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Rev. Dick Leonard: All Souls Memories

by Rev. Dick Leonard.

My first wedding at All Souls (eventually followed by close to 2000 more) was on June 28, 1969, in the main sanctuary. The bride was Lenore (Nordie) Marlowe, the groom was Paul Sundberg. The bride's father, Dr. George Marlowe, had been a fellow-student of mine at Yale, and much to my surprise, he married my first wife, Barbara (and the mother of my two children) in 1968. Polly and I got married in 1970.

The Marlowe wedding was the first time I had been in All Souls Church, including all the time I had been at the Community Church (1951-53 and 1959-68), though I had gotten to know Donald Kring fairly well at Ministers' meetings around the city.

George took my former wife and my two children to Holland to live, then to Japan. He later committed suicide in NYC.

Just to complete the curious circle, I must add that when I did Nordie's wedding I had known both her and her sister at Homestead summer camp a few seasons before. And through all those histrionics in the late '60s and '70s, my younger daughter Elizabeth and Nordie built a strong friendship that very much lasts today, the Sundbergs living in Stockbridge and Elizabeth in Maine. The two families and their children often are together for holidays.

My connection to Forrest Church began on Dec. 3, 1978, when I met him at a Christmas party for UU ministers at the Brooklyn home of the Rev. Don McKinney and his wife. As the newly-called minister to All Souls, Forrest was the center of attention. I said to Polly when I got home, "I could work with that guy - I never saw anybody so outwardly upbeat."

Right after Christmas we had the Church family to dinner. The baby, Twig, was put in our bed surrounded by pillows, while I put the proposition to Forrest that I could work at All Souls two days a week as an informal assistant minister, while continuing to be the development officer and fund raiser for Columbia Prep School.

He seemed delighted, and I began as head of the burgeoning congregation's Membership Committee. A year later I was hired as part-time assistant, at two days a week, and within several years it became three days and then four days, as Columbia Prep built its building and I tapered off there.

Such are the twists and turns that seem to control much of our life. I don't see my private life as material for a bicentennial celebration, but you asked, and it was somewhat satisfying for me to see the above in print. And thanks for being interested!

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