Deceased October 26, 2010
His life of 74 years was one of constant “contribution” . . . to human dignity, to the needs of the neediest, to international understanding, to respectfulness for all religious traditions – though he was himself an Ordained Minister in the United Church of Christ (1961).
At Al’s memorial service November 2, 2010, person after person hailed him as a “bridge-builder” and a “peacemaker.” Representatives of five world religions – Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian – came forward to pay him tribute.
Al deserved all the superlative tributes he received; his life itself was a tribute to the Amherst College education of the 1950's. Although I “technically” only shared one year at Amherst with Al, I also overlapped with him at Yale Divinity School, worked with him, in mutual ministry projects, and our families vacationed together when our children were young. Al later continued his education earning a Master’s in Sociology at the New School for Social Research.
Al loved Amherst where he (Al’s words again) ”came to see that the dominant themes (were) caring, community, kindness, and . . . compassion.” He was a first generation American whose father had come as an infant and who wanted Al to have all the things he himself had missed. One step in that quest was his decision to send Al to Andover, the most serious regret of which Al recounted as the Amherst prohibition against “wearing jackets or insignia that identified us as coming from a particular high school.” Al’s life was to change by conversion at Amherst from Judaism to Christianity through involvement with the chaplains of the Christian Association, and he threw himself into manyvolunteer service projects in the greater Amherst community. From those Amherst and Divinity School years he went on to nine years of literacy work, community development, preaching and teaching in rural Ghana. He then traveled the world consulting internationally for The United Church of Christ, served a local church in Levittown, PA, for 13 years, helped found housing opportunities for low income people in Bucks County, PA, and inspired the creation of an Interfaith Council for Middle East Peace.
J. Alan McLean ‘55 (with Hendrik Gideonse ‘58)