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In Memory of . . . Virginia Vaught Sparling (1925-2012)

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 14, 2012

The Rev. Dr. Virginia Vaught Sparling died on February 23, 2012. She was 87 years old.

Rev. Dr. Sparling was born in Caddo Gap, AR on Feb 3, 1925 to Grace (Davis) and Chester Allen Vaught. Education was very important to Rev. Sparling and she attained quite a few degrees throughout her life. In 1946, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology from MacMurray College in 1946. She went on to attain a Master of Social Work and a Master of Education from the University of Washington in 1969 and 1979 respectively. MacMurray College gifted her with an Honorary Doctorate in 1981. And in 1991, she earned her final degree: a Master of Divinity from Northwest Theological Union.

Rev. Sparling was ordained at East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, WA in 1992. She was called to the Pacific Northwest District where she served from 1990-2000. She also served as a ministerial consultant at the Olympic UU Fellowship in Port Angeles, WA from 1993-1995; and the Skagit UU Fellowship in Mt. Vernon, WA from 1991-1999.

In 2004, Rev. Sparling’s deteriorating health forced her to begin using a wheelchair. Despite, the disability, she helped found the Methow Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (currently non-UUA affiliated), and was its minister for several years following its inception.

Rev. Sparling felt deeply passionate about education and community building through the arts. She was a vocal advocate of public education, and was elected to the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), becoming its President in 1979. An enthusiast of opera, ballet, and theatre, she became involved in the Confluence Art Gallery in Twisp, WA. There, she served as Board President, organizing shows, and leading capital drives to buy an additional building and install a monument in a public park.

In a letter to family and friends, her husband, Gerald, noted, "Life had given her many adventures and challenges which she took on with verve and gusto. Although she is gone; she still lives on in our hearts and minds.”

Rev. Sparling is survived by her husband of 61 years, Gerald Sparling, MD. She is also survived by son, Gerald Jr., and his wife, Andrea; son, Eugene, and his wife, Marta; and three grandchildren, Isaac, Nina, and Joslyn.

There will be two memorial services for the Rev. Dr. Sparling. The first will be held at the Eastshore Unitarian Church, 12700 SE 32nd St., Bellevue, WA 98005 on Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. The second will take place at the Winthrop Barn, 51 N. Highway 20, Winthrop, WA 98862 on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.

Notes of condolence may be sent to Dr. Gerald Sparling, P.O. Box 954, 865 Wolf Creek Road, Winthrop, WA 98862.

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In Memory of . . . David Gilmartin (1941-2012)

Posted By Administration, Monday, May 14, 2012

The Reverend David Gilmartin died unexpectedly on March 11, 2012 in Eugene, OR. He was 71 years old.

Rev. Gilmartin was born and raised in Boston, MA. He was the son of Aron Seymour and Helen Lasker Gilmartin. His father, Aron, was also a Unitarian Universalist minister.

Rev. Gilmartin attended Harvard University and earned his B.A. in 1969. He then went on to earn his M. Div. from Starr King School for Religious Leadership in 1971.

As a community minister and social worker, Rev. Gilmartin spent a significant portion of his life tirelessly advocating for accessibility. He worked for organizations such as the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, CA; the Center for Independence of the Disabled in Belmont, CA; the Ministry of Accessibility in Walnut Creek, CA; Ferry Beach UU Camp and Conference Center in Saco, ME; the New Horizons Independent Living Center in Prescott Valley, AZ; and the Resources for Independent Living in Sacramento, CA; among others.

His colleague, Alicia Forsey, described him as kind, gentle, and intelligent, and added that he had a memory "like a steel trap.”

Rev. Gilmartin was predeceased by his sister, Alice Gilmartin. He is survived by his brother Peter Gilmartin. Notes of condolence may be sent to Peter Gilmartin, 110 Highland St., Milton, MA 02186.

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In Memory of . . . Mary M. Kapper (1925-2011)

Posted By Administration, Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Reverend Mary M. Kapper died on November 25, 2011. She was 86 years old.

Rev. Kapper was born in Brooklyn, NY on June 11, 1925 to Willard B. and Genevieve (Brady) Kapper. She graduated from St. Joseph’s College in 1947, and attained her Masters of Social Work from Case Western Reserve University in 1978. She received her Masters of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in 1988.

Rev. Kapper was ordained by the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists on May 14, 1989. She was called to serve the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mankato and the Nora Unitarian Universalist Church in Hanska from 1990-1991. She was a community minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley from 1991-2001. She also served as a hospice chaplain for Pathways Hospice and Home health in Oakland, CA. In 2002, Rev. Kapper became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron and served as the church’s Social Justice Chair from 2006-2007.

Rev. Kapper was involved in many social causes, working tirelessly to promote the civil rights of women and minorities. She helped to establish Akron Women Against Rape in 1974.

Rev. Kapper is survived by her son, John Barry and his wife, Rosemary; her son, Tom Barry; her son, James Barry; her daughter, Mary Ann Seiberling; her son, Matthew Barry and his fiancé, Chris; her son, Daniel Barry; her daughter, Jeannine Marks and her husband, Steve; her daughter, Maureen Rocha and her husband, Rodrigo; ten grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Rev. Kapper was preceded in death by a son, Mark Barry; and a daughter, Claire Simpson.

Family and friends paid their respects to the memory of Rev. Kapper on November 30, 2011 at Fairlawn West United Church of Christ in Akron, OH.

Donations in Rev. Kapper’s memory may be made to Summa Hospice and Pallative Care Center, Foundation Office, P.O. Box 2090, Akron, OH 44398-6453.

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In Memory of . . . Richard Reno Neff (1937-2012)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Reverend Richard Reno Neff died on March 17, 2012. He was 74 years old.

Rev. Neff was born in Bronx, NY, on June 11, 1937, to Mary Himoff and Earl Reno, and lived there until he was nine. His mother later married Walter S. Neff, who adopted him. He attended the University of Chicago for two and a half years and went on to earn his Master of Library Science from Rutgers University. He received his Bachelor of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry on June 28th, 1970.

Rev. Neff was ordained by the Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington Hills, MI on April 4, 1971 where he also served from 1971-1975. He was called to the Hollis Unitarian Church in Hollis, NY from 1976-1979 and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Joliet, IL from 1980-1986. In 1986, he answered a call to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Essex County in Orange, NJ where he stayed until his retirement from the ministry in 1994.

In addition to serving the UU ministry, Rev. Neff managed libraries in Livingston, Butler and Linden, NJ. He loved working as a reference librarian but health issues forced him to retire in 2002.

Even in his final days, Rev. Neff enjoyed sharing his life journey in his e-newsletter "Rick’s Journal.” He will be remembered for his talents writing and performing folk music, as well as for his commitment to the civil rights movement. He joined Martin Luther King, Jr. in the historic Selma to Montgomery march in 1966.

Rev. Neff is survived by his sons, Jeremy and Joshua Neff; his brother Alan Neff; and three grandchildren.

There was a memorial service on April 14, 2012. Notes of condolence may be sent to

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In Memory of . . . Dorris Dow Alcott (1920-2012)

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 23, 2012

The Reverend Doris Dow Alcott died of heart failure on April 3, 2012. She was 91 years old.

Rev. Alcott was born and raised in Winthrop, ME. She was the daughter of a factory worker and a homemaker. In 1938, she married Ernest F. Alcott, a descendent of Amos Bronson Alcott, the American Transcendentalist, and his daughter, famous author Louisa May Alcott.

Alcott began her college education in 1976 and graduated from Goddard College in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in religious education. Additionally, she took courses at Harvard University and earned her MRE through the UUA's Independent Study Program in 1982.

Rev. Alcott was ordained in 1982 at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church in Lutherville, MD. She was called to serve the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church and served as Director of Religious Education there from 1983-1985. She was also the Joseph Priestly District's first RE Consultant from 1986-1995. Rev. Alcott served on the curriculum team that developed "World Religions for Junior Youth," the last curriculum kit published by the UUA. She was a member of the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County in Churchville, MD.

