environmental preservation. She was active for many years with the League of Women Voters, the Spokane Mountaineers, the Spokane Unitarian Universalist Church, the Peace and Justice Action League and the Inland Northwest Land Trust, as well as many other civic associations. For nearly thirty years she was an active volunteer with the Dishman Hills Conservancy, and one of her proudest accomplishments was assisting in the creation of the “Dream Trail” in preservation of the Dishman Hills.

Patty was effective far beyond what her modesty admitted. She cultivated deep, enduring friendships; she was an exceptional mother and grandmother; and she was profoundly beloved.

Patty was married to James E. “Jim” McTigue for 21 years and the Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Houff for 36 years. She is survived by her husband, Bill Houff; her four children, Peggy McTigue, Kathleen McTIgue, Mike McTigue and Tom McTigue; sons-in-law David Miller and Nick Nyhart; three granddaughters, Hannah and Maris Nyhart and Annie McTigue; stepsons Greg and Rob Houff; her siblings Michael Meagher and Dr. Mary Meagher, sister-in-law Joan Meagher, niece Shannon Meagher and nephews Colin and Sean Meagher.

A Memorial Service in Patty’s honor was held on Friday, October 26, 2012, at 3:00pm at the Spokane Unitarian Universalist Church, 4340 W. Fort George Wright Drive, Spokane, WA 99224. Memorial gifts in Patty’s honor may be made to the Dishman Hills Conservancy for extension and preservation of the Dream Trail.