The Rev. Dr. William "Bill” Harper Houff died on January 26th, 2014 at the age of 85.
William "Bill” Houff was born in New Hope, VA, on April 27th,
1928 to Harper P. Houff and Anna Elizabeth Willberger. He graduated
from The College of William and Mary in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science
in Chemistry. In 1952, he received a Master’s of Science in Chemistry,
and in 1955, a Ph.D. in Chemistry, both from Michigan State University.
He then worked as a chemist in Michigan, New York, and California,
respectively, from 1958 to 1964. Rev. Houff graduated from Starr King
School for the Ministry, with a Bachelor in Divinity, in 1964.
to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 1964, Rev. Houff served the
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City, CA from 1964 to 1968,
the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Church of Shoreline, WA from
1968-1973, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, WA from
1973-1988. Rev. Houff was certified as an Accredited Interim Minister
in 1992. He served as interim minister for the First Unitarian
Universalist Church of Winnipeg, MB from 1988-1989, the Unitarian
Universalist Church of Greensboro in Jamestown, NC from 1989 to 1990,
the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, NC from 1990-1991,
the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, BC from 1991 to 1993 and the
University Unitarian Church of Seattle, WA from 1997 to 1999. In 1988,
he was honored with the title of Minister Emeritus by the Unitarian
Universalist Church of Spokane. Rev. Houff wrote a book entitled Infinity in Your Hand: A Guide for the Spiritually Curious; the book was published by Melior Publications in 1989 and Skinner House Books in 1990.
Houff dedicated much of his time to Unitarian Universalism, and served
the denomination in various capacities. He was a regular participant in
Pacific Northwest Division Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association
chapter meetings from 1968 to 1988, and was a member of the Pacific
Northwest Division Nominating Committee. Rev. Houff served as President
of the Bay Area Ministers Association from 1964 to 1965, Chair of the
Pacific Central District Personnel Committee from 1964 to 1965,
Member and Chair of the Student Affairs Committee at Starr King School
from 1967 to 1970, and Workshop Leader for the Unitarian Universalist
Minsters Association Continuing Education, Network, Training, Enrichment
and Renewal (CENTER) Committee from 1968 to 1988.
Houff was deeply committed to social justice. Along with other
Unitarian Universalist ministers, he traveled to Selma, Alabama in 1965
for the Selma to Montgomery March. Several years later, he marched in
San Francisco to protest the Vietnam War and the use of Napalm on the
people of Vietnam. In 1984, at the Spokane Unitarian Universalist
Church, Rev. Houff delivered a sermon titled, "Silent Holocaust,” in
which he described the life-threatening negligence of the nuclear
industry. The sermon served as a catalyst for the formation of the
Handford Education Action League (HEAL), a grassroots nuclear concern
group. Rev. Houff was a founder and leader of the group.
Houff’s friends and family remember his strong connection to his rural
Southern roots, despite his departure from his family’s working farm at
age eighteen. Following his move to Spokane in 1972, Rev. Houff acquired
a forty acre farm, which he named "The Still Point.” He constructed the
main farmhouse and several other outbuildings. He was interested in
photography, reading, carpentry, farming, and backpacking.
Houff is survived by sons Konrad Crist (Karen Campbell), Gregory Houff
(Starla), Robert Houff, and by his stepchildren. He is also survived by
his grandchildren Torin, Marina, and Trevor. Rev. Houff was preceded in
death by his parents, his sister Anna Lee, and his beloved wife,
Patricia "Patty” Meagher McTigue.
lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Inland Northwest Land
Trust, 33 W. Main Ave. Spokane, WA 99201-1017.Notes of condolences may
be sent in care of Greg Houff, 1002 Golden Hills Drive, Cheney, WA.