Karin Van Strien

Karin Van Strien died February 10, 2017 in Peterborough, NH at the age of 92. She was born in Thuringia, Germany, but economic difficulties caused her family to relocate in Berlin after WWI. Karin graduated from a girls’ Lyceum in 1943, and entered the obligatory work service, followed by the war service on the Berlin trolley cars. In spring of 1944 she left Berlin for Bavaria. She graduated from the School for Infants and Children in 1948, and from the School of Social Work in 1954.

In 1959 she immigrated to the United States to marry the Rev. David Van Strien, pastor in Newburyport, MA, and later at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Peterborough, NH. In 1970 Karin received an MA from Boston University School of Social Work. She worked for the Matthew Thornton Health Plan in Nashua from 1977 until her retirement in 1991.

She was a peace activist and worked many years with her husband on Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East. Karin was a member of the Goethe Society and of the Garden Club, including the Ikenobo Ikebana Society. She loved the Monadnock Region with its many nature walks, theatre, opera, and Kaffeeklatsches.  She was also a longtime member of the Monadnock Chorus. Karin enjoyed traveling, especially to Germany to visit families and friends.

Survivors include: Egmont Fortun, brother; nephews, Steffen and Martin and their families, all in Germany; a niece Vickie Chamberlain and family in Greensboro, NC; a nephew David Ammerman and family in Maine.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made in Karin’s name to the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church, 25 Main Street, Peterborough, NH 03458, or the Monadnock Chorus, PO Box 218, Peterborough, NH.

Richard F. “Dick” Vincent

Richard "Dick" Vincent

Richard Vincent

Richard F. “Dick” Vincent, 89, died on July 29, 2010, from complications of diabetes and other illnesses. He was the husband of the Rev. Audrey Vincent. Dick was a 1942 graduate of Tufts (College of Engineering) where chapel experiences provided by Crane Seminary faculty inspired him to become a Universalist. A survivor of WWII, Dick mustered out as Lt. Commander USN, yet would go on to become a life long peace activist which he attributed to the transformative experience of having been among the first to arrive in Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped.

A Renaissance man, Dick enjoyed a 38-year career in the oil fields of California, Iran, and Scotland while making time for wilderness and artistic pursuits. He and Audrey met on a Sierra Club outing in 1966 and were married by the Rev. Berkeley Blake on a mountain top in Ojai, CA.

Ministry for Audrey was a second career. Dick, newly retired, was reluctant to become “the vicar’s wife.” He became increasingly supportive and a loyal member of UURMaPA as they managed their bi-coastal relationship for almost 14 years while Audrey served the UU Church of Savannah. Audrey returned to their home place in Santa Paula upon her retirement in 2004. The pleasure of attending the symphony and the theater enhanced their retirement years together.

The Rev. Dr. Herbert F. Vetter Jr.

Herb Vetter

Herb Vetter

The Rev. Dr. Herbert F. Vetter Jr. died of ventricular fibrillation and myocardial infarction on March 7, 2014, at the age of 90, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Herb was a true intellectual, a student of philosophy, science and literature, a scholar, a man who wrestled with the complexity of the human condition. His younger years as a conscientious objector, a librarian, an entrepreneur, a music lover and a Quaker with Lutheran roots prepared him well for a life in ministry. But he is best known as the man who envisioned a national radio program featuring interviews with the great thinkers of his time; we can thank Herb Vetter for introducing Unitarian Universalism to a wide population of National Public Radio listeners through his syndicated radio program, The Cambridge Forum.

Herbert Ferdinand Vetter, Junior, was born in Baltimore, MD, on September 27, 1923 to Herbert Ferdinand Vetter Sr. and Kathleen Wilson. A child of the Depression, he watched his father, the owner of an auto parts store, succeed in rental property investment during hard times, learning from him the value of entrepreneurship and hard work. Drafted to serve in World War II right out of high school, he refused as a conscientious objector to support the war in any way. He thus served a term in Federal prison in West Virginia, where he was the prison librarian and edited the prison journal, also hosting a daily radio program and learning to run a printing press — all excellent preparation for his later career as host of The Cambridge Forum, founder of the Harvard Square Library, and editor of writings by James Luther Adams, Charles Hartshorne, and Rabindranath Tagore.

