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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Rev. Suzanne Wasilczuk

The Rev. Suzanne Wasilczuk is a 2007 graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. Her previous career was as a registered nurse, working in Milwaukee, Sitka, AK, and Vancouver, BC. In her journeys south and east she has also lived in Missoula, MT where she volunteered at the local food shelf and as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate for children who were in the judicial system because of abuse or neglect.

Along with her MDiv from Meadville she has earned a Masters in Philosophy/Emphasis on Teaching Ethics from the University of Montana, and a BA in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In her volunteer career she has been copy editor for a feminist newsletter and on the advisory board of a gay newsletter; a docent at a museum featuring Alaska native artifacts and at a maritime museum; spun records, tapes and CDs at a public radio station; been an actress and stage manager at a community theater; and danced in a "hula art action."

Suzanne is married to Tim Stratton, a professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a registered pharmacist. She has one son and three grandchildren who live in Milwaukee.

Tim and Suzanne enjoy their dog & cat, canoeing, walking, cross-country skiing, wildlife viewing, and contra dancing together. Suzanne enjoys reading, especially mysteries and novels; gardening, baking, singing, feeding the neighborhood birds, chipmunks and squirrels; and keeping in touch with friends, some of whom she's known since 3rd grade.


New life for Lincoln School?

Cynthia Manning doesn’t like to look at the defunct Lincoln School near her Rattlesnake Valley neighborhood. A half-dozen years ago, she and others fought to preserve it from demolition or residential development in hopes that one of Missoula’s “most endangered” historic places could become a civic hub again. Manning’s group put down several deposits but failed to meet the developer’s asking price, leaving them out the cash and with a vacant spot on Lolo Street. “It was a tough thing to swallow,” Manning says now. “I don’t drive by it because it makes me sad.”

Nevertheless, she agrees to meet there last Sunday because a new future for Lincoln School is in the works. The Missoula Federal Credit Union assumed ownership of the building last year in lieu of foreclosure, then solicited proposals from groups looking to purchase it. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Missoula signed a buy-sell agreement earlier this month. 

The recent turn of events has Manning and other longtime advocates cautiously optimistic about the site’s future. Suzanne Julin, president of Preserve Historic Missoula, says the building anchors the Rattlesnake to its past as “an emblem of the valley’s transition from a ranching area to an urban area.” She and Manning are thrilled the Unitarian group says it plans to keep the school’s character as a National Register of Historic Places site while offering the space for use by other community groups as well.

The Unitarian fellowship has met in a house on McLeod Avenue since forming in 1962 and is looking to expand. “Being a part of the Rattlesnake is exciting for us,” says board chair Rachel Nordhagen. “We really want to be part of our community.”

The sticking point, though, will be parking. The church must install 18 spots to obtain a conditional use permit from the city, credit union CEO Jack Lawson says. But since the last effort to revive it, the school’s former campus has become a triangular patchwork of family homes and undeveloped lots, only some of which are owned by the credit union. Parking isn’t allowed on adjacent streets.

Neighbor Phil Petrilli is concerned about shoehorning a parking lot into his tiny subdivision. Homeowners are also miffed they weren’t included in the credit union’s decision making, despite a formal entreaty. “They chose to work in the shadows and not let us property owners in on what was transpiring,” Petrilli writes in an email.

Lawson says his organization has been trying to make the best of a difficult situation. The city permit application will take a couple months to submit and a couple more for city council to review. In the meantime, the Unitarians want to work with neighbors to find a parking solution, Nordhagen says. They’re starting tonight at 6:30 p.m. with an ice cream social on the front lawn.

Stones cast at church's plan for Lincoln School
By Derek Brouwer

Selfies and superheroes were welcome at a recent Unitarian Universalist Fellowship service in the church's small University District house, where two dozen people gathered in the living room for an "intergenerational" service led by Sara Berndt and her young daughter, Jillian.

