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In Memory of Robert R. Walsh (1937-2016)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rev. Robert R. Walsh died on June 19, 2016 at the age of 79.


Rev. Walsh is survived by his beloved wife, Kathleen “Kitty” Ladd Ward; daughter, Elizabeth Walsh (Bill Scott); sons, David Walsh (Debra Ann) and Nathaniel Walsh (Donyele); step children, Samuel S. Ward (Geralyn), and Anthony C. Ward (Karen); and six grandchildren. He is also survived by his former wife, Reed Walsh.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, 689 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139; or to the UUA Living Tradition Fund, PO Box 843154, Boston, MA 02284-3154.


A Memorial Service will be held on July 17, at 2:00 P.M., at First Parish (Old Ship) Church, 90 Main Street, Hingham, MA, 02043. Clergy are invited to robe and process, meeting at the Old Ship Parish House, 107 Main Street.


Notes of condolences may be sent to Robbie’s spouse, Kitty Ward, 121 Downer Ave, Hingham, MA 02043; and/or Robbie's daughter, Beth Walsh, 14 Bertwell Road, Lexington, MA. 02420.

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In memory of Earle R. Ramsdell (1921-2016)

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 6, 2016
The Rev. Earle R. Ramsdell died at home in Baton Rouge on April 23, 2016.
Earle was born May 27, 1921 in Somerville MA, to Lloyd and Anna McDonald
Ramsdell. He graduated from Boston English High School in 1939 and from
Boston University with a BS in Education in 1944. He obtained a Master of
Divinity at Andover Newton Theological School, Newton MA, in 1946 and a
second masters degree in counseling in 1972 from the University of North
Texas. He served two American Baptist pastorates, one in Allston MA from
1946 to 1949 and another in Pawtucket RI from 1949 to 1953. He then served
as the Associate Director of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches from
1953 to 1959, where, as the Director of Radio and Television, he produced
and participated in religious programming.

In 1959 he became the Executive Director of the Greater Flint (Michigan)
Council of Churches, where he had an active role in the unfolding events of
the civil rights movement in the 1960's. He served as co-chair of the
successful effort to pass an open housing ordinance, with Flint becoming the
first city in the nation to enact such an ordinance by public vote. He was
also instrumental in the creation of that city's Human Relations Commission.
In 1973 he joined the staff of the Pastoral Counseling Center in Dallas TX,
retiring in 1995 after twenty years as Director of Education and Training.
He held approved supervisory status with AAMFT and was a diplomate in AAPC
and a certified sex therapist with AASECT. In retirement he served as the
Volunteer Director of Pastoral Care at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge,
having moved to Louisiana in 1995 with his wife Penny as she joined the
faculty of the LSU School of Social Work. Rev.
Ramsdell became an associate member of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers
Association in 2002. An active member of the Southwest UUMA chapter, he was
awarded Life Associate Membership upon his departure from the Unitarian
Church of Baton Rouge.

Rev. Ramsdell is survived by his wife Penny Smith Ramsdell; two daughters,
Cheryl Ramsdell-Speich and her husband Colibri, Lyons CO, and Lynne Jones,
Orlando FL; two grandsons, Christopher Johnson, Grand Prairie TX, and Sean
Jones, Denver CO; two great-grandsons, Alexander and Andrew Johnson; sister
Olive Helen Sweeney and niece Margaret Lucey and her husband Fred,
Newburyport MA; brother Alan Ramsdell and his wife Mary Jo, Mesa AZ; nieces
Nova Nichols, Baton Rouge LA, and Shana Corbiere and her husband Zac, Round
Rock TX; three great-nephews, Zane, Errett, and Wyatt Corbiere; and
great-niece, Brie Matter, San Rafael CA. In lieu of flowers, donations in
memory of the Rev. Earle Ramsdell may be made to the Unitarian Church of
Baton Rouge, 8470 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70806. People can visit for on-line condolences.

Edited as published in on Apr. 24, 2016

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In memory of Mwalimu Imara (1930-2015)

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Reverend Doctor Mwalimu Imara died on October 6, 2015 at the age of 85.


Mwalimu was born on April 21, 1930 to Blanche Irene Allen and Cyril Gomez. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH in 1964, and obtained a Doctor of Ministry degree from Meadville Theological School in 1968.


Mwalimu was ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 1968, by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana, IL. The congregation called him as their Senior Minister, and he held that role until 1970. He went on to serve as minister to Arlington Street Church of Boston, MA from 1970 to 1974. In 1974, he moved over to community ministry, and was voted Minister-at-Large to the Benevolent Fraternity of Unitarian Churches (now Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministries). That same year, he founded the Boston Center for Religion & Psychotherapy, Inc.; and he served as the Founder and Executive Director of the foundation from 1974 to 1979. In recognition of his work, he was accepted as a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors in 1975. Rev. Dr. Imara went on to establish the Hospice Program at the Methodist Hospital of Indiana in 1979, and from 1979 to 1983, he served the program as Founder, Director, Program Developer, Trainer and Pastoral Counselor. In 1982, he reconnected with his Anglican background and was ordained to the Episcopal Priesthood in the Dioceses of Indianapolis, Indiana.


Rev. Dr. Imara fought tirelessly for racial justice, both within the denomination, and the United States as a whole. In 1967, as a response to deep injustices occurring daily, and the murders of Black leaders and activists, Black Americans organized riots and protests. The former UUA Committee on Religion and Race and Department of Social Responsibility, headed by Director Homer Jack, called an Emergency Conference in 1967, to address the racial unrest. Mwalimu was one of four Black seminarians who attended the conference. The conference was a pivotal event in Unitarian Universalist history - many think of the conference as one catalyst for the Black Empowerment Controversy. The Black Empowerment Controversy continued until the mid-1970s, and Mwalimu was involved throughout. He was a member of the Black Affairs Council, and the Greater Boston Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus. The wounds from the Controversy are still present.


Rev. Dr. Imara’s academic career was extensive. From 1978 to 2009 he taught at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, OH. His teachings included post-graduate training programs, organizational methods, and workshops on grief and loss. From 1983 to 1988, he served as Chairman of the Department of Counseling Services and Director of the Human Values in Medicine Program at Morehouse School of Medicine of Atlanta, GA. Additionally, he served as Associate Professor of Human Behavior in the Department of Psychiatry with a cross appointment with the Department of Family Medicine; and as Institutional Chaplain. He continued in the Priesthood during his academic career, and served as Priest-in-Charge at St. Stephens’s Episcopal Church in Griffin, GA from 1984 to 1991.


Rev. Dr. Imara was instrumental in adopting the principles of Maulana (Ron) Karenga’s Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa. He was a revolutionary leader in the Kazana extended family of Philadelphia, and led his family and community in special celebrations for birthdays, Kwanzaa, births, and deaths.


Sala Hilaire remembers her father as, "The greatest man I ever met.” She explains, "He was able to meet people where they were at. He was able to sit down with someone and make them feel like they were the most important person in the world.”


He is survived by his devoted wife, Saburi; his children, Sala Hilaire (John), Hiari Imara, Akosua Davis (Tarik); seven grandchildren: Kidist Getnet, Aminah Hilaire, Nzinga Davis, Emeka Davis, Ashe Davis, Amirah Jabbie, and Kabiyesi Davis; nephews, Michael Van Smith and Marcus Smith; sister-in-law, Nia Latimore; cousins, Bobbie and Charles Pearson; and countless friends and loved ones.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Imara Center’s Rev. Dr. Mwalimu IPD Mentorship Program. The Imara Center, LLC is a behavioral health agency that provides quality behavioral health services and utilizes a trauma informed approach to empower individuals and their communities. The Rev. Dr. Mwalimu Imara IPD program is designed to provide mentorship to youths as they transition from adolescents to adulthood. The program was launched in 2015 in the legacy of Dr. Imara. Please make checks payable to the Imara Center, with "Mwalimu IPD Mentorship Program” written in the memo line, and mail checks to The Imara Center, LLC, 3915 Cascade Road, SW, Suite 205, Atlanta, GA 30331.


Condolences may be sent to Saburi Imara, 4550 Orkney Lane, SW, Atlanta, GA 30331.

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In memory of Kenneth R. Warren (1923-2016)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Rev. Kenneth Roland Warren died on April 16, 2016 at the age of 93.


Kenneth was born on January 21, 1923 in Oklahoma City, OK to Chester Llewellyn and Marguerite (Packham) Warren. He served as a Merchant Marine from 1942 to 1945. He received a Bachelor of Art from Oklahoma City University in 1949; and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Harvard Divinity School in 1952. In 1979, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School.


Rev. Warren was ordained to the ministry in 1952 by the First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City, OK. He was called to serve as minister to the Unitarian Church of Barnstable, MA in 1953. He held the pastorate for the next thirty-eight years, and upon his departure in 1991, was elected Minister Emeritus. From 1953 to 1968, while serving in Barnstable, he also served the Unitarian Universalist Church of Yarmouth Port, MA. He officially retired on the last day of 1991, but spent the next six years serving interim ministries in Canton; Sharon; Dorchester; and Hanover, MA. From 1998 to 2001, he served as Interim Minister to the First Universalist Church of Assinippi of Norwell, MA (now Assinippi Universalist Church), and the congregation elected him Minister Emeritus in 2001.


Committed to the denomination, he served on various committees, including the Plymouth Colony Conference and the Southern New England Unitarian Council. He held membership with the New England Ministers Association and served on the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Nominating Committee.


Additionally, he served the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); the Cape Cod Council of Churches; the United World Federalists; the Barnstable Housing Authority; Cape Cod Mental Health Association; and the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children.


Throughout his career, he was a champion for civil rights. In 1962, he was instrumental in the efforts to provide housing and employment to the "Reverse Freedom Riders" arriving on Cape Cod from the Southern states. He participated in the 1963 March on Washington.


In addition to his ministry, Ken enjoyed spending time with his family, traveling to Europe and the Middle East, conducting genealogical research, and reading - especially in the areas of history and biography.


Of her father, Mary-Elizabeth Brague, writes:


My father, Kenneth Warren, was always outgoing and interested in people.  He asked questions of everyone he met to learn more about them. Throughout his lifetime he made friends wherever he went.  I believe my father was a model for us all in standing up for what he believed in, even if his beliefs were unpopular.  He expressed his thoughts respectfully, and worked to achieve harmony and understanding.  Although he received quite a few accolades in his life, my father was unfailingly modest, turning the conversation to others, instead of himself.  Even at the end of his life, when he required help from others for everyday tasks, he was described to me by many of his caregivers as "always a gentleman."


He is survived by his daughter Mary-Elizabeth Brague and husband David; his grandchildren Katie Wasserman and husband Dave, and Jackie Brague. He also leaves his sister-in-law Wanda Loring, and his close friend Deborah McLister, along with many nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his beloved wife of 53 years, Claire (Loring) Warren.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Social Justice Committee at the Unitarian Church of Barnstable, P.O. Box 285, 3330 Main Street, Barnstable, MA.


Condolences may be sent to Mary-Elizabeth Brague and David Brague, 31 Kerry Drive, Mansfield, MA 02048.

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In memory of Farley W Wheelwright (1916-2016)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Rev. Dr. Farley Wilder Wheelwright died on February 27, 2016 at the age of 99.


Farley was born on December 5, 1916 to a family that included four generations of Unitarians. He received a Bachelor of Art from St. Lawrence University in 1957; a Master of Divinity from Hartford Seminary Foundation in 1961; and a Doctor of Ministry from Andover-Newton Theological Seminary in 1977.


Rev. Wheelwright was ordained to the ministry in 1961 by the North Greenwich Congregational Church, CT. He was called to serve as minister to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Central Nassau, NY in 1962. He held pastorates with the Unitarian Society of Cleveland, OH from 1968 to 1972; the First Unitarian Church of New Bedford, MA from 1974 to 1980; and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sepulveda, CA from 1981 to 1985. The Sepulveda congregation named him Minister Emeritus upon his retirement in 1985. Post-retirement, he served interim ministries at the Unitarian Church of South Australia of Adelaide, SA; Arlington Street Church of Boston MA; and the Murray UU Church of Attleboro, MA.


Rev. Wheelwright was deeply invested in the denomination, and his service extended far beyond the parish. He was a founding trustee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for Religious Humanism; President of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (UU Peace Fellowship); co-founder of Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness (with the late Robert Wolsch); Chair of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association’s Ballou-Channing District; Board member of the Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners Association; member of the Pastoral Education Network; and Arrangements Person to the Executive Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.


A staunch social activist, Rev. Wheelwright fought against the racial injustices of the 1960’s. Between 1962 and 1968, he traveled Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, doing voter registration, becoming more politically radical and being incarcerated more than once. Upon his arrival to Garden City, NY, in 1962, he led the Church of Central Nassau to Washington for the now- legendary March on Washington. He was one of the first to respond to the call of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to come to Selma, AL in March, 1965. Their friendship became such that three years later, Dr. King accepted Farley’s invitation to preach his installation sermon when he was called to the Cleveland Unitarian Society. Three days before Farley’s installation, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, TN.


While serving the church in Cleveland, OH, Rev. Wheelwright founded the Cleveland Clergy Counseling Center on Abortion. All other area UU clergy and many other denominations’ clergy were involved, each voluntarily putting themselves in jeopardy of being arrested and jailed for breaking the law for scouting out-of-state doctors willing to provide safe abortions. Hundreds of young and middle-aged women were sent as far away as London for safe abortions. The group made national news when Farley’s photo in clerical robes made banner headlines reading, “He leads young girls to abortion.”


For all his notoriety as a social activist, however, Farley treasured his career as a pastoral minister above all else. “When I think of an afternoon spent supporting a grieving mother because of the crib death of her two-month old baby, my participation in the social activist movement seems almost inconsequential,” he said. “It is the most exalted job I can possibly conceive of for myself and my talents,” he continued.


Farley and his wife Virginia moved to San Miguel, Mexico in 1993. Both were involved in the Mexican community and with the UU Fellowship of San Miguel (UUFSMA), serving on the board of directors, periodically delivering sermons, and helping shape the Fellowship’s identity in an expat community. In 2015, the Fellowship nominated Farley for the Annual Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism. Never one to slow down, at age 97, Farley published his first book, Twice-Told Tales, a collection of some of his favorite sermons from over the years. Twice Told Tales is available for purchase on


He is survived by three daughters and two sons: Delia Moon; Cindi Harnicher; Barbara Kafka; John Kafka; and Tom Kafka.


In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Escuela de Educacion Especial ( and/or to Jovenes Adelante (


Condolences may be sent to Delia Moon at 303 Mesa Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93109.


Swap Farley Stories:  Sunday, May 22nd at 3 PM, Arlington Street Church chapel, Boston. 351 Boylston Street entry.


To remember the Rev. Farley Wilder Wheelwright we shall celebrate a 99 year, illustrious life of wisdom, wit, social action, compassion and more. All with stories and memories of Farley are welcome. Those who cannot attend but want to add their thoughts can send them to
RSVP for the gathering to the same address to help with a count. Direct questions to Mike Ball or George Whitehouse. 

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In memory of Paul Ratzlaff (1945-2016)

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 4, 2016

The Rev. Paul Wilmer Ratzlaff died on February 28, 2016 at the age of 70.


Paul was born on July 24, 1945 to Leslie and Nina Ratzlaff in Kingston, Jamaica. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Warner Pacific College in 1966; a Master of Arts from Colgate University in 1968; and a Certificate from the Stevens Gesner Project to Train Men and Women for the Unitarian Universalist Ministry in 1973.