His parole officer recognized his genius, and helped open doors for him to enter the University of Chicago, where he discovered Unitarianism while attending a Quaker meeting held at First Unitarian Church. He was drawn to the sound of the choir rehearsing, and entering the sanctuary, one could say that he never left again. He believed that Unitarianism “was a more adequate form of worship,” and its rich tradition of the humanities — music, literature, art, and science —resonated with him. It was during his Chicago years that he met and married Dorothy Hagquist in a 1950 wedding officiated by their friend and Herb’s mentor, James Luther Adams. He soon became a divinity school student, first at Harvard, and then at Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity in 1952. He received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Meadville Theological School in 1983.

Mr. Vetter was ordained on October 26, 1952, at the First Congregational Parish, Unitarian, in Sharon, MA, where he served from 1952 to 1953. From 1954 to 1957, he served the Unitarian Church of Franklin, NH; then the Unitarian Church of Delaware County, PA (1958-1959); the First Parish of Milton, MA (1959-1960); and the First Parish of Northborough, MA (1960-1964).

Herb Vetter

Herb Vetter

Seeking to be closer to the center of intellectual discourse of the early 1960’s, the Vetters moved to Cambridge, MA, where Herb served as the Associate Minister with the Rev. Ralph Halverson at First Parish, Cambridge, and subsequently as Minister at Large, while simultaneously founding and directing The Cambridge Forum. In 1999, First Parish in Cambridge voted him Minister Emeritus.

Herb was very active in wider UU circles. He served as co-chair of the New England Ministers Institute; Moderator of the Greenfield Group of Unitarian Universalist Ministers; Field Education Representative of the Harvard Divinity School; Executive Committee Member of the New England Unitarian Ministers’ Association; member of the United Ministry at Harvard and Radcliffe; member of the Leverett House Senior Common Room at Harvard College; and member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Board of Chaplains.

An avid writer and historian, the Rev. Mr. Vetter authored five books—Joyful Power (1999); The Harvard Square Book (2007); Is God Necessary? No! And Yes (2007); Prayers of Power (2008); James Luther Adams: Prophet to the Powerful (2008)— and edited five additional titles—Speak Out: Against the New Right (1982); The Heart of God: Prayers of Rabindranath Tagore (1997); Catholic Power vs. American Freedom (2002); Hartshorne: A New World View (2007); Notable American Unitarians 1740-1900(2007).

In 1967, while serving First Parish in Cambridge, Mr. Vetter founded The Cambridge Forum, which began as a program of the Social Responsibility Committee of First Parish, and functioned as a platform that brought together renowned thinkers and ordinary citizens to discuss and examine social and political issues. Topics of discussion included the Vietnam War and the civil rights and anti-nuclear movements. The Forum produced the first continental radio and television broadcasts made by Unitarian Universalists. Cambridge Forum now exists as a non-profit organization affiliated with First Parish; its live public discussions are broadcast through National Public Radio.

Herb’s anti-war convictions continued during the Vietnam War; he participated in an underground network that helped young men avoid the draft and escape to Canada. The Vetters’ phone line was tapped by the FBI.

Following his retirement from the ministry and Cambridge Forum, Herbert Vetter founded the Harvard Square Library in 2000 (www.harvardsquarelibrary.org). Affiliated with First Parish in Cambridge, this is a digital library that features biographies, books, historical documents, and other materials about Unitarian Universalism and religious liberalism.

Herb was interested in music, reading, visual and performing arts, and travel. He loved classical music and jazz; Duke Ellington was one of his favorite performers. He is remembered by his son, Jim, as having “an amazing intellect,” and by his daughter, Kathleen, as having been “passionate about his many projects.”

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy H. Vetter; daughter, Kathleen E. Vetter (John Zurich); son, James B. Vetter; son-in-law, Tim Kutzmark; two grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Three brothers and one sister also survive him.

A memorial service was held on March 22nd, 2014, at 2:00 p.m., at First Parish in Cambridge. Notes of condolence can be sent to Dorothy Vetter, 1573 Cambridge St., Apt. 306, Cambridge, MA 02138.

The Rev. Norma Goodwin Veridan

uurmapaThe Rev. Norma Goodwin Veridan, died January 14, 2004. She served as the Religious Educator for the Mass Bay District and served congregations in Arlington and Charlottesville, VA; Madison, WI and Dallas, TX. The Veridan Fund for Religious Education Excellence (VFREE) has been established in her memory. It will provide scholarships to religious educators who strive to strengthen religious education in UU congregations by advancing their professional development to a new level of expertise.

