FOOTE II: THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE 1911-1999
College 25th Anniversary Report
ADDRESS: 764 Goodrich Ave., St. Paul, Minn.
OFFICE ADDRESS: Unity Church, 73 Holly Ave.,
St. Paul, Minn.
BORN: Jan. 18, Hi, Ann Arbor, Mich. PARENTS:
Henry Wilder Foote, '97, Eleanor Tyson Cope.
PREPARED AT: Belmont Hill School, Belmont,
YEARS IN COLLEGE: 1929 - 1933. DEGREES:
A.B., 1933; B.D. (Meadville Theological
School), 1936; D.D. (ibid.), 1956.
MARRIED: Rebecca Carroll Clark, Aug. 6,
1933, Southwest Harbor, Maine. CHILDREN:
Frances Eliot, Nov. 17, 1937; Nathan Clark,
March 2, 1940; Caleb, Nov. 3, 1943.
HARVARD BROTHERS: Wilder Foote, '27; Caleb
OCCUPATION: Unitarian minister; minister
of Unity Church, since 1945.
OFFICES HELD: Member, Governor's Advisory
Council on Mental Health, 1948-53; president,
St. Paul Council of Human Relations, 1949-50;
vice-president, Minnesota Association for
Mental Health, 1953-56, Minnesota Welfare
Conference, since 1957; member board of
directors, American Unitarian Association,
1954-57; co-chairman, Unitarian Universalist
Hymnbook Commission, since 1956; president,
Minnesota Council of Liberal Churches, since
MEMBER OF: Informal Club.
PUBLICATIONS: Taking Down the Defenses,
Beacon Press, 1954; also various magazine
WHEN I decided, midway in my senior year, to enter
our Unitarian Theological School in Chicago, I was
not at all sure that the ministry would prove "my
dish." More than one college-mate took me aside
to assure me that with my stammer it was bound to
be a mistake; and I guess only cussedness kept me
from agreeing. During the summer I had other things
(I mean another person) to think about: Becca and
I were married August 6, 1933.
Foote at Harvard College.
at Meadville, my inner doubts vanished. With a clear
goal before me, I at last found studies that captured
my total interest. We had many wonderful experiences
during the next three years. To mention one, my student
charge in Shelbyville, Illinois, whither we drove
each Friday for a long weekend. The lay leader of
this tiny parish was Winifred Douthit, an extraordinary
and unforgettable character, a hunchback scarcely
three feet tall and the best critic of sermons I've
ever had the good fortune to meet. My Sunday afternoon
course in Homiletics was worth any three at the school.
Graduating in March, 1936, Becca and I set sail
for Europe, well loaded with letters of introduction
to Unitarian leaders in Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia,
Holland, England and Ireland. Traveling by car,
we had five jam-packed exciting months.
100% with Horace Greeley's advice, on our return to
the States in September, we headed for the West Coast.
The assignment, to resuscitate two moribund churches.
Sacramento, after a doleful history of misunderstanding,
had ceased operation three years earlier. Of its supposed
membership of ninety-eight, I could find only a handful
still interestedand they were pessimistic of
the possibility of reopening. Stockton, forty-five
miles to the south, was in bad shape also, its membership
dwindled to thirty-three. The discouragements and
heartbreaks of those depression years in California
have long since slipped into the background of my
mind. Only the resiliency of youth saw us through.
We stayed with this dual assignment nine years, the
last five of them looking steadily brighter (in spite
of wartime worries and tensions). When feelers came
from one of the strongest of our middle-western churches,
I found myself loth to leave. But I knew the two churches
had grown to the point of needing a minister apiece,
and that meant I'd worked myself out of a job.
So my apprenticeship came to an end. In the spring
of 1945 the Foote family packed up and trekked to
St. Paul. We brought Fran aged seven, Nathan, five,
and Caleb, eighteen months. The baby was suffering
from some undiagnosed ailment, and the doctors seemed
unable to reverse his malnutrition. Probably only
our move to St. Paul, with its fine Children's Hospital,
saved his life.
That was twelve years ago. So full have these years
been it is difficult even to summarize. They have
seen Fran become a high school graduate and now a
licensed practical nurse; Nathan, a senior at St.
Paul Academy holding more than his share of honors,
including the co-captaincy of Minnesota's Independent
School League champion football team, and a hopeful
applicant to the old alma mater; and Caleb, a sturdy
teenager, a wiry, left halfback on the Second Form
team. Not surprisingly, they have seen Papa and Momma
grow a little grey around the temples. They have seen
the church more than double in size, and add a fine
new wing to its parish house. They have seen many
exciting chapters in the mental hospital reform in
the State, spark-plugged by an aggressive Unitarian
Committee. And they have seen the manually clumsy
parson become a handyman with hammer and saw. Several
childhood chums have been amazed when they have visited
us in "The Dinghy," our summer cabin on
the rockribbed shores at So'west Harbor, Maine, built
by your correspondent, and his wonderful wife and
If the foregoing sounds more than a mite pollyannish,
my only defense is that it is written by a happy
man, who has found the struggle to become a mature
person challenging, the work of the ministry rewarding,
and the role of husband and father both.