Rev. Ratzlaff was ordained by the Unitarian Society of New Brunswick, NJ in 1974, and ministered with the congregation for the next six years. In 1980, he was called to the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, where he served for over twenty years, until 2002. He went on to serve a year of Interim Ministry with the South Nassau UU Congregation of Freeport, NY, and was subsequently called to the UU Fellowship of Huntington, NY, where he served as settled minister for eight years until his retirement in 2012.


Rev. Ratzlaff was very active within the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Metro New York District, and served as chairperson of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association’s Continuing Education, Network, Training, Enrichment and Renewal (C.E.N.T.E.R.) committee. He co-founded the New Jersey Unitarian Universalist Ministers Council, and served as President of the council.


Within the community, Paul held membership with the Executive Board of the League of Women Voters; the East Brunswick Area Clergy Council; and the Morris Area Clergy Council. Additionally, he served an interfaith, interracial organization dedicated to building affordable housing in the Morristown area. While ministering in Long Island, he continued his work in social justice in many areas, including LGBTQ rights, marriage equality, affordable housing, workers’ rights, and promoting understanding and caring among all people.


Of her father, Hannah Ratzlaff writes:


He dedicated his life to social justice and caring for others. He was an incredibly generous and loving person who devoted himself to his family and truly taught me the value of hard work and commitment.  He had an amazing balance of kindness, wit, and empathy which allowed him to see many sides of an issue, often acting as the voice of reason for me.


Paul is survived by his wife, Barbara; children, Hannah (Cory) and Ian (Louise); granddaughter, Giuliana; brother, Dale (Marcy); father in law, Hy; Aunt, Evajoy; Uncle, Sydney; Stepmother, Grace, and many other beloved family and friends.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to New York Memory Center or to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. 


Notes of condolences may be sent to Barbara Ratzlaff, 557 Atlantic Avenue Apt 2 D-S Brooklyn NY 11217.

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In memory of Orlanda R. Brugnola (1946-2016)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Rev. Dr. Orlanda Brugnola died on February 24, 2016 at the age of 69.


Orlanda was born on April 1, 1946 to Anthony Brugnola and Kathrine Schwellenbach. She received a Bachelor of Arts from The University of California, Berkeley in 1966, and a Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in 1979. She earned certification in mediation and conflict resolution, and in art therapy, and was registered as an art therapist by the American Expressive Therapy Association in 1989. In 1998, Orlanda received a Master of Fine Art in Painting from the City University of New York, and in 2014, a Doctor of Ministry from New York Theological Seminary.


Rev. Brugnola was ordained to the ministry in 1979 by the First Unitarian Church of Berkeley, CA. She served for over thirty years as a community minister. She was employed as a Unitarian Universalist Chaplain at Columbia University from 1988 to 2011; Chaplain for the Arts at Columbia University from 1989 to 1996; and Unitarian Universalist Chaplain at Union Theological Seminary from 2009 to 2011.  From 1981 to 2016, she worked as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York), and taught Philosophy and Eastern and Western Religions. Through John Jay, she taught philosophy at both Rikers Island and a New York residential drug treatment program. Additionally, Orlanda spent several years teaching ministerial formation and conflict resolution courses for students at Skidmore College, Union Theological Seminary, and Meadville Lombard Theological School.


Rev. Brugnola was called to serve as assistant minister to the First Unitarian Congregation Society of Brooklyn, NY in 1981. Between 1981 and 2009, she was affiliated with and held a variety of ministerial positions at First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn. She was voted Chaplain Emerita of First Unitarian Brooklyn in 2009. She went on to hold interim ministries at the UU Fellowship of Poughkeepsie, NY from 2009 to 2011; the UU Congregation of Hudson Valley, NY from 2011 to 2012; and the UU Congregation of Queens, NY from 2013 to 2014. In 2013, she was named Affiliate Minister to the Community Church of New York, and in 2014, she was named Interim Church Administrator. She held both positions until her death.


