Written by Barb Powell
A trailblazing woman of the early days of the United Church of Christ and one of few women delegates to the 1957 Uniting General Synod, Gladys Minear, died Oct. 23 in Guilford, Conn. She was 105.
“Gladys was in many ways a pioneer spirit of our United Church of Christ,” said the Rev. Davida Foy Crabtree, former Connecticut Conference Minister who met Minear in 1996. “She retained her delightful personality and her conviction about enlightened global mission throughout her life.”
“I cannot help but note that she died one day after the Connecticut Conference voted to become a Global Mission Conference,” said Crabtree. “She would have been very pleased.”
Born in Sigourney, Iowa, into a family of dairy farmers in August 1906, the former Gladys Hoffman graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1927. She began her career teaching English to high school students in Bloomington, Iowa. She served as resident advisor at a Yale University hall for women graduate students and as a staff member of the circulation department of the university’s Sterling Memorial Library.
She married her high school and college sweetheart, Paul, in 1929. In the course of his teaching career, they lived and raised their family in Evanston, Ill.; Newton, Mass.; and New Haven, Conn. The couple lived overseas for extended periods in Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Jerusalem.
Shorter working visits included periods in Turkey, Singapore, India, nine U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
Minear was a long-term member of the American Board of Commissioners for World Mission, predecessor body to the UCC’s Wider Church Ministries, for which she traveled extensively.
An avid reader, she participated in various reading groups, enjoying books in German and French as well as English. Soon after moving to Guilford in 1970, Minear helped launch a noontime program, “Lunch and Learn,” at the local library. She was also a versatile musician, playing piano, harpsichord and recorder, and singing in numerous choirs and choruses. She was an avid gardener and cook, often providing a home-away-from-home for foreign students and visitors.
Minear provided editorial assistance on 50 books written by three generations of family members, and supplied firsthand information to several authors of biographies of persons she had come to know.
She received numerous awards, including an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Iowa Wesleyan and a citation from Connecticut Community Care for “successful aging.”
Minear was married to her husband, Paul, for nearly 80 years when he died in 2007 at age 101.
Minear is survived by three children Larry Minear of Orleans, Mass.; Richard Minear of Amherst Mass.; and Anita Fahrni-Minear of Islikon, Switzerland; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at First Congregational Church on the Green in Guilford, Conn., with a reception to follow. Gifts in Minear’s memory may be made to the Deacons’ Fund at the First Congregational Church and to Connecticut Hospice.
“Her sense of compassion and justice, her devotion to peacemaking and her love of the UCC all stand as models for the rest of us,” said Crabtree. “My heart goes out to her family and friends. We have all lost a dear saint of the Church.”