It is with a sense of loss that the Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group inform you of the death of the Reverend Penelope Anderson Binger. She died following a brief illness on June 1, 2008 at Oldorf Hospice House of Mercy in Hiawatha, IA. She was 82.
Rev. Binger was born on May 1, 1926 in Omaha, NE to Frank and Penelope (Hamilton) Anderson. She attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, IA and graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1946. As a young woman, Rev. Binger married and raised 6 children. She also managed the Sanfords, Footnote, and Walden bookstores in Cedar Rapids. She returned to school, attending the University of Iowa School of Religion from 1972-1976 and eventually received her Masters of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in 1985.
Rev. Binger was ordained by the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, California on November 10, 1985. She served the First Unitarian Church of Sioux City, Iowa from 1986 until 1996. Upon her retirement, the congregation honored her as Minister Emerita. She then returned to live in Cedar Rapids where she served as part-time Administrative Assistant for the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County.
Rev. Binger was active in her community throughout her adult life, serving as the President of the Cedar Rapids branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and as the Vice President of the Iowa Division of AAUW. She was president of the Cedar Rapids Altrusa Club and Vice-Chair of the Linn County Republican Committee from 1955-1968. Appointed by Governor Robert Ray, Rev. Binger served five years on the Iowa Child Labor Committee. Appointed by Mayor Robert M.L. Johnson, she also served as Chair of the Cedar Rapids Commission on the Status of Women.
While living in Sioux City, she served as the President of AAUW, Chair of the Board of the Center for Women at Morningside College, Board member of the NAACP, and Board member of the local Planned Parenthood. Rev. Binger organized and chaired the Siouxland Diversity Council and organized a Siouxland Chapter of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union. As a member of the Board for the ICLU, Rev. Binger served as a plaintiff in the case against prayer at graduation in public schools. Rev. Binger incorporated and served as Vice-President/Secretary for the Unitarian Universalist Network for Process Theology from 1988-1999. In 1989, she was recognized with the Siouxland Women of Excellence Award.
In addition to her large and loving family, the main passions in Rev. Binger’s life were the fight for Civil Liberties /ACLU, support for the drive to increase diversity and inclusiveness in our society, and working to improve the status of women.
Upon returning to Cedar Rapids after her retirement, Rev. Binger was president of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association of the Prairie Star District from 1997-1999. She served as the Legislative chair of the ICLU and was Co-President of the Hawkeye Area Chapter of the ICLU until 2004. She was a member of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue and, after much thought, prayer, and discernment made the decision to convert to Judaism on January 23, 2004 when she became a member of Temple Judah in Cedar Rapids.
Rev. Binger is survived by her six children: Penny Brisson of Santa Clara CA; Ginna Himschoot (Robert) of Cedar Rapids; James Binger of Oakland CA; Elizabeth Binger (George Dowker) of Niantic CT; Paula Binger of Waterloo IA; and Julia Daugherty (Darren) of Cedar Rapids; her brother Frank Anderson (Dorothy) of Eugene OR; a niece Patricia Allard (Robert) of Marion; a nephew Keith Binger of Irving TX; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Donations may be sent to Temple Judah, the Iowa Civil Liberties Union or the Mercy Hospice House. Arrangements are being handled by Cedar Memorial in Cedar Rapids. Messages of remembrance may be sent to 3227 Riverpointe Circle NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52411.