Five Obituaries (2011-12)

Five obituaries were sent to the Editor of the Chronicle in 2012, after the last issue was printed. The decision was taken that the new publication, ‘Little Portion’, would not carry obituaries. We apologize for the delay in implementing the alternative system of putting these on the web directly and hope that this is acceptable.

Elsie Frances Stanjer
1921 – 2011

Frances had a conscientious character, always concerned with the needs of others. A spiritual woman, of pure, admirable morals, she was strength, inspiration and guide to those who knew her, viewing others with respect and sympathy without judgement or criticism. A very religious woman, the embodiment of many Franciscan ideals.

From an early age a love of nature blossomed in love and fascination with music, proving to be a life-long passion with considerable talent. Her gift was playing the piano, also teaching, and helping others to aspire to, and achieve even greater heights.

Admiring many composers, her greatest admiration was for Beethoven, with whom she ultimately shared the frustrating disability of deafness. Despite difficulties this created in later life, plus many ailments, she strived always to be helpful and supportive to those around her, including many worthy charities.

She continues to inspire those who knew her, being remembered with love and gratitude.

Frances Stanjer died in November 2011

by Marilyn Jackson

Evelyn Smith TSSF

Evelyn died peacefully at home after a long illness. She never in all her time lost her Franciscan faith which was initially gained following a quiet day led by Brother Edward in Kibworth back in 1979. With Harold, her husband, and Shirley Lee they became some of the first Franciscans to join the TSSF in Leicestershire. All three were professed in 1981.

Evelyn had many talents but most will remember her hospitality, it had all the hallmarks of Franciscan simplicity with genuine love and care, welcoming new aspirants and others to their home to discover what Franciscan life in the Third Order could be like. They both had the ability
to make everyone feel welcome. Always faithful in her church and Franciscan life, worshipping regularly in the parish church, leading bible study groups, as well as painting and prayer sessions.

The small group of Third Order members met frequently in their bungalow, always with something nice cooked and served with such joy, and many happy times were shared in a lifelong journey of Franciscan love. She will be sorely missed but is at last with her Lord at rest and peace.

Revd. David W Faulks, TSSF,
Kibworth Convenor, Northampton Area
March 2012

Pat Gathercole
1934 – 2012

It was a particular shock when Pat died last January after a relatively short illness. For much of last year she and her husband Wally were much in our prayers as he had a serious heart problem from which he has recovered after major surgery.

An only child, she was born in Alton and grew up in Hayling Island and Gosport where she remembered the house being bombed, luckily no one at home. At school she developed a love of sport, especially hockey and tennis. Aged 17 she went to London to join the Civil
Service living in pretty basic hostels. At this time she met Wally and they were married in 1955, moving to Guildford in 1957.

She gained a diploma in Social Studies in the 1970s and was a social worker caring particularly for those with mental health problems. After some years she became frustrated that meetings and report writing got in the way of her desire to help people; so she gave up paid work and devoted herself to parish work. She attended a Pastoral Assistants course and was licensed in 1978 and in 1985 both she and Wally were awarded a Diploma in Religious Studies. Two years later she graduated with a degree from the Open University. She considered taking a Masters but her vicar persuaded her to take the Readers course and she was licensed in 1990. While all this studying was going on she and four others had started a weekly drop-in centre at the Church Hall which is still going after 30 years and a source of comfort for literally hundreds of people.

With that sort of CV joining the Third Order was a natural progression and she was professed in1996. She was a faithful member of the Area and her care for others was particularly evident when convener of our Wey Valley group. Her love of creation was often beautifully expressed
in the cards she made using her photographic and computer skills with lovely pictures and well chosen words. She expressed in her life the Franciscan values of prayer, love, joy, and service with humility and these underpinned her relationships in general within and outside the
church. We loved her and miss her greatly and give thanks for her life with us and all she gave to us.

Anthony Hillard (Area Minister, Guildford)
with a lot of help from her family

Revd Barbara Thatcher
1925-2012

I am a natural Franciscan”. Barbara Thatcher said this to me, with a tortoise on her lap, as I groaned to her about the difficulties of simple living, sharing, and so on. It was no rebuke, but a modest statement of fact, a confession.

Barbara was a bank manager’s daughter from Bristol. The family later moved to Cardiff, where Barbara took a degree in banking and economics, obtaining first class honours. The head of her department then moved to Glasgow to what is now the Department of Economic History at Strathclyde University, and soon, in 1949, asked Barbara to join her as a Temporary Lecturer. She stayed there till she retired. She was a brilliant teacher, much admired by students and staff alike.

In 1967 Barbara and her mother together moved to Helensburgh, joining St Michael and All Angels’ Church, at which she became a lay reader. She was one of the first women to fill such a post. Her sermons were electrically clear and often radical: her congregations of the 1980s were often startled by ideas of “Mother God” or were warned not to leave their brains in the car before entering the church. Many of those who heeded the warning were signing up for Barbara’s classes for the Certificate of Christian Education (“Bishop’s Certificate”); in these classes Barbara was inspirational, also ensuring that her quietest pupils could get a hearing.

In 1990 Barbara became one the first women deacons, and in 1994, at the age of 69, she was ordained priest – the first ordination of women priests in Scotland. Barbara’s ministry went well beyond Helensburgh and indeed