Later in life, she became an active member of numerous ecumenical groups and was active in religious education. Rev. Alcott retired in 2008 but continued to serve as a guest pastor, and officiated at weddings, funerals and memorial services. An experienced traveller, Rev. Alcott visited all seven continents and, in 1993, joined an expedition that travelled to Antarctica. She enjoyed talking to colleagues in chat rooms and once said, "I retired from ministry but not from life!"

Rev. Alcott was predeceased by her husband, Ernest F. Alcott. She is survived by her sons Colin C. Alcott and his wife Janet, of Albuquerque, NM and Bronson E. Alcott of Columbia, MD; by two granddaughters; and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service for Rev. Alcott will be held at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Rd., Lutherville-Timonium, MD 21093, on May 11, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.. Notes of condolence may go to Bronson Alcott, 10654 Faulkner Ridge Cir., Columbia, MD 21044.

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In Memory of . . . Robert "Bob" Thayer (1934-2012)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Rev. Robert Atherton Thayer of Fairhaven, MA died peacefully surrounded by family and colleagues on April 5, 2012. He was one week shy of his 78th birthday.

Rev. Thayer was the husband of Mary-Ellen Tunney and the son of the late Victor G. Thayer of Butte, MT and the late Hallie Mae Glover of Charleston W. VA.

Rev. Thayer was born in Charleston W. VA, April 11, 1934. When his father became a chemist for DuPont in Delaware, his family bought a gentleman’s farm in rural Newark, DE where Rev. Thayer attended Tower Hill School in Wilmington. He then went to Harvard University, 1952-56, 57 Harvard Divinity School, where he received a BA in History. During his college years he spent many summers as a fire look out in the Bitter foot Idaho Wilderness. While at Harvard, Rev. Thayer met his first wife of 34 years Pamela J. Thayer who passed away in 1991.

From there they ventured to Chicago, IL to McCormick Seminary and Rev. Thayer was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1960.

He served his first church at the 1st Presbyterian Church of Framingham. It was during the Civil Rights movement that Bob made a spiritual decision to change his religious affiliation, received his preliminary fellowship with the UUA in 1967 and became the minister in Medfield, MA at the First Parish UU, as well as chaplain at the Billerica prison. In 1978, his family made a life change and moved to Fairhaven where he was the minister of Fairhaven Unitarian Memorial Church for 22 years until his semi retirement in 1996. He served a one year interim ministry at the 2nd Congregational Meetinghouse of Nantucket, before beginning a 10 year ministry at the Brockton Unitarian Universalist Church at the age of 70 until his sudden death.

In addition to his wife of 16 years he is survived by his three children; Stephanie Pires of Newport, RI, Jenifer Thayer of Los Alamos, NM, and Robert Thayer of Woodland, CA; two step children, Patrick Whittle of Long I. NY, James Whittle of Ehime Japan, five grandchildren and countless friends and colleagues. All were inspired by Rev. Thayer’s energy to minister, heal, and help the community on many boards and committees. In addition, Rev. Thayer was an avid sailor, woodworker, woodsman, writer and theology scholar.

A memorial service for Rev. Thayer will be held at the Unitarian Memorial Church, 102 Green St., Fairhaven, on April 12, 2012 at 1:00 PM, followed by a reception. For memorial register go to Notes of condolence may be sent to Mary-Ellen Tunney at 565 Sconticut Neck Rd, Fairhaven, MA 02719.

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In Memory of . . . Sidney L. Freeman (1927-2012)

Posted By Janette M. Lallier, Friday, February 17, 2012

The Rev. Dr. Sidney L. Freeman died on January 12, 2012. He was 85 years old.  Rev. Dr. Freeman was born in Madison, WI on January 23, 1927 to Jacob and Gertrude Freeman. Rev. Freeman attained his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin, his Master of Arts degree from Bowling Green University, and his PhD from Cornell University.

