The Rev. Robert “Bob” Stephen Slater died on April 28, 2017 at the age of 89.
Bob was born on January 16, 1928 in Pasadena, MD. One of five children, Bob would later say that he owed an “immeasurable love” to his mother, who raised him and his siblings on her own (and later with the support of a stepfather) after their father passed away in 1931. Bob graduated from Glen Burnie High School in 1945, after which he served in the Coast Guard for 18 months. He then attended the University of Baltimore and graduated in 1951, aided by the G.I. Bill. Bob worked part-time during college, including at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, where he met fellow dance teacher Robin Holzbach of Newport News, VA, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Syracuse University and a former school teacher. On November 2, 1950, Bob took what he deemed “the most important and wonderful step of his life” by marrying Robin.
The couple subsequently decided on a career in ministry. Bob graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1955, with a Bachelor of Sacred Theology. His first ministry position was in Pennsylvania at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, where from 1957 to 1959 he served as the congregation’s assistant minister. In 1963 Bob accepted a call to serve the First Parish Church United of Westford, MA, ministering there for five years. Then in 1968 Bob was called to serve the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn, MA, where he faithfully ministered for almost twenty-two years. During those years he came to love every member and friend of the church, and upon his retirement in 1990 the congregation elected Bob their Minister Emeritus. Finally, post-retirement Bob performed a short interim ministry at St. Paul’s Church of Palmer, MA.
Outside his ministry, Bob was a dedicated servant of the communities where he lived. He carried out a variety of work for the Massachusetts Council of Churches and for the Massachusetts Bay District of UU Churches (now part of the New England Region of the UUA). Bob was also active with the UU Christian Fellowship, serving as its president for two years, and founded the UU Psi Symposium.
In his spare time, Bob continued to love going out ballroom dancing with Robin. He was a sports enthusiast, following the Red Sox, the Celtics, and the New England Patriots. He also relished travelling, especially to Hawaii. And even late in life he remained active in Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment.
When writing his own obituary, which was read at the UU Church of Greater Lynn in lieu of a memorial service (in accordance with his wishes), Bob offered this lovely summary of his religious beliefs:
… all experiences in life offer opportunities for growth in the ways of love of all people and things, that the selfless example of Jesus is the way, and that life is continuous, not ending with the death of the physical body.
Bob is survived by daughters Tracy Slater (Franco Daamache) and Kelly Slater (John Wilkinson), nephews Douglas Webster and James Slater, and nieces Linda Trickey and Mary Kearney. He was predeceased by his wife of 65 years Robin H. Slater.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn, earmarked for the restoration and maintenance of their courtyard garden: UUCGL, 101 Forest Avenue, Swampscott, MA 01907.
Notes of condolence can be sent to Tracy Slater at 151 Tremont St 25G, Boston, MA 02111.