We offer our condolences to the family and colleagues of the Rev. Carolyn W. Colbert, who died on June 4, 2019 at the age of 85.
Carolyn was born on May 24, 1934, in Oakland, CA to Horton Richard Colbert and Lynette Colbert. She attended Goddard College, VT from 1952 to 1953, following which she went to the University of California at Northridge (1958-1964). From 1972 until 1975, she worked as an Adjunct Faculty at Starr King School for the Ministry, CA teaching Human Sexuality, Awareness Work, and Adolescent Development. Later, Carolyn applied to Starr King, where she earned her Master of Divinity degree in 1978.
Carolyn was welcomed into Preliminary Fellowship in 1982 and ordained on June 10, 1984, by the Unitarian Church of Davis, CA. From 1982 to 1986, she carried out her ministry as an on-call minister at the San Francisco Unitarian Church. In 1986, she was called to settled ministry by Community UU Church, in Kennewick, WA where she would serve until 1989. Rev. Colbert also served the Cascade UU Fellowship, in Wenatchee, WA as a Consulting Minister from 1987 to 1989. In 1989, she accepted another call to settled ministry from the UU Fellowship in San Luis Obispo, CA and ministered for six years (1989-1995). Henceforth in the decade that followed, Rev. Colbert completed a series of parish ministries at the following congregations: the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock, NY (1995-1996); the UU Church at Washington Crossing, NJ (1996-1997); the UU Church of Fresno, CA (1997-1998); and the UU Church in Eugene, OR (1998-2006). She retired from active ministry in 2006; in the same year the UU Church in Eugene, OR, honored her as their Minister Emerita. After her retirement, Rev. Colbert served as an interim minister for three congregations: the UU Fellowship of Los Gatos, CA (2006-2007); the UU Church in Livermore, CA (2007-2008); and the Rogue Valley UU Fellowship, OR (2008-2010).
Rev. Colbert performed services on behalf of the denomination, as a Board Member and as a member of the Pacific Central District (PCD) of the UUA. Also for the PCD she served the Refugio Planning Committee; was Facilitator/Planner for the Buried Voices Convocation of Women and for the PCD Board Retreat, as well as for Davis, Palo Alto and Livermore UU board retreats. She served as a member and Program Chair for the Pacific Northwest District of UUA (PNWD). She was also a member of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.
In addition to her ministry, Rev. Colbert passionately served the communities to which she belonged. She was President for the Ministerial Association of San Luis Obispo County; training organizer on Domestic Violence for The San Luis Obispo Ministerial Association; organizer for the Ecumenical Emergency Homeless Shelter; and appointed member of the District Attorney’s Task Force on Domestic Violence. She was a speaker at Persian Gulf War protests; at Pro Choice rallies; and at several interfaith services. Carolyn served as organizer and preacher for interfaith AIDS service at Cal Poly University, and as a Board member for the Tri Cities, WA, Women’s Shelter. She was instrumental in organizing Nagasaki Memorial ceremonies and various Peace programs in Richland, WA (home of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation). Her workA Structure of Adolescent Workshops was published by Project Community and the Teacher’s Center for Self-Understanding, University of California. In her spare time, Carolyn practiced her Tai Chi form (Yang style), read and wrote poetry. She also loved to travel and had a large plant collection.
Carolyn is survived by her daughters: Charlin Sawyer, Shanda Sawyer, Katherine Sawyer; her beloved black cat Layla; and many UUA communities and friends who knew her during her lifetime of service.
In lieu of flowers, donations will be gratefully accepted by the family. Donations received will be used to cover the funeral and memorial costs and any donations received over these costs will be donated toPlanned Parenthood. If you choose to donate, please make your check payable to Charlin Sawyer with “In honor of the Rev. Carolyn W. Colbert” in the memo line, and send it to Rev. Carolyn Colbert, PO Box 1104, Woodacre, CA 94973.
A celebration of Carolyn’s life will take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 13, 2019 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd, Kensington, CA 94707.
Notes of condolences can be sent to: Charlin Sawyer, PO Box 1104, Woodacre, CA 94973.