He served at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, NC, for 32 years after being ordained there in 1957. He had served as lay minister, prior to that, at the First Unitarian Church of Lynchburg, VA. He was Minister Emeritus at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte.

Rev. Freeman was granted full ministerial fellowship in 1957 following his experience as a lay leader in Lynchburg. While there, his roles included preaching, administration, and guiding the life of the church. Freeman also served as Chaplain of Cedar Spring Hospital in Pineville, NC. Besides his work in ministry, Rev. Freeman taught numerous college classes. He was Instructor of Communication Arts at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC, and Associate Professor of Speech and Drama at Sweet Briar College in VA.

Rev. Freeman was a civil rights leader, a community activist, and a visionary for religious tolerance. His work, alongside others in the civil rights movement, is honored in an exhibit at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, NC. His family reports that Rev. Freeman was once an invited guest, of President John F. Kennedy, to the White House. He was also an advocate for mental health, serving as president of Charlotte’s Mental Health Association.

Rev. Freeman is survived by his wife, Gaynell B. Freeman; his children, Lynn Freeman Love, David Freeman, Michael Freeman, and T. Michael Williams; twelve grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Family and friends paid their respects to the memory of Rev. Dr. Sidney Freeman on January 21, 2012 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte with the Rev. Jay Leach officiating.

Donations in Rev. Freeman’s memory may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, 234 Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte, NC 28211 or the charity of one’s choice.

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In Memory of . . . Roger Otis Kuhrt (1941-2012)

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 6, 2012

The Rev. Dr. Roger Otis Kuhrt died on January 17, 2012. He was 70 years old.  Rev. Kuhrt was born in Seattle, WA, on June 29, 1941 to Fred H. and Edna E. Kuhrt. Rev. Kuhrt attained his Bachelor of Arts degree from Whitworth College, his Master of Arts degree from the University of Washington, and his PhD from Columbia Pacific University. He also studied at Washington State University.


He was ordained by the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) in 1963. He was called to serve the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Olympia, WA, from 1978-1985; and from 1980-1998, he served the Tahoma Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Tacoma, WA. During his ministry, he also served other Pacific Northwest District congregations on a consulting basis.


Rev. Kuhrt, who was described as a "lover of knowledge and seeker of truth,” was a member of a number of professional, community, and religious organizations over the years, serving on the boards of many.


Rev. Kuhrt is survived by his wife, Pam Gill-Kuhrt; his two daughters, Sharene Kuhrt-Nelson and Stacey Kuhrt; and a grandson, Jade. Notes of condolence may be sent to Pam Gill-Kuhrt, 5717 112th Street SW, Lakewood, WA 98499. Memories may also be shared at Edwards Memorial:


A celebration of the life of Rev. Dr. Kuhrt will be announced at a later date. Donations in Rev. Kuhrt’s memory can be made to any hospice program or charity of your choice.


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In Memory of . . . Wells E. Behee (1925-2011)

Posted By Janette M. Lallier, Monday, January 30, 2012
The Rev. Wells E. Behee died on December 15, 2011. He was 86 years old. Rev. Behee died as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident on December 13, 2011, which also resulted in the death of his beloved wife of 62 years, Mary (Newhall) Behee.

Rev. Behee was born on the Hurd Farm, in Royalston Township, Niagara County, New York on October 22, 1925 to Elmer Judson Behee and Edna Behee Lofthouse Sullivan. Behee graduated from St. Lawrence University in 1949 and received his Master of Divinity from Canton Theological School in 1951.

He was ordained in 1953 in New Madison, OH. He was called to serve from 1951-1953 by the Universalist Church of Woodstock, OH; from 1953-1956 by the Universalist Church in Eldorado, OH ; and from 1956-1963 by the Universalist Church in New Madison, OH.

He went on to receive his Master of Education from Miami University and then teach high school in Arcanum, OH. He also served as special education coordinator for the Mansfield, OH schools. In addition, he was a Boy Scout master and coached his children in Olympic marathon canoeing. He enjoyed classical music, art, literature, genealogy, and gardening. He and his wife, Mary, were best friends and enjoyed traveling together.

Rev. Behee is survived by five children (and their partners); Kathy Becker and husband Myron of Wendell, MA; Karyl Parks and husband Jeff of New Madison, OH; Kris Rantz of New Madison, OH; Emerson Behee and wife Bonnie of Ithaca, OH; and Karen Fageol and husband Geoff of Decatur, OH. He also leaves several grandchildren; Jeremiah Parks, Derik Ervin, Ayla Ervin, Amanda Behee, Kevin Behee, and Lori Rantz, and five great-grandchildren; Seth and Bryn Orrin-Brown, Brandon Parks, and Erin Michele Ervin, with another great-grandchild expected. He was predeceased by his parents, Edna Sullivan and Elmer Judson Behee; his sisters, Melva Roberts and Fern Jean Lackey; and his grandson, Aaron Dean Rawlings.

Rev. Behee donated his body to Anatomical Gift, Wright State University, therefore, memorial services will be held at an undetermined later date. Donations in his memory may be given to the New Madison Friends of the Library, 142 North Main Street, New Madison, OH 45346. Notes of condolence may be sent to the family care of Karyl Parks, 4221 Hollansburg-Arcanum Road, Greenville, OH 45331.

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In Memory of . . . Donovan E. White (1928-2011)

Posted By Janette M. Lallier, Monday, January 30, 2012
The Rev. Donovan E. White died on December 30, 2011. He was 83 years old.  Rev. White was born in Gloversville, NY, on November 11, 1928 to David C. and Elsie B. (Van Nostrand) White. Rev. White attained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Delaware in 1952 and his Bachelor of Divinity from the University of Rochester, Colgate Rochester Divinity School in 1956. He also studied at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.

He served at the First Unitarian Church in Erie, PA, from 1956-1960, after being ordained there in 1956. He then taught college at Slippery Rock State College in PA, and Lake Erie College in OH. From 1963-1966, after re-enlisting, he served as an air force hospital chaplain at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS. Rev. White returned to parish ministry in 1966, serving at the First Church in Templeton, MA, until 1974. In 1974, he was called to the Universalist Church of the Messiah in Fort Plain, NY, from which he retired in 1982. He then started his own upholstery business, Donovan’s Upholstery, in Mayfield, NY.

Rev. White’s family described him as a kind, gentle, insightful man who had a sharp, powerful mind. He was a great positive thinker and thought-provoker, who, by believing the best in everyone, encouraged others, at times unknowingly, to want to be better people. He was a disciplined man; loving new ideas and never hesitating to challenge himself and others. He was a great conversationalist and an avid reader, walker and swimmer. He enjoyed classical music and baking bread. As a minister, he is described as having been gifted in providing spiritual and emotional counsel to those in need. His weekly services were found to be uplifting, positive, and applicable. "He was a light so bright you couldn’t help but be in awe while in his presence. He was deeply loved and will be forever missed.”

He was a member of the Gloversville VFW.

Rev. White is survived by his daughter, Jennifer Millett and her spouse, Fred of Valatie, NY. He also left seven grandchildren; Donnabea, Meghan, Donovan, Zeb, Myra, Gary, and Sarah; two great-grandsons, Benny and Lewis; a brother, Ernest D. and his wife, Irene of Mayfield, NY; a sister, Medora Venneman of Hollywood, MD; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Rev. White was predeceased by his beloved wife of 60 years, Donna (McWain) White; his son, Samuel D. White; and his brother, Harold W. White.

Family and friends paid their respects to the memory of Rev. Donovan E. White on January 2, 2012, at the Jeffords and Stewart Funeral Home in Broadalbin, NY, followed by a graveside service, which was presided over by the Rev. Bonnie Orth.

Donations in Rev. White’s memory may be made to Mountain Valley Hospice, 108 Steele Avenue, Gloversville, NY 12078. Messages of condolence may be left on the family’s online guestbook at

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