A tribute to Don Mohr

Don Mohr Memorial Service 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012

Our beloved Don Mohr died peacefully in his sleep Oct. 21, 2012 at Richland Hospital with his dear wife Pat by his side. He is greatly missed by his friends, family, and his UUCC family, of which he was a congregational father figure. A memorial service was held 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the UUCC. Neal Jones' comments can be heard by clicking the photo below.

Don's Legacy

Ministerial Musings
Don's Legacy 
          I think all of us are still in shock over the death of Don Mohr. It was just a few weeks ago that he courageously stood before us during Candles of Community and calmly shared with us his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. All of us, including Don, knew his time with us would be brief, but his death still came shockingly all too soon. I guess none of us really wanted to believe that he would be gone.
      It will be nearly impossible for me to imagine our congregation without Don Mohr. He was as close to an Elder as we have in the UU. He and Pat have been pillars of the UUCC since 1986, when our congregation had just moved into our present building. He was the greeter who welcomed us on Sunday mornings outside our front entrance. He was the chair of the Worship Committee, planning services with guest speakers and ministers and conducting his own special services on special occasions, like his Christmas Eve services of readings and carols and his Remembrance Service each January reflecting on the lives of the famous, infamous, and unknown. Don had a background in theater, upon which he sometimes drew to stage dramatic performances for us, like his production of "Congregation of Amazons," a presentation of the women's suffrage movement.
      Don volunteered in RE and taught our kids UU history. He was our unofficial repair man, trimming shrubbery, painting RE rooms, the social hall, and sanctuary, making the bathrooms accessible, and remodeling the kitchen. Earlier this year, he was promoted to construction supervisor, as he oversaw the renovations to our social hall and playground and the construction of our patio and sign, and we presented him with his own construction helmet at our building dedication service.

       Don and Pat wrote and submitted the Chalice Lighter grant that secured some of the funding for our renovations from the Southeast District. He served on the UUA Commission on Appraisal, addressing issues and concerns of our denomination. He served on our Board of Trustees several times, twice as President, and he and Pat modeled a Co-Presidency which will be emulated next year by Robin Scherer and Ivy Coleman.
      If our walls could talk, they would speak Don's name. He literally and figuratively touched every nook and cranny of our building. As a sacrament is something tangible that makes the sacred transparent, our building is a sacrament to Don Mohr, his dedication and leadership, his service and kindness, his humor and humility. It is altogether fitting that his ashes will be the first to be buried in our memorial garden, yet another project he oversaw.
      We will remember and celebrate the life of this gentle, decent man at a memorial service this Saturday at 2:00, and on November 11, we will receive and celebrate his final legacy to us. He and Pat have bequeathed to the UUCC $100,000 in stocks for an endowment fund. Our Board has appointed an ad hoc Planned Giving Committee that will establish a planned giving program for our congregation and define the purpose, governance, and operating procedures of an endowment fund.
      To the end of his days, Don Mohr gave everything to our congregation because our congregation meant everything to him, and we will sorely miss him because he meant everything to us. Because of his generosity of time, talent, and money, the UU principles which guided his life will continue to enrich the lives of our children and future UUs who make our congregation their spiritual home -- a home Don built with his hands and heart.
                                                                                                   -- Neal

John Starino tribute

You Were There

In Memoriam and Tribute to the life that is Don Mohr

Member and Pillar of our Community, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, SC.

You were there:

When the Fellowship front door needed to be unlocked, the lights turned on, along with the heat. And you were the first person I met at that door.

With an election to be Chairman of the Board of Directors with your beloved wife and partner Pat.

When the count on Sunday needed to be taken.

Not only were you there, it seems like, you were always there.

When you gave a hug, your arms stretched so far around as to comfort, could hear your heartbeat strong, steady and sure. Every time afterwards, whenever with the sound of your voice, your hug was always there.

To partake in organizing our UUCC’s participation and attendance in each year’s UUA General Assembly by offering guidance, sharing anecdotes, contributing from your encyclopedic memory, to move our congregation forward.

As Albus Dumbledore, a kind wise leader. And as J. K. Rowling explains her character, we know she was talking about you. Dumbledore’s attribute "is the epitome of goodness".

To speak to me when there was a need, then in time sensed the closeness depart. There was disagreement, which felt odd for what you shared. Ah Don, it is good to know with everything said during this tenure; my voice becomes the one voice of dissent. We would not be UU or human otherwise.

To offer counsel, make improvements, keep committees and the grounds nurtured, one project after another for this our Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia.

To exemplify humility through one of your greatest achievements, which is your love for theatre, writing scripts, and not really directing, fostering with humor! Was it because of your roots from ‘Bama where you witnessed injustice first hand and your continued work for social justice here? Your themes and overview of women’s rights, health rights, and humanities rights came to fore and extended from your authenticity with dispatch and pronunciation for it is from your heart, the "This I value".