After pointing out the pro-selfie, pro-technology ground rules, Berndt cracked open the pages from a comic book called Ms. Marvel. The book chronicles the origin of Marvel's first Muslim heroine, a Pakistani-American teen named Kamala Khan. The hero, who is grappling with her cultural identity, sneaks out to a party, where a few peers make fun of her and one spikes her drink. Kahn's first test, after discovering her shapeshifting superpower, is to rescue one of the teasing partygoers from drowning. Berndt uses Ms. Marvel to explain a few of the church's principles, from finding one's inherent worth to extending compassion to others, regardless of their actions.

After the service, some members say they're trying to keep the latter in mind as they navigate an increasingly contentious effort to relocate the congregation to a dilapidated schoolhouse in the Rattlesnake.

"We're trying to just view them as people with their opinions, and we're not trying to be negative toward them at all," says Rachel Nordhagen, the church's chairwoman.

Nordhagen is referring to the homeowners who live next to Lincoln School on Lolo Street. The residents are vigorously opposing the church's proposal to buy and renovate the vacant building, which is considered one of the city's most endangered historic sites. In letters to the Missoula City Council, the neighbors use words like "abominable" and "egregious" to describe the plan and accuse the Unitarians and the Missoula Federal Credit Union of being "evasive and not necessarily forthright" in their planning documents. "Don't be fooled by their subterfuge," Phil and Patricia Petrilli wrote.

The attorney representing several of the neighbors, David B. Cotner of Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind, even quoted the church's own principles in a letter to its leadership, arguing the project would "ignore the worth and dignity of my clients and will ignore justice, equity and compassion in its relationships with my clients." On Nov. 30, the neighbors filed a lawsuit in Missoula County District Court against the church and the credit union to block the sale.

The suit marks yet another bitter turn in an ongoing effort among Rattlesnake residents to revitalize Lincoln School as a community space, an effort that has been complicated by a half-finished residential development. Neighbors point to protective covenants that limit the land's use to residential purposes, while the credit union, saddled with foreclosed properties, seeks to sell the school while honoring the civic function envisioned by its advocates.

It's an awkward fit. The church's plan calls for a parking lot that's separated from the school by two residences. And because the development was created using a streamlined city process that bypassed subdivision review, the homes are already tightly packed onto a small triangular plat. City council is scheduled to discuss the proposal Dec. 7; no sale can be completed without its approval.

In light of the opposition and lawsuit, church leaders recently wrote an op-ed for the Missoulian in which they candidly questioned whether or not to move forward. They asked community members invested in Lincoln School to speak up.

"We're just trying to do what's right for the community, and we hope others feel the same way," Nordhagen says.

[The Fellowship finally withdrew its offer.]


BEGINNINGS  The Jan/Feb 2001 UU World magazine notes about 1/3 of UU groups are fellowships under 50 members, which has described us locally for our entire 42 year history.  This is partially a result of a national push in 1950’s-60’s to start up groups all over the US, often in low population areas.  Our group was chartered 2/1/1962.  The now famous (“All I Know I Learned in Kindergarten” & many other books) UU Minister Robert Fulghum was the NW US UU District Executive who came to Missoula in 1965 to welcome us into our new (102 McLeod) house.  Our local group was started by a group of mostly professional & university families, many with children.  These founding members formed the solid base for the group in our early years and so the programs and RE flourished as they raised their families.

LOCAL MEMBERSHIP   In our current membership (fluidly up/down few to several of 29, there are the following founding or very long-term members.  Arnold Finklin, Ray Gold, Leo Lott, Richard & Doris Boehmler, and Robert & Eleanor Weidman.  Only Arnold has attended regularly for many recent years (& was treasurer through the 1990’s)  Both Leo and Ray took strong leadership roles, in the 1980’s and earlier, mostly.  Most of the earlier members have moved on, retired elsewhere, or died over the years.  There are a few others who are longer than 10-year members, mostly not attending of late.  several more are a bit over 5-year members.  Quite a few are 0 - 5 year members.  The well-under-10, even under 5 year members make up almost all the regular attendees, board officers, and board members.

