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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.