Spotlight on UUism
Some Famous Universalists, Unitarians, & Unitarian Universalists born this month & Milestones
Alexander Graham Bell (3 MAR 1847 Edinburgh, Scotland – 2 AUG 1922 Baddek, Nova Scotia)
He was a teacher of the deaf and inventor of the telephone who also patented the photophone and designed aircraft. Bell once said, “Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do you will be certain to find something that you have never seen before. Follow it up, explore all around it, and before you know it, you will have something worth thinking about to occupy your mind.”
George Mortimer Pullman (3 MAR 1891, Brockton, NY – 19 OCT 1897 Pullman, OH)
He was an industrialist and developer of the railroad sleeping car. In 1867 he founded the Pullman Palace Car Company and in 1880 he built the town of Pullman, Ohio as a model community for workers of his sleeping-car company. He also built the Universalist church in Albion, New York, in honor of his mother.
Luther Burbank (7 MAR 1849 Lancaster, MA – 11 APR 1926 Santa Rosa, CA)
He was a scientist, inventor, and horticulturist. In 1871 he developed the Russet Burbank “Idaho” potato, which was introduced in Ireland to help combat the blight epidemic. During his life he developed more than 800 strains and varieties of plants, including 10 varieties of berries, 113 varieties of plums and prunes, 50 varieties of lilies, and the Freestone peach. His last words were “I feel better now.”
Vard R. Johnson (11 MAR 1939 Kansas City, MO – )
He is a lawyer, politician, and teacher. He served as Director and Staff Attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Omaha-Council Bluffs from 1969-82, served ten years in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature 8th District, and currently teaches Legislation.
Joseph Priestley (13 MAR 1732 Fieldhead, Birstal Parish, Yorkshire, UK – 6 FEB 1804 Northumberland, PA)
He was a Unitarian clergyman, political theorist, and physical scientist whose work contributed to advances in liberal political and religious thought and in experimental science. He is best remembered as one of the discoverers of the element oxygen.
William L. Langer (16 MAR 1896 South Boston, MA – 26 DEC 1977 Boston, MA)
He was an historian and teacher. He wrote “An Encyclopedia of World History” and articles for Foreign Affairs, served as Chief of the Research and Analysis Branch of the OSS, was awarded the Medal for Merit in 1945, and was President of the American Historical Association. He was one of the first to urge that historians make fuller use of related disciplines.
Neville Chamberlain (18 MAR 1869 Edgbaston, England – 19 NOV 1940 Heckfield, UK)
He was a politician. In 1915, he was elected Lord Mayor of Birmingham and served as British Prime Minister 1937-1940.
Sarah Billings Doolittle (19 MAR 1840 Foxborough, MA – 18 JUN 1927 Mansfield, MA)
She was a teacher, librarian, philanthropist, social activist, and musician. Born to Allen Chilson and Orra Hodges Doolittle, Sarah taught and was Superintendent of Sunday School at the Foxborough Universalist Church, served as Librarian at Boyden Library, and was member of the Foxboro Womans Club, the Foxborough Branch of Good Templars, and the local branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She was also a member of a female string quartet and an accomplished artist. Years before her death, Sarah donated her home to the Massachusetts Universalist Convention to help serve the housing needs of their elderly.
Dorothy Tilden Spoerl (20 MAR 1906 Brooklyn, NY – 21 DEC 1999 Unity, NH)
She was ordained as a Universalist minister in 1929, was in fellowship with both the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association, and wrote and edited religious education programs, booklets, and pamphlets for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). She became the UUA’s Adult Program Editor in 1966.
Thomas Hiram Andrews (22 MAR 1953 Easton, MA -)
He was a ME Representative 1983-85, ME Senator 1985-91, and U.S. Representative from Maine 1st District 1991-95. He served as executive director of the Maine Association of Handicapped Persons and became the CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) in 2016.
Fannie Merritt Farmer (23 MAR 1857 Boston, MA – 15 JAN 1915 Boston, MA)
She graduated from the the Boston Cooking School in 1889 and served as director of the school from 1891 until 1902. She wrote “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book” in 1896, opened Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery, and is best known for standardizing measurements which make recipe results more dependable.
Bela Bartok (25 MAR 1881 S_nnicolau Mare, Romania – 26 AUG 1845 NYC, NY)
He was a composer and ethnomusicologist and dreamed of the “brotherhood of people, brotherhood in spite of all wars and conflicts.”
The Rev. Donald G. Lothrop, a radical Universalist minister who rose to prominence in the 1930s as the leader of one of Boston’s largest churches and then became a figure in the Red Scare of the 1950s when he refused to distance himself from Communists, died February 20, 2002, at the age of 96. He was ordained on March 8, 1932, by the First Universalist Society of Wakefield, Massachusetts. Rev. Lothrop served from 1936 until 1975 as pastor of the Community Church of Boston. Instead of a traditional sermon, Rev. Lothrop would invite an eclectic assortment of provocative speakers, including W.E.B. DuBois and Rabbi Stephen Wise, to lecture to his nonsectarian congregation on Sunday mornings at Symphony Hall. “The pulpit is not to be agreed with,” he said. “The point is to expose members to competent people. We try to stimulate, instruct.”
Originally written for and published in “Spotlight on UUism” section of Bird’s Eye View, newsletter of Foxborough Universalist Church, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUFoxborough).