In Loving Memory of Neil Wayne Gerdes (1946 - 2016)

With heavy hearts drenched in profound sadness, we share the news of the passing of our beloved colleague, Rev. Dr. Neil Wayne Gerdes. 

President Lee Barker wishes to share his thoughts:

"As President of Meadville Lombard Theological School, it is my sad duty to offer a tribute to Neil Wayne Gerdes---Professor Emeritus, who passed away at the age of 73 after a brief illness. Neil was Unitarian Universalism's librarian extraordinaire, having served on the faculty of Meadville for 40 years prior to his retirement in 2013. He was a wonderful mentor to students, a lover of books and information, a passionate spokesperson for tradition and academic protocol, an erudite conversationalist, a man of very goofy humor, and a champion for liberal theological education. He gave much to our school and our students and to our movement. His is a profound loss.

"Neil was also my dear friend, and that is so much more difficult to express. All those qualities he brought to our school, he also brought to his friendships. I met him when I arrived at Meadville Lombard as a student in 1974 and we remained thick ever since. In many ways we were so different from one another, but that didn't seem to bother either of us... too much. I think of all the adventures we had together over the years---all the places we travelled, all the milestones we celebrated, all the laughter and tears that bonded us to one another. Those memories make me so sad and so grateful. I wish he were here now so we could share them with each other just one more time.

"The school has lost one of its giants. And I have lost a good and loyal friend."

Neil's legacy will live on through our alums, but also in Meadville Lombard's rare book collection, which is named after him. During his years as Dean of the Library and Associate Professor of Bibliography, he ensured that the Wiggin Library played a vital role in forming ministers and serving the wider Unitarian Universalist community. Neil adapted the library to serve a new educational model and shaped it to take full advantage of a new, state-of-the-art facility. Because of this stewardship, the library will be able to continue to adapt and to serve Meadville Lombard for years to come.

"For me my most meaningful and profound learning has come from the pages of books, often guided by great teachers. For me the most critical task of theological education is the spiritual formation of men and women into ministers. Thus my job of providing the best theological libraries I can and of teaching spiritual direction whenever possible has been one of my life's primary pleasures and commitments."  ---Neil Wayne Gerdes 

Below is the announcement from the UUA.


The Ministries and Faith Development staff offer our condolences to the family and colleagues of the Rev. Dr. Neil Wayne Gerdes who died on November 6, 2016 at the age of 73.

He is survived by his four sisters: Marjorie Carpenter, Reta Morrissey, Marlene Saad, and Eleanor Rohf; his 18 nieces and nephews; and his many great-nieces and great-nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at
Erie United Methodist Church
811 8th St., Erie, IL 61250 

Additionally, a memorial service will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 20, 2016 at
the First Unitarian Church of Chicago
5650 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago, IL 60637

Notes of condolence can be sent to
Marjorie Carpenter
9520 Fuller Rd., Albany, IL 61230

A more complete obituary will follow.