The Reverend Arnold Farrow Westwood died on Sunday, August 16 at age 88.
Arnold was the first called minister of The First Unitarian Church in Fairfield County, later changed to The Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport, following the merger of the Unitarians and Universalists. There were two Universalist churches in Fairfield County prior to merger. Dr. Karl Chwororski had been hired by the Board as the first clergy person; Arnold was voted by the growing congregation, or called, as we say, in 1958.
Ayear later, when the Building Committee was searching for an architect to design the new church, it was Arnold who asked them to consider ʻone more,ʼand they chose Victor Lundy. Victorʼs design was bold, and it was ultimately approved by the adventurous group of religious liberals in lower Fairfield County. Two years ago Victor and Arnold spent a wonderful weekend with us — their first reunion in 45 years! Thereʼs a very touching photograph on our website of the two of them, beaming and walking arm and arm down the sanctuary aisle.
Prior to Arnoldʼs death, all the called ministers of The Unitarian Church in Westport were living. I first met Arnold long before I arrived in Westport — in 1975 he spoke at a District Clergy meeting at a Unitarian retreat house, Senexet. He told us that Westport was his most important ministry, and he regretted leaving for Cleveland, a ministry that never took hold and lasted ʻtwo long years,ʼas he put it. Arnold was proud of our congregation and never lost his sense of connection to us.
When I was invited to meet with the Westport Search Committee, 25 years ago, I contacted each of the previous ministers to see what they thought. Ed Lane was very encouraging, but it was Arnold with whom Ispent an entire day, listening and taking many pages of notes, which Iʼve kept. It was clear to me that Arnold was big on Westport. I was glad to have him speak at my installation and to return to preach, and Iʼll cherish his visit with Victor.
Arnold was very complimentary of my work and said that he appreciated my ministry to him during his retirement years, including the memorial service we held for his wife, Carolyn, several years ago. His death leaves a hole — Iʼll miss our conversations and camaraderie. Iʼll remember him with fondness, appreciation and respect.
One of the initiatives Arnold applauded was our commitment to our Partner Church in Alsoboldogfalva, Transylvania. You may have heard that weʼre expecting a delegation from their congregation in October. Itʼs a dream long deferred. Iʼm looking forward to renewing friendships, since I havenʼt visited them for several years. You remember the visit of their minister, Biro Mihaly, and his wife, Elizabeth, a few years ago.
Finally, I want to bring you up to date on my hip replacement surgery; itʼs a common procedure, except when it happens to you — then itʼs uniquely personal and challenging. Iʼve done well, so far — as I write Iʼm a month into rehab. I spent a few days at Norwalk Hospital, then came directly home, under Loryʼs watchful, caring eye, and with the help of a Physical Therapist I got to work on a rehab program. After a few weeks I was able to get to Maine, with my son Jonathan doing the driving, and came under the equally watchful and loving care of my daughter, Sue, staying at her Maine house. It was just what the doctor ordered. Iʼll be ready for a new season after Labor Day, and a new chapter to my life and work.
I hope you are well and in good spirits. Iʼll see you soon.