Rev. Brugnola worked tirelessly to dismantle racism and oppression within the world. From 1991 to 2016, she sat on the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Metro New York District Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee (formally the Racial Concerns Committee), and from 1997 to 2016 she served as an active Board Member of the Clinton Association for a Renewed Environment, an organization that seeks to create affordable housing in New York City.  She served as co-vice president of Diverse, Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM) from 2013 to 2015. Committed to the betterment of the denomination, Orlanda served on the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Commission on Appraisal from 2003 to 2009, and the UUA Board of Review from 2013 to 2016.


Orlanda was a strong supporter of interfaith dialogue and interreligious peace. She planned many conferences and programs to encourage such dialogue, including the Parliament of the World’s Religions. She served as President of the Institute for the Study of Genocide for nineteen years; and was a longtime supporter of both the International Association of Liberal Religious Women and the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF).  She sat on the board of the IARF U.S. Chapter, and organized workshops for the International IARF Congress.


A talented studio artist, Orlanda exhibited photographs, paintings, drawings and sculpture in New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.  She created art for most of her life, and her works were displayed in many group shows and over nine solo shows.  Orlanda had over twenty years of curatorial experience. Her aptitude and passion for the arts led her to spend over twenty years serving on the Board of Directors of the American Festival of Microtonal Music, and six years serving as President of the Society for the Arts, Religion and Contemporary Culture.


Orlanda was honored throughout her life for her many contributions to the ministry, academia, social justice, and the arts. She was elected fellow of the Society for the Arts and Religion & Contemporary Culture in 1993, and she was elected as the Artist-in-Residence for the Henry Street Settlement in 1999-2000 and 2001-2002. John Jay College of Criminal Justice awarded Orlanda with a Performance Award for Teaching Faculty in 1999; and a recognition for twenty five years of teaching at the college in 2006. She received a recognition of outstanding service from the International Association for Religious Freedom, U.S, Chapter, in 2006, and was the recipient of the Caribbean America Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., Business Visionary Award in 2008.


To Orlanda, dear friend Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson writes:


My Friend, you became one of my Teachers, and then became one of my Students, while still being one of my Mentors, and of course always my Colleague. You became one of my Sisters. (And did I remember to say Teacher???)  It was really complicated, but nothing was ever easy, or simple, or uncomplicated with you Orlanda: Minister, Shaman, Chaplain, Family....


Of Orlanda, dear friend Dr. Janice Marie Johnson writes:


Our world lost a bright light, one whose deeds spoke of a generosity of spirit that knew no bounds. Orlanda has been a source not only of inspiration, but indeed of transformation. A woman of many gifts, she had an extraordinary understanding of the complexity of the human condition.


She defined and demanded excellence. Her gentle yet sharp eyes and her patient yet unyielding ears were meant to bring confidence and surety. Orlanda hoped to shepherd us to our best selves.


Her commitment to persons of all ages, from all walks of life and -- of diverse abilities -- touched us in ways that we are just beginning to comprehend. We recognized the generosity of spirit, joy, love, and hope that she gave those with whom she came in contact. She embraced life and she would want us to do likewise. Orlanda will live on through the many hearts and minds whose lives she touched. Our lives will reflect her legacy.


A memorial service will be held on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm at The Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist.


Notes of condolences can be sent In Care Of Rev. Bruce Southworth, The Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist, 40 East 35th Street New York, NY 10016.


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In Memory of Robert M. Doss (1927 - 2016)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Monday, March 14, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016


The Rev. Dr. Robert Mabry Doss died on February 12, 2016 at the age of 88.


Bob was born on September 12, 1927 in Jacksonville, FL. He served in the United States Army as a Sergeant Major in Nagoya, Japan from 1946 to 1947, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Art from the University of Richmond in 1949. Called to the ministry, he studied at Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and Starr King School for the Ministry, and he graduated from Starr King with a Bachelor of Divinity in 1959. He obtained his Doctor of Divinity in 1980 from the Meadville-Lombard Theological School.


Rev. Doss was ordained to the ministry in 1959 by the Unitarian Church of Rockville, MD and was subsequently called to serve as minister. In 1963, he was called to serve as minister to the First Unitarian Society of Wilmington, DE. He held the pastorate for over thirty years until his retirement in 1994, at which point the congregation named him Minister Emeritus.


Rev. Doss’ service to the denomination spanned over many years. He served as Chair of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Ministerial Fellowship Committee from 1968 to 1971; President of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association; Board Member of Beacon Press; Board Member of the St. Lawrence Foundation for Theological Education; Member of the UUA Panel on Theological Education; member of the UUA Religious Education Accreditation Committee (now the Religious Education Credentialing Committee); various positions on Greater Washington Association of Unitarian Universalist Congregations; and member of several ministerial study groups.


Outside of the denomination, he was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; board member of Planned Parenthood; and a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union. And he marched in Selma, AL.


Bob had many talents: singing, drawing designs and caricatures, and writing children’s stories to accompany his sermons. His love of nature, as a “naturalistic humanist,” evolved into camping summers in Maine where he hiked, canoed, and collected and carved walking sticks. Outdoors at home, he loved to build stone patios and cairns, plant trees, and take meditation walks in the morning.


He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Margaret W. Doss; his daughter, Katherine D. Briggs (Michael); his son, Kenneth M. Doss (Alicia); his brothers, James V. Doss, and Thomas L. Doss; his sister-in-law, Norma Doss; and his five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents James and Sarah Doss, and his brother William H. Doss.


Condolences may be sent to Peggy Doss, Ken Doss, and Kathy Briggs at 112 Wynwood Drive, Wilmington, DE 19810-4428.


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In memory of John A. Farmakis (1923-2016)

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Rev. John A. Farmakis died on January 24th, 2016 at the age of 92.


John was born on August 30, 1923 to Alexander Farmakis and Henrietta (Cunningham) Farmakis. He received a Bachelor of Art from the University of Pennsylvania in 1944. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1946, in hopes of serving the mission of the United Nations; he was stationed in Germany and served time in Fort Hood. After leaving the army, he enrolled in Harvard Divinity School. He received a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Harvard Divinity School in 1950, and continued on to study as a graduate student through the 1950-1951 academic year.


Rev. Farmakis was ordained to the ministry in 1952 by All Souls Universalist Church of Oakland, ME. He held a pastorate at All Souls from 1951 to 1953. He was next called to serve as minister to First Parish Church of Saugus, MA in 1953, and he remained there until he joined the United States Navy as a Chaplain in 1954.  He served as a Navy Chaplain for two years. Upon his release in 1956, he was called to the Unitarian Universalist Society of Stanford, CT, and he served as minister to the congregation until 1970. In 1970, he was called to serve as minister to the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence. Rev. Farmakis held that pastorate for eighteen years, and retired from active ministry on his sixty-fifth birthday in 1988. Following retirement, he served as interim chaplain to Manchester College, Oxford (now Harris-Manchester College) throughout the 1988 -1989 academic year.


Rev. Farmakis engaged within the denomination outside of parish ministry. He was active within the Universalist Service Committee (now Unitarian Universalist Service Committee) and the Universalist Historical Society (now Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society), and served on the Advisory Board of the Universalist Service Committee from 1957 to 1961. He was a member of the Planning Committee of the Universalist Church of America; trustee of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) Metropolitan New York District; and member of the UUA Department of Overseas and Interfaith Relations Advisory Board from 1961 to 1964.


John was born in Philadelphia, and of Greek and Scottish decent. He remained always a staunch Philadelphian, and his grandfather, John P. Farmakis was instrumental in the building of the city’s St George’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral. John deeply loved his family, and enjoyed reading, research, and participating in many Philadelphia-based community activities.


Of John, Rev. Judy Buck-Glenn writes:


"John was a dear friend of nearly thirty years. He was honest, honorable, kind, and deeply-read, with a keen mind and a passionate commitment to Enlightenment liberalism. He is deeply missed by a small circle of very devoted friends, who feel privileged to have known this quietly-rather-great man." 


He is survived by his nephew, John L. Farmakis, Jr., and his family, in addition to several close friends.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The John A. Farmakis Memorial Fund, Att’n Patrice M. Wiseley, University of Pennsylvania, Associate Director of Gift Planning Services, 3535 Market Street, Suite 500, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3309.


Notes of condolences may be sent to John L. Farmakis Jr. at

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In Memory of Frances Jeanne Melis Mills (1942-2016)

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 2, 2016



The Rev. Frances Jeanne Melis Mills died on February 2, 2016 at the age of 73.


Jeanne was born on October 18, 1942 to Francis Kenneth Melis and Frances Inez Esson Melis. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Bucknell University in 1963, and a Masters of Education from Columbia University in 1965. She served in the then-newly-minted Peace Corps, where she taught English in South America from 1965 to 1967. She went on to receive a Master of Business Administration from Simmons College in 1983, and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in 1997.


Rev. Melis Mills was ordained in 1997 at the Second Congregational Society, Unitarian Universalist in Nantucket, MA, and her ordination was the first in 150 years for the congregation. She spent the next thirteen years serving interim ministries; she held pastorates in Nashville, TN; Midland, MI; Tulsa, OK; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Huntington, NY; Schenectady, NY; Eugene, OR; and Savannah, GA. She retired from the ministry in 2010.


Jeanne’s life was rich with diverse experiences. During her time in the Peace Corps, she served as an education specialist for Colombia Educational Television, a post that included visiting public schools and helping teachers utilize television programming. After returning to the United States, Jeanne worked for the Western History Center at the University of Utah, on an Indian Oral History Project and taught in two Massachusetts public school districts. She settled in Massachusetts with her family in 1970, and worked with friends to launch the Scituate Environmental Effort S.E.E., an organization with a goal of preserving marshland from development and developing a successful recycling program within Scituate.  Later she worked as an archivist at the Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, MA cataloging and preserving history. After receiving her MBA in 1983, she worked for a time as a financial planner. She received the call to ministry in 1993 and enrolled in divinity school, thus beginning her final career journey.


Upon retiring from the ministry, she searched for a new home and settled at last in a charming cottage in Dorset, VT where she shared her “grandmother cottage” with family and friends.  She enjoyed feeding delicious food and fresh baked bread to all, while decorating her home with flowers from her garden.  Much energy was injected into the house by the antics of her beloved companions, her Manx cats, Lucy and Max. 


Her sister, Darleen, remembers Jeanne dearly as “a woman of great energy and interests who could accomplish much.” Family and friends remember her as an inspiring, caring and free-spirited person.  Fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, Stephen Sheppard remembers, “Jeanne was the best of us.  Giving, caring, unselfish.  Her good, positive, energy became part of us all from the moment she came into our lives so many years ago.  We miss her already.”


Jeanne is survived by brothers Richard and wife Marilyn Melis; Gerald and wife Gwendolyn Melis; sisters, Darleen Melis and husband Irving Ingraham, M.D.; and Carole Melis, Esq. She is missed by her two daughters - Nicole Mills and her partner Eric Whittelsey and their son, Henry Benson Mills-Whittelsey; daughter, Sara Mills and their father, Ellsworth Benson “Nick” Mills. Her nieces and nephews include Heather and Brian West and their children Kipp and Hadley; Kay Melis Pannier; Adrianne and Keith Melis, Leah and Alexander Ingraham.


A memorial service will be held at the United Church of Dorset, 143 Church Street, Dorset, VT onMarch 5, 2016 at 11:00AM with a reception following at the church.  Jeanne’s ashes will be buried next to her mother in the Esson Family Cemetery in Mt. Angel, Oregon during the family reunion in July.


In lieu of flowers, any donations may be sent to the Natural Resources Defense Council or the Knox County Humane Society in Rockland, Maine.


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