The Reverend Felix Danford Lion died peacefully on Saturday, November 29, 2008 at Victoria General Hospital, British Columbia, with his family beside him. He was 94.
Rev. Lion was born in Berlin, MA, on October 16, 1914, to Unitarian Universalist minister Herman F. Lion and Isabella Ferraris Lion. He attended DePauw University then transferred to the University of Chicago, graduating in 1936. He graduated from Meadville Theological School in 1938 with a BD degree, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in 1966.
Following his graduation from Meadville, Rev. Lion embarked on what would become 47 years of active and engaged ministry. He served the following Unitarian Universalist congregations: First Unitarian Society in Newton, MA as assistant minister (1938 – 1940); First Unitarian Society in Lawrence, MA, following his father’s tenure there (1940 to 1945); Adams Memorial Unitarian Church in Dunkirk, NY (1945 – 1949); Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, CA (1949 – 1972); Community Church of New York, NY as associate minister (1972 – 1975); Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst, NY (1975 – 1981); and Unitarian Universalist Church of Victoria, British Columbia (1981 – 1986). He was honored as Minister Emeritus by both the Palo Alto, CA and Victoria, BC congregations.
In addition to congregational service, Rev. Lion served his larger community on numerous boards and committees, including as Executive Board member of the Palo Alto Branch of the NAACP, and on the boards of the Palo Alto Ministerial Association, Palo Alto Human Relations Commission, and Palo Alto Mental Health Association. He was a founding member and President for six years of the Vancouver Island Coalition for Human Rights and a member of the International Association for Religious Freedom.
His Unitarian Universalist activities included a tenure as President of the UU Ministers Association from 1979 until 1981, Secretary-Treasurer of the Unitarian Fellowship for Social Justice from 1940 – 1949, President of the Pacific Coast Unitarian Council from 1955 – 1958, and President of the Board of Starr King School for the Ministry from 1971 – 1973.
In 2006, at the age of 91, Rev. Lion was the subject of an article by Rick Stiebel in the Goldstream News Gazette titled "A Lion’s fight to defend human rights.” The article highlighted Rev. Lion’s life-long dedication to social justice for all, including his work during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in Mississippi where he participated in voter registration activities with Dr. Martin Luther King and the folk singer-activist Pete Seeger.
Rev. Lion loved both music and gardening. He played trumpet all his life in jazz bands and orchestras wherever he lived, beginning as a teenager and continuing until he was 92 years old. In Victoria he played in the Oak Bay Seniors Orchestra, Hampton Symphony, and the dance bands, Swing Bandits and Groovin' Hard. In Palo Alto, California he played with the church dance band the Unicorns. Rev. Lion indulged his love of gardening during his retirement. He belonged to several different garden clubs over the years, as well as the Horticultural Societies of British Columbia and Victoria. He and his wife, Eva, created a beautiful and rich garden which they proudly shared as a training facility for other gardeners. Their gardens were featured in a 1999 article in Gardens West.
Rev. Lion’s survivors include his wife of 66 years, Eva; his children, David, Ingrid, and Roger Lion; and his grandchildren, Anna and Rob Lion and Andrea Junca. A memorial service was held on December 13, 2008 at the First Unitarian Church of Victoria. Memorial contributions may be made in Rev. Lion’s name to the donor’s favorite charity. Please send notes of condolence to Ms. Eva Lion, 3310 Ocean Blvd, Victoria, BC V9C 1W6.