We our condolences to the family and colleagues of the Rev. Stephen “Steve” E. Phinney, who died on May 2, 2020, at the age of 80.
Steve was born on March 31, 1940 in Rochester, NY to Robert Morris Phinney and Margaret Smith Phinney. In 1964, he graduated from the University of Rochester, NY with a Bachelor of Science in Physics, following which he completed his graduate work in Astrogeophysics at the University of Colorado (1968-1972). He then worked as a Staff Systems Engineer at IBM Federal Systems Company (FSC), (1973-1982); as an Advisory Systems Engineer at IBM FSC, Manassas, VA (1982-1994); and as a Senior System Engineer at Signal Corporation, Fairfax, VA (1994-1999), before discerning his call to ministry. Later in 2003, Steve received his Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC.
Rev. Phinney was granted Preliminary Fellowship in 2004, and ordained on April 17, 2005, by the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church, Alexandria, VA. Prior to his ordination, he served as an intern minister at the First Unitarian Church of Richmond, VA (2002-2003); after his ordination, he served the UU Church of Ellsworth, ME as an interim minister (2006-2007), and the UU Westside Congregation, Rio Rancho, NM as a settled minister (2007-2013). Rev. Phinney then retired from his ministry on July 31, 2013.
Outside of his parish and interim ministries, Rev. Phinney was President of the Liberal Religious Youth Officer (LRY) in Rochester, NY (1958); board member of the Unitarian Universalist for Social-Justice of the Baltimore-Washington Area, and member of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association. He played piano and taught Religious Education for six years with his wife Lucy, at the UU Congregation of Fairfax, VA (1976-1982). For the Mount Vernon Unitarian Church, VA, Rev. Phinney created a bookstore, served as a member of the Aesthetics Committee (1995), and co-chaired the Sunday Service Committee (1993).
Rev. Phinney also provided his services to several community organizations. He was Assistant Scout Master for the Boys Scout (1982-1992); he Co-chaired the I-95 Crossing Study for Virginia Secretary of Transportation (1991-1994); and chaired the Prince William County, Commission on Transportation, VA (1991-1996). Additionally, he served as a member of the Northern Virginia Citizen’s Advisory Committee of Transportation Coordinating Committee (1992); of the Prince William County Historical Commission, VA (1996-2002); and of the Committee to Restore Brentsville Center, VA (1996).
In his free time, Steve liked restoring antiques, genealogy, camping, antiquing, traveling, reading and collecting. He loved music, played trombone and piano, and sang in church choirs.
Steve is survived by his wife, Cynthia Mortland Phinney; his three children: Sara Phinney Kelley and her husband Dave, Jennifer Phinney Bell and her husband Pat, and Robert Stephen Phinney and his wife Alyce; his five grandchildren: Rachel Bell Hopkins and her husband Cameron Hopkins, Erin Bell, Kathleen (Katie) Kelley, Tobey Phinney and Lucas Phinney; as well as his brother Robert A. Phinney and wife Caroline. He was preceded in death by his parents and his first wife, Lucy Walsh Phinney.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Food Bank of the Rockies.
There is no memorial service planned right now; at a later date, his ashes will be interred at the Phinney family cemetery plot in Barnstable, Cape Cod, MA and scattered on Mount Desert Island, ME.
Notes of condolences may be sent to Cynthia Phinney, 14836 E. Alabama Place, Aurora, CO 80012.
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