The Rev. Vester “Van” Vanstrom

Millicent and Vester Vanstrom

Millicent and Vester Vanstrom

The Rev. Vester “Van” Vanstrom, 90, died of a stroke May 25, 2007. He and his wife, Millie, were pioneers in interim ministry in 1975, serving congregations in Bellevue, WA; Golden and Denver, CO; Media, PA; Southwest Extension Ministry, Tulsa, OK; and Houston and Corpus Christi, TX. He was predeceased by son Marc and his wife of 68 years, Millicent, who died in 2006. His sons, David and Keith, and Vester all had apartments in the same complex in Bedford, TX. He had two grandsons. He requested no memorial service and his cremains, along with Millie’s were interred in a cemetery in Chisago City, Minnesota near their childhood homes.

Millicent Vanstrom

Millicent and Vester Vanstrom

Millicent and Vester Vanstrom

Millicent Vanstrom, 87, wife of the Rev. Dr. Vester L. Vanstrom, died Oct. 18, 2006, in Bedford, TX from pneumonia. Her warm, comforting and contagious smile was enjoyed by all who met her. She was an active member in Planned Parenthood and awarded the National Margaret Sanger certificate of Recognition. She was a hands-on volunteer at hospitals wherever she lived. She was born with scoliosis from which she suffered, especially the last five years of her life. She is survived by her sons, Keith and David.

The Rev. David Van Strien

David Van Strien

David Van Strien

The Rev. David Van Strien, tireless worker for equal rights and opportunities for all people, died at age 89 on June 29, 2014 at RiverMead Lifecare Community, Peterborough, NH.

Mr. Van Strien’s work for justice was primarily, but not exclusively, focused on the rights of the Palestinian people in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He received the first annual award from the New Hampshire Chapter of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee for his work for the cause of peace and justice, but was also instrumental in promoting Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union in southern New Hampshire.

At one point he sued New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thomson to keep him from lowering the flag to half-mast on Good Friday. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court where Mr. Van Strien won. He was instrumental in putting a successful nuclear freeze resolution on the ballot in Peterborough and, with his congregation, successfully opposed the local school board in its attempt to allow the Gideons to distribute Bibles in the Peterborough public schools.

He considered himself a humanist and used the tenets of humanism to give voice to peace and justice issues and organizations throughout his ministry. He founded UUs for Justice in the Middle East in the early 1970s, and chaired the organization from 1977 to 2003; he also founded the Palestine Education Network. When he received the award from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, his acceptance speech included these words:

“I consider working for peace and justice to be a primary — the primary — obligation of any religious person. Working to advance the idea of equal justice and human rights for all persons is — or at least should be — a primary political responsibility of every man and woman in our nation who subscribes to the principles and ideals and spirit embodied in our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights.”

David Douglas Van Strien was born on December 23, 1924 to John and Cornelia (Bouma) Van Strien. After high school graduation in Bayonne, New Jersey, he went on to earn a B.A. from Ursinus College in 1946 and a B.D. from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 1954. He was married to Karin Fortun in May of 1959.

Although he grew up in the Dutch Reformed Church, Mr. Van Strien entered ministry in the Congregational Christian Church tradition (United Church of Christ after 1957). After ordination on June 6, 1954, he served the North Congregational Church of Middleton, New York from 1954 to 1957, and the Belleville Congregational Church of Newburyport, Massachusetts from 1958 to 1969. After Mr. Van Strien’s religious views became more liberal in the 1960s, he was received into UU ministerial fellowship in 1967. He accepted a call to the Peterborough (New Hampshire) UU Church in 1969 and served there until he retired in 1990 and was named Minister Emeritus.

During his twenty years of service in Peterborough, the Rev. Mr. Van Strien re-established the Monadnock Summer Lyceum, bringing well-known speakers to the greater community. He also dedicated much of his time to the wider UU movement, serving on the UUA Board of Trustees for nine years, as a Good Offices person for the UUMA; and as president, vice president, and Secretary of the New Hampshire Vermont UUMA chapter.

A memorial service conducted by the Rev. Dr. David Robins was held on July 14, 2014 at the Peterborough UU church.

David Van Strien is survived by his wife, Karin Van Strien; his brother in-law; four nephews and a niece; and many great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews. Notes of condolence may be sent to Karin Van Strien at 205 Rivermead Road, Peterborough NH 03458.