Weekly attendance 2003-04 averaged between 15 to low 20’s, including visitors and guests, down much from several years ago.  1960’s had 50-60 active members, the last ten years 20-25, often up to half not active.  The national UUA is 80% non-UU born & local 5’s are as/or even higher.  We almost all come from somewhere or no church tradition.  Knowledge of or involvement in the broader UU movement is fairly low among our “active” members, with a few notable exceptions, as may be common in many UU groups.  If one stays around our UUF for very long, it is possible to watch many people come and go.

FINANCIAL BUDGET  Our budget is under $1500.  Luckily, we have nearly $20,000 in checking and savings, but also much deferred maintenance: carpet, inside painting, very old kitchen, new roof needed.  We have quite a few single income members, many who are low-income, in school, underemployed &/or poorly paid (too common in Missoula), in transition or retired.  If only a few pledgers were to to move, etc. bsmt rent would be fully needed for the minimal budget we work with now.  Several fewer, it’s over.

OUR BUILDING   UUFM bought the current Fellowship house at 102 McLeod in 1965 and it was paid off by the mid 1980’s.  The house formerly belonged to the famous English Scholar & Literary Critic, then a UM prof, Leslie Fiedler, who in 1965 moved on to bigger acclaim at SUNY-Buffalo (NY).

UU member’s labor did much of the remodelling over the years.  For example, early on, the basement was mostly finished and used for Religions Education for the founder’s children.  The second floor was long an apt (but with only a half-bath & no kitchen).  The apt was long the home to a modest income older woman, then used by the UUF’s third minister, Rev. Jesse Cavalier, 1985-1989, and more recently rented to UM students — all who used the main floor kitchen and bathtub.  Then, a few years ago, the basement was converted into an outside-entry, full 2 bedroom apt. & the children’s RE was moved to 2 of the 3 upstairs bedrooms.  the office took over the 3rd second floor room.  The main floor early on had the living room & dining room wall/arch removed to increase space.  Then the current  post/beam replaced a long wall that used to create a hallway that ran along the two bedrooms and bath.

Later the front bedroom wall was removed (under stairs, where 3 or 4 bulletin boards are now).  A few years ago, the front facing closets (bedroom and entry) were removed, opening up the entire old bedroom area for a full walk around the entire stairwell.  The remaining main floor bedroom became the library.  (The library had had its closet’s rear wall removed years earlier to provide direct entry to the bathroom thru the current library instead of direct from the Fellowship meeting space).  The handicap ramp was added several years ago.  Summer 2001 repair and exterior painting were done, as well as a new toilet for bsmt & a hot water (faucet) heating system for the house.  Regular room heating is by old-style radiator heat.

Updating the usefulness of our house has rested mostly on the back of approx $5,000 & $10,000 inheritances from two long-time member’s estates.  Our house is now in the most completely useful state ever.  The up & downstairs rent subsidized the operating budget for years, and only recently has some of it been set aside for ongoing house maintenance, repairs & capital improvements, but it is nowhere nearly enough for any major improvements, remodelling or expansion.  Carpet replacement is badly needed.  Inside painting is needed.  A new roof will soon be needed.  In addition, if we grow & need to move, any new building/site in Missoula would be extremely expensive.  The mid-1990’s house/lot appraisal was low at $200,000’s.  Estimated current value of the house is in low-to-mid $300,000 range.  

Our University area location is “prime.”  We can comfortably seat 35-40, and max out between 50-60.  We could increase seating about 25 by enclosing our huge front porch.  We could also build a nice meeting space on the back of the house as the Billings UUF did.  Some want us to grow & suggest that the house we have has strangled that possibility for too long.  But there are fellowships that flourish in much smaller space than ours & don’t “grow out” of their homes until they are beyond “bursting at the seams.”

THREE MINISTERS: 1973-1989  Over the years from about 1973 to 1980 the UUF had a (now retired) part-time minister, Rev. Tom Best.  He was a former Episcopal priest turned UU minister who lived in Kalispell, worked in a social service/court type job, and served the Glacier (Kalispell/Whitefish) UUF part time, as well as coming to our Missoula UUF about once a month for 7 years.  The other programs were a combination of members, outside speakers, and long term use of VCR tapes playing the sermon from the All Souls UU Church in Tulsa, OK (which was subscribed to, much as we more recently used the Rev. Richard Gilbert’s sermons until his recent retirement as the minister of the Rochester NY UU church.

From Fall 1982 - Spring 1985, our Missoula UUF again had a part-time minister, this time a UUA Boston Extension Ministry sponsored “circuit rider” minister, the Rev. Mary Scriver.  She was a former Browning HS English teacher who had earlier been married to the recently deceased and well-known Montana taxidermist, artist, sculptor, Bob Scriver of Browning, MT.  (His works are now in the collection of the Montana Historical Society in Helena which shows them in a major exhibit.  Mary, also a writer, is now retired in the Valier, MT, area.  She spoke to the Montana area UU Association (MAUUA) on the 100+ history of UU’s in Mt. at the MAUUA’s Fall (YMCA) Camp Child gathering in the later 1990’s at Elliston, just west of McDonald Pass.  Mary served four UUF’s:  Great Falls (very small and long gone), Helena (where she also lived), Missoula (where she often slept in her old pickup camper) and Bozeman.

After she left, a semi-retired UU minister, Rev. Jesse Cavalier, served from Fall 1985- spring 1989 as well as living in the second floor apartment.  Jesse then retired to Pittsburg, PA, in 1989 and died there in the Spring of 2004.  Since then we have only had a few visiting ministers from SLC, Spokane and other areas, at most 1 -2 times a year.  The long time UU Mountain Desert District Executive, Rev. Russell Lockwood (who our yearly summer UU Leadership School is named after) used to visit at least once a year also.  So did his successor DE’s, all non-ordained; Rev. Ken Wheeler; interim DE Mary Andrus Overby, & current MDD DE, Ellen Germann-Malosh.  Even with these three part-time ministers we had for 14 years, as with most UUF’s we have been basically a lay led UU Fellowship for our 42+ year history.

SOCIAL JUSTICE & COMMUNITY VISIBILITY   I was then the new member of our local UUF who suggested that we locally, as well as the other four UUF’s in Montana, go thru the BGLT “Welcoming” process, and all 5 UUF’s did so over a two year period.  Montana was announced at the 1999 (Salt Lake City, UT) UUA General Assembly as the first and only entire state in UUdom that was totally UU “Welcoming” of our BGLT (Bisexual/Gay/Lesbian/Transgender) family and friends.

Our Sunday church ad in the paper in the past has said, “A supportive community dedicated to social justice.”)  On that “social justice” side, we have a fairly low profile UU presence in our community due to our very small numbers, half not active.  Recent UU examples having our name in WEEL, Gay/Lesbian groups, and other ads as a contributor/sponsor, as well as use of our house & shared office by/with local social justice and other civic groups for meetings.  Members also work at Food Bank, serving meals at Head Start “Feed & Read.”  I am speaking collectively, of course.  

Individually, we have many individual local UU’s because of their personal strong social justice orientation, who belong to, speak up at, work in peace justice and human rights work, many who publicly self-identify as UU members.  Our UUFM is the ONLY church denomination marching in the last 7 - 8 statewide Gay Pride parades each June with our GA church banners prominently displayed.  attempts have been made toward other collective UU involvements, but lack of a larger membership & lack of energy seem to dampen involvement despite the obvious good intentions and strong social justice views if many if not most UU’s.

MORE RECENTLY:  I joined this Missoula UU Fellowship 1978-82, overlapping the 16th to 21st year of existence of this local UUF, such that I knew most of the original and long-term founders/members as well as Rev. Tom Best and Rev Mary Scriver (who is still a too seldom seen friend.)  The UUF then had much the same issues then as when I returned to this UUF in the spring of 1995 and now.  It struggled then and now with too few doing too much, as well as members who had strong opinions and did not always listen to each other well enough.

Programs and content — then as now — were reasonably good.  RE was almost non-existent for quite a few years, was much stronger for awhile in the later 1990’s due to the fine work of member Suzanne Wasilczuk (now in her second year at Meadville/Lombard UU Seminary in Chicago), and now Child RE has few children, despite recent hard work by a few other members.

During the 1980’s, even with the 3rd minister, the local UUF began to decline as the founders and many long-time members retired elsewhere, moved to be with family, died, or just got “tired” and stopped coming.  By the early 90’s only a few long-time UU’s were still around, and at the Yearly Spring Meeting in early mid 90’s, abandoning the UUF, turning the house back to UUA Boston ownership for disposal seemed possible and was discussed.

A lifelong UU, Mac Palmer, just retired from a National Park Service career, and his adult-lifelong-UU wife, Margery Fels Palmer, stepped in as Co-Chairs, and with a few other new other UU’s newly arrived from elsewhere, as well as a few energetic new UU’s, things picked up for awhile in time for our 35th anniversary in 1997 and for a few more years.

Since then, we have reached a low spot visible by the further decline in membership & participation in the past few years.  As with many smaller groups, it sometimes seems as fast we get new “members,” other have already seemingly departed.  Most of the long time members have long ago stopped attending, but continue to modestly support us.  Also, as with many small groups, a few who have been the officers and primary volunteers for too long sometimes grow a bit weary and need newer members to step in and assume some of the leadership roles.  This has not gone well in the past few years, and much turmoil resulted.  2003-04 was likely the ”lowest” year for our Fellowship in over 10 years.  The current board is trying to figure out the best course of action to deal with the decline and many conflicts at hand.

“COMMUNITY”   My advice personally, and after extensive work with this UUF’s history is as follows.  if one were going to look at our group from a small versus large church viewpoint, it might be said that we have been trying to “do it all” in programs, adult & child RE, fix-up & use of house, etc.  These are all good goals, but the “do it all” aspect is more large-church appropriate than for our very small size.  The literature about small churches suggests that personal relationships, i.e. the “community” we form and sustain over long periods of time, not only determines the health of the group, but also whether it is even likely to survive at all.  Only if we can sustain and build our “community” of trust, cooperation and friendship will the Fellowship ever likely grow or even continue. Iif we can both look in the mirror a bit more, also get to know each other better & each assume a greater share of the work to make it all happen, it is possible we an grow in “community,” if less easily in numbers.

The 600 member nearby UCC church offers everything (except also a bit too much “God Talk” for many UU’s) that our UUF does, so we must figure out what our smaller Fellowship can offer that is unique, and work on offering it to each other first — such that others will then see it when they visit/attend.

It seems when Walt Kelly’s Pogo long ago said something like “we have met the enemy and he is us,” he was obviously talking about our UUF among other targets for his insight. Iit seems apparent that we are both our own worst “problem to sort out, as well as the only “solution” to any of our problems of course.  A “vital community” would likely make this UUF “grow” in whatever direction WE want/need.

INFLUENCES ON UUFM’S SMALL SIZE   In a county of 95,000 people, we are located only several blocks from U of M (with about 12,000 students, it is 5th in Rhodes Scholars among public universities and only drops to 15th if all the prestigious private universities are added fro the entire Twentieth Century.  Many students come around, few stay awhile, then move on.  Frequently new & /or local residents visit and some even stay awhile, a few even a year to several, but very few stay for long.  Many are church shopping, of course.  UU visitors sometimes go on to find church homes among Quakers, Unity, Buddhist, or Jewish groups as they leave or return to more mainline church groups.  Or they return to being unchurched, secular, etc.

It might be useful to ponder why we have not had any sustained growth (rather we have had a loss) in our 42 years.  It appears likely that among those who find a permanent or at least long term local church, it is commonly the University Congregational Church (UCC-United Church of Christ.  (Historical note: the “Unitarian” part of UU is, in essence of course, a split-off from the “Congregational” part of the UCC church, which took place from the late 1700’s to the official formation of the Unitarian Church around 1820’s.)  The UCC Church is a few blocks away and one block from campus.  Locally, it is the educated, progressive, liberal, social justice church, full of the same type of leaders and members that formed this UUF in 1962.  They are big-time strong competition, period!

Nationally and demographically, UCC and UUA are more similar than most all other churches and this is as or even more true locally.  The nearby UCC has 600 members/friends, a recent huge modern building expansion, numerous programs.  One full and one part-time ordained minister, and several other full/part-time staff, over 30 wonderful music groups and sub groups as well as a longstanding and very strong social justice presence (and history of such) in Missoula going back as least as far as Civil Rights and local Anti-War demonstrations during Vietnam.  It is also a very strong BGLT “Open and Affirming” (what UU’s call “Welcoming”) Congregation that has spawned 4-5 more in this most conservative state.

A personal note to give “context” to my above “opinion.”  I was a member in this UUF from 1978-83, spent 12 years (1983-95) at the nearby UU church and again 1995-present returned to this UUF (the first three years as Sect., then three as VP, then one and a half as President, then 8-2002 to 5-31-2004 as the first paid (20 hours a month at $10 hr) part-time Church Administrator until my resignation 5-31-2004.  for the entire 27 years from 1978-present, I have watched people pass through our UUF, stay awhile, then move on to the UCC Church and stay there.  Seeing such from both directions and personally knowing many of those UUs who moved to UCC, it is my opinion many people at the UCC are really much more UU than UCC in their world view.  The current UCC pastor says his church is 80-90% Non-UCC raised & says UCC is often called “Unitarians Considering Christ.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Reader's Retrospective: John Garrity
Julie Gunter  |  Nov. 1, 2015

John Garrity first encountered the National Catholic Reporter as a Norbertine novice at St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere, Wis. Taking the name "Frater Patrick," he was one of roughly 20 men who entered the ancient religious order in 1965.
The oldest of five children raised in Great Falls and Helena, Mont., Garrity would be shaped, in part, by the interests and choices of his parents, both American-Irish Catholics. His mother was a nurse with an interest in psychiatry, and his father spent several years as a Norbertine brother before joining the Army during World War II. Other important figures in childhood included a favorite teacher, Providence Sr. Grace Sullivan, and Spokane, Wash., Bishop Bernard Topel.

After leaving the monastery in 1966, Garrity enlisted in the Army for the medical field. He was sent to basic training at Fort Polk in Louisiana, where, according to Garrity, "all went to church on Sunday by orders, and the NCR was in a big pile at the doors of the theater where Catholic Mass was held ... some of the only reading material allowed along with the Bible."

Sent to a MASH-like medical company in the 25th Infantry Division northwest of Saigon, Vietnam, Garrity served as a psychiatric specialist whose duties also involved driving ambulances, and running litters of injured and dead to and from medevac helicopters. Working under frequent rocket and mortar attacks among heavy American casualties, Garrity recalled occasions when severely wounded soldiers in triage were "piled on dead or dying soldiers ... [and left unattended] in the hope that others could be saved."

Moving in 1969 to Missoula, Mont. (where he still lives with his wife, Jean Thorstenson), Garrity earned degrees in sociology and Christian ethics from the University of Montana and the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif., respectively. A self-described "American-Irish Catholic [albeit non-institutional] Unitarian Universalist non-theistic humanist" who regularly attends a United Church of Christ church and continues to look to NCR as his "moral compass," Garrity maintains that he did not leave the Catholic church, but, instead, found it necessary to move beyond an institution "that couldn't keep up with the moral complexity of my world."
This story appeared in the Dec 19, 2014-Jan 1, 2015 print issue under the headline: NCR a reader's retrospective: John Garrity .

Marchers in Missoula want peace
Oct 28, 2001  (Edited)
Associated Press

MISSOULA (AP) – Missoulas famous peace sign may be gone from Waterworks Hill, but a band of advocates demonstrated this weekend that the spirit that kept it there for 18 years is alive and well.
About 100 people marched through downtown Missoula Saturday calling for peaceful alternatives to the military strikes against terrorist positions in Afghanistan.

The terrorists Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., must not go unanswered, but the military attacks are not an acceptable response, speakers said.
 . . .
An Interfaith Peace Service later at University Congregational Church stressed the value of peace over war, justice over arbitrariness, and love over hate, according to organizers.
Several speakers condemned expressions of patriotism that mindlessly endorse war as vengeance for the Sept. 11 attacks.

- - - 

John Garrity, president of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Missoula and a Vietnam veteran, was one of several who said U.S. foreign policy has helped create a climate for terrorism by denying human rights and rejecting international efforts toward peace, disarmament and environmental protection.


I was raised Irish-American Catholic in Great Falls and Helena, Montana, including 1965-66 in Catholic Monastery in WI after high school.  Then returning from Army 25th Infantry Div MASH Medical Unit in 1969, I was very active in the Methodist Student Movement Wesley Foundation at the U of MT during 1969-72, where I got my BA in sociology and psychology.  I joined my Great Falls hometown UCC church while a graduate student in Sociology & Counseling at UM in 1973, then went to the Methodist/UCC affiliated seminary in Berkely CA (across the street from the UU Starr King Seminary from 1973-75.  I have an academic (not ordination) MA with a major in "Religion, Society, and Ethics", and a thesis in Social Psychology and Ethics.

I did not seek ordination (nor its MDiv degree) because I was too recently aware of the UU movement for any possible ministry then, although I have considered myself UU since I read George Marshall's Challenge of a Liberal Faith in 1972. I was also much too naturalistic & scientific a religious "Humanist" (probably the dominant self label in UUA then by fr, and lesser so, but still, today) to ever be a successful minister in the UCC.

When I graduated and returned home to Montana, I attended the Great Falls UUF for over a year while job hunting.  When I was hired by Social Security in Fergus Falls, MN, I joined the (100 year old Winnipeg, Manitoba Icelandic UU started) UUF in Underwood MN for over a year before I transferred to my job in Missoula & local UUF in 1978.  I retired from Social Security 7/2000.


RICHARD BOEHMLER was a professor of speech disorders at the U of Montana with a specialty in stuttering.  Retiring with emeritus status, he and his wife moved to Port Orange, Florida, where they passed away.


Margaret Boehmler, 73, of Port Orange, passed away March 27, 2012. A Memorial Service will be held 11 am, Saturday, March 31 , 2012 at Lohman Funeral Home Port Orange. Margaret was born in Brooklyn, NY. She and her husband Richard moved to the Daytona area in 1986 from New Jersey. She worked as a medical transcriptionist. Margaret enjoyed crafts, painting and Disney. Her greatest passion was her family. She was predeceased by her husband. She is survived by her son Richard (Laura) . She will be sadly missed by her brother Thomas Beers (Corrine) and her two nephews. She also leaves behind two step daughters Judy, Pam and Lori; eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.


MISSOULA – Arnold I. Finklin passed peacefully on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, at age 87. He was predeceased by his beloved parents, Anna and Joseph Finkelstein, and his dear sister, Harriet Hacker. He is survived by his beloved nephew and niece, Bill and Gloria Hacker.

Arnold will be missed by his friends, dear neighbors and associates at the U.S. Forest Service Fire Lab where he worked for 25 years, as well as by those he knew in Fellowship at the Unitarian Universalist and Har Shalom congregations. For years he volunteered at KUFM, sharing his extensive music collection and love of folk music over the airwaves on the “Folk Show.” Those who shared in the pleasure of his music will miss him.

Born Feb. 5, 1926, in Patterson, N.J., he graduated with a B.A. in meteorology from NYU in 1948, receiving his master’s degree from Colorado State University’s Atmospheric Science Department. He worked as a research meteorologist from 1949 until retirement, authoring and co-authoring many research papers. Even after officially retiring, Arnold maintained connections with fellow co-workers and researchers.

For decades up until his death, he monitored a weather station in his yard, part of a unique citizen network sending data to the National Weather Service to monitor climate change. He received many awards for his dedicated service including the Thomas Jefferson Award and the John Campanius Holm Award, two of the more prestigious awards from the National Weather Service for unusual and outstanding citizen achievements in the field of meteorological observations.

Arnold was an avid skier and hiker, and only health limitations in his late 70s kept him from navigating the slopes and mountains. He enjoyed nature photography as well as loving all types of music, particularly classical and folk. Arnold himself played the banjo and guitar in earlier years. On occasion, Arnold would demonstrate his yodeling skills. Arnold, you will be missed.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, Sept. 29, at 11:30 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 102 McLeod, Missoula. Graveside services will be held Monday, Sept. 30, 11 a.m. at Sunset Memorial Gardens, 7405 Mullan Road, Missoula.

In lieu of flowers the family would welcome donations to Five Valleys Land Trust, Montana Public Radio, Montana Wilderness Association, or the American Cancer Society, per Arnold’s interests.


Native Missoulian and retired professor Robert McMaster Weidman died on December 29, 2012 at age 89. Born March 20, 1923 to Robert H. Weidman and Ruth McMaster Weidman, he attended Missoula County Schools until his father was transferred with the Forest Service to Placerville, California in 1938. Bob spent his formative years hiking, skiing, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors--all lifelong pursuits. As a teenager, he also became an Eagle Scout. 

Bob graduated from California Institute of Technology with a degree in Geology in 1944 and worked for two and a half years in seismic oil exploration. He then returned to graduate school and earned his Masters Degree at Indiana University, taught for a year at Fresno State College in 1949, and afterwards completed his Ph.D. at the University of California in Berkeley. While at Berkeley, Bob met Eleanor Ruth Young. They were married on December 28, 1951 and returned to his boyhood home of Missoula in 1953 where Bob began his career as professor of geology at the University of Montana. 

Dr. Weidman was respected for his love of teaching by countless students who passed through his department during his thirty-eight years in that position. His tenure at the U of M included many years as the chairman of the undergraduate advising committee. He also spent many enjoyable Montana summers teaching field geology, first at the Indiana University Geologic Field Station in the Tobacco Root Mountains, and then at the University of Montana Geologic Field Station in Dillon, which he co-founded. 

In Missoula, Bob and Eleanor raised their four daughters to enjoy family outdoor recreation, travel, and the fine arts. Bob spent ten years on the volunteer Ski Patrol at Marshall Ski Area where Eleanor and the girls joined him for many weekends of skiing. The family also enjoyed backpacking, canoeing, and hiking trips throughout the American west. They regularly attended Missoula Civic Symphony concerts, and Bob and Eleanor were members of a small group that co-founded the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Missoula. 

After retirement, in addition to outdoor recreation, Bob and Eleanor enjoyed travel abroad both independently and with the Missoula Friendship Force. They participated in eleven outgoing Friendship Force exchanges and Bob was the Exchange Director for the 1999 trip to Brazil. Until his health worsened due to Alzheimer's disease, he greatly enjoyed his weekly fellowship and debate with the men at the Missoula Senior Forum. 

Bob will be missed by his daughters and their husbands including Carolyn Weidman-Smith and Ron Smith of San Jose, California; Nancy Weidman and Paul Asper of Littleton, Colorado; Lois and Dean Sirucek of Somers, Montana; and Vicki and Mike Belcher of Belton, Texas. He is also survived by a brother, John C. Weidman of South Lake Tahoe, Calif. and two grandsons and three granddaughters.