To make this difference shared by many, and in my humility, will do my best to transcribe these voices heard and unheard. To borrow from one of my own phrases, this is to designate your presence. Your presence of writing and fostering "A Congregation Of Amazons", now this is their tribute to you. Don, you are imbued with the aesthetic of knowing right from wrong, the injustices women find themselves involved in; just because of archaic patriarchal views of women, you built a theatre presentation thematically depicting the suffragette movement heard by our congregation with the voices of women through time and now. And this was presented at the annual UUA meeting in Nashville, TN, which was the last state of this union to acclaim a women’s right to vote! Even then as you improve the lighting in our sanctuary, you lend your light to so many you have met. Now as then, with this memory shared by many, your presence will transcend time even after your physical form has returned to sod.

For one particular project, The Memorial Garden, up until your last breath you adhered to task for its completion, where your ashes will be laid to rest. 8

On one Sunday of the year officiating to honor those that achieved their own element of success, commemorating a life lived. One mark about these services, you recognized those of wit, talent, fame and infamy. You did not discriminate; you made a point to be universal in making note of each life lived.

Oh, You were there.

And during one such Sunday I added my voice with verse for our Fellowship’s own Laurel Sutton who departed. I am reminded of this line I spoke then and I add here.

"in reverence and in grace

lay this laurel as a wreath

to sleep with the wildfolk of the earth

where she will continue to play"

now with you.

As you see I have added my verse for you, though not just me.

For someone as you who has touched many lives, many have added their memories of you. It may be my voice speaking, each of our voices resonate along with me.

When it is time as we reckon time as Autumn’s trees shed their leaves with a wind that whips these leaves around and around. These leaves of memory within all of us here gathered of you. May we give grace to our memories cherished by those we have shared with, as you have shared, I daresay, magnificently with us.

Even though you were there then, now you are here within us. May we always remember your gifts you bestowed during our own walk in life each and every day.

Now as we exit the Sanctuary, enter the Memorial Garden, with our minister, Neal Jones, leading us in song and prayer with your wife Pat and Family alongside. Your salt urn remains are placed in a furrow. Even though your physical presence has come to its end, Pat will be heartened every time she comes to speak with you here. She will remember this day with warmth for this love exemplified within Sanctuary to Memorial Garden for you are here. As Pat knows, whenever "there is love in a room, Don is there".

We have come to honor our memories of you along with adding our strength to your Family. What you did for us, may we, in our own way, be there for whom you love so much. Amen.

In humility and for respect

Compiled, written, and spoken

By John M. Starino


Don Mohr (above left) drinks from the Natural Fountain near Rome's Forum Oct. 22, 2010.
Don Mohr (above right and below) at the Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy Oct. 28, 2010 with his wife,
Pat (red hat,) and Madonna Gauthreaux (blue scarf) and Don and Carol Dodson. The photo was taken by Madonna's
daughter, Morgan Gauthreaux.
Wikipedia: "The Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor
commonly known as the Franciscan Order—in Assisi, Italy, the city where St. Francis was born and died. The basilica,
which was begun in 1228, is built into the side of a hill and comprises two churches known as the Upper Church and
the Lower Church, and a crypt where the remains of the saint are interred. The interior of the Upper Church is an
important early example of the Gothic style in Italy. The Upper and Lower Churches are decorated with frescoes
by numerous late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools, and include works by Cimabue, Giotto,
Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and possibly Pietro Cavallini. The range and quality of the works gives the basilica
a unique importance in demonstrating the development of Italian art of this period."
Neal Jones thanks Don Mohr for his leadership on the
building and grounds renovations as part of the
recognitions delivered as the work was commemorated
June 17, 2012. [Click photo to hear audio]
Don Mohr, Mike Paget and Michael Walker  
 Dedication of building and grounds improvements at the UUCC June 17, 2012
Yes, Don did smile. This is a photo taken by Susan DuPlessis in the RE wing of the UUCC Oct. 25, 2009.
Paulette Cunningham, Melanie Baker and Don Mohr work on the Obama campaign at the S.C. Democratic headquarters Oct. 31, 2008.
Paulette Cunningham, Melanie Baker and Don Mohr work on the
Obama campaign at the S.C. Democratic headquarters Oct. 31, 2008.
I met Don when he came in to volunteer for the campaign around August.
He became part of our "data team." -- Jim DuPlessis

Don Mohr on the patio

This is a section of "out-takes" from video I was shooting in preparation for the building and grounds dedication
June 17, 2012. It's the only "candid" video I think I have of Don Mohr. All the video was shot Saturday, June 9,
except the opening and closing shots, which I did June 10 when I had a tripod. -- Jim DuPlessis
"Good King Wenceslas" (Don Mohr) and his entourage at the UUCC holiday pageant Dec. 19, 2010
(photos by Fran O'Toole).
      Wenceslas, according to Wikipedia, braves harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (the second day of Christmas,
December 26). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by following the king's
footprints, step for step, through the deep snow. The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907–935).
The Czech form of the name is (Svatý) Václav. The chronicler Cosmas of Prague, writing in about the year 1119, states:
      "But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed,
with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted
by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched."

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia 
2701 Heyward Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29205

Church Office Hours
10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, Minister


2701 Heyward Street, Columbia, SC 29205 803-799-0845