-Courtesy of the Harvard University Archives
College 50th Anniversary Report
A.B., 1933; B.D. (Meadville Theological School),
1936; D.D. (Meadville Theological School),
MARRIED: Rebecca Carroll Clark, 1933, Southwest
CHILDREN: Frances Eliot Foote, 1937, m. Carl
J. Stehman, Jr.; Nathan Clark, 1940 (Harvard
'62), m. Wily de Broen; Caleb, 1943 (Harvard
'66), m. Susan Bartlett.
OCCUPATION: Retired Unitarian Universalist
Minister, Unity Church, St. Paul, Minn.
HOME ADDRESS: P.O. Box 574, Southwest Harbor,
OFFICES HELD, HONORS AND AWARDS: Chairman
of the Board of Trustees, Meadville/Lombard
Theological School, 1960-1963; Chairman of
the Commission, Unitarian Universalist Assoc.
PRINCIPAL WORKS: Taking Down the Defenses,
Beacon Press, 1975; Hymns
for the Celebration of Life, Beacon Press,
a twenty-five-year pastorate in Saint Paul in
1970, Rebecca and I decided to return to Southwest
Harbor, her native and my adopted home, to enjoy
our elective years. Our quarter-century in Minnesota
was personally furfilling, but we were ready
for a change of scene and occupation. A childhood
visit to a famous old Italian pottery had left
me with an itch to try my hand at turning lumps
of clay into objects of usefulness and beauty.
At the Saint Paul Art Center, I learned all
I could about this craft, and now, for a dozen
years, I have practiced this second career as
a stoneware potter. It has proved immensely
satisfying. First, we renovated my wife's ancestral
home, one of our town's oldest, adding some
modern conveniences and a studio wing. The house
was built by her great-great-grandfather, Captain
Nathan Clark, and looks out over our charming
Besides throwing pots, I keep as busy as I want
to be with occasional preaching, growing vegetables,
chopping wood for our three stoves, hiking,
reading, trying to learn how to play the piano,
and enjoying old (and not so old) friends who
drop in on usespecially our children and
grandchildren when they make it back to Maine.
We travel a little, but not too much; it's too
nice right here. Our proximity to Acadia National
Park adds much to our enjoyment of life; and
after many urban years we are glad for the slower,
quiet life of a Maine village (slower and quiet,
that is, except during the tourist season).
Our blessings are many, and we enjoy counting
-Courtesy of the Harvard University Archives
Davidson Loehr, Minister of Unity Church
in St. Paul, Minnesota
Foote in 1974 with a piece of his pottery.
it's been clear to me from talking with
so many of you who knew him that Arthur
Foote was quite remarkable, both as man
and minister. It's not that he was SuperPastor,
or excelled at every facet of this multifaceted
job. He hated fund raising, disliked administration,
and supported the religious education of
children mostly from a distance.
Still, so many stories and memories you've
shared with me testify to a warmth, authenticity,
and empathy about the man that have reminded
me of the special kinds of opportunities
and privileges with which this profession
of parish ministry is entrusted.
We all hope to live in such a way that those
who knew us will speak kindly of us when
we are gone, though we never get to hear
it. It's too bad that we can't somehow be
allowed to get an advance screening of our
eulogies, so we'll know that when people
told us how much they appreciated and loved
us, they really weren't kidding.
The best story I've heard about Arthur so
far is too good not to share. It happened
a long time ago, at the church picnic after
the final service in May. Jack Barwise,
now gone, was there with his family, including
his daughter Mary, who told me this story.
Jack adored Arthur Foote. He idolized him.
He sent Arthur frequent notes of appreciation,
and signed them "D.D."which
he explained stood for "Devoted Disciple."
Jack had gone to the picnic from church,
and was still wearing his suit. He was bugging
Arthur about something now long forgotten,
and he was being quite persistent. It was,
apparently, a kind of cross between fawning
and flat-out pestering. Finally, it wore
Arthur down. "Oh Jack," he said,
"go jump in the lake!" Whereupon
Arthur Foote's Devoted Disciple ran out
onto the dock and did just that! A few minutes
later, standing on shore as his suit dripped
dry, he explained to his family that he
did it "because my minister told me
Boy, they just don't make parishioners like
that any more! They don't make many ministers
like that anymore, either. You who have
shared your still-warm stories with me were
lucky to have had Arthur Foote for your
ministerI suppose the proper word
is "blessed." This church was
also blessed, and those blessings linger
in the form of old tales, wet-eyed memories,
funny and poignant stories of a man whom
Jews would call a real Mensch, and
whom you got to call the Rev. Arthur Foote
at left, competeing for Harvard
in his pottery studio
courtesy of Frances Eliot Foote Stehman
Hymns for the Celebration
of Life (Boston: Beacon Press, 1954).
Taking Down the Defenses;
A Lenten Manual (Boston: Beacon Press, 1954).