The Rev. Jack Daniel Zoerheide died on March 2, 2018 at the age of 93.
Jack was born on June 27, 1924 in Kent City, MI to parents Frank and Grace. He served in the US Navy as a lieutenant and saw active service from 1943 to 1944. Jack’s military service allowed him to enter Harvard Divinity School, where he earned his Bachelor of Divinity in 1950.
Rev. Zoerheide was ordained on April 22, 1951 by Arlington Street Church in Boston, MA. His first ministry was at the Second Parish in Hingham, MA, where he served from 1952 to 1957. Rev. Zoerheide was then called to serve the First Parish in Needham, MA from 1957 to 1969. In that year he was called to the Massachusetts’s Winchester Unitarian Society, where he served for the next ten years. From 1979 to 1981 Rev. Zoerheide ministered to New Hampshire’s Keene UU Church, following which he carried out two Interim Ministries: at All Souls Church in Braintree, MA (1981 – 1982); and at the UU Church of Fort Myers, FL (1982 – 1982). Finally, Rev. Zoerheide was called to serve the UU Church of Tarpon Springs, FL from 1984 until his retirement in 1989.
Outside of his parish ministry, Rev. Zoerheide served several denominational organizations, including the Church of the Larger Fellowship, Liberal Religious Youth, the Pamphlet Commission, and the Massachusetts Bay District of the UU Ministers’ Association—of which he served as Vice President.
Throughout his ministry, Rev. Zoerheide was a staunch advocate for civil rights. In 1964 he joined the civil rights protests in Williamstown, NC, where he spent 48 hours in jail after attempting to dine with people of color at a segregated restaurant. Jack also marched in Massachusetts with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965. And Rev. Zoerheide was a founder and board member of Winchester, MA’s ABC program for helping students of color attend high school.
Jack enjoyed fishing, hunting, gardening on large scale, mycology, and carpentry: He even built a log house “according to basic ecological concepts.” He loved to spend time in his cottage on Lake Lucerne in Maine, and his family continues to enjoy this beautiful respite.
In delivering his farewell sermon to the Keene UU Church in 1981, Rev. Zoerheide offered this heartfelt call to his parishioners:
Exposure to differences in lifestyles, values, beliefs—the risk of moving out of self into a new center of the “between” is religious enterprise, which gives zest to life. It is adventure, excitement. This is the highest and best form of knowledge—to know, understand, communicate with another. …
We proclaim universal love.
Let us risk loving each other.
Jack is survived by his children Laina, Dean, Brian, Greg, and Julie; his grandchildren Jord, Eryn, Chandra, Melissa, Gabriel, Hans, Bea, Julie, Jahsiah, Jahfar, and Will; and his eleven great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by Marie Annette Sandberg, his devoted wife and partner of 57 years; his siblings Holly, Donald, Norma, Robert, Fern, Mary, and Betty; his granddaughter Keyra; and his great-grandson Wyatt.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Association, Attn: Gift Processing, 24 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA 02110.
Notes of condolence may be sent to Dean Zoerheide at email@example.com and 330 Gaudens Rd, Cornish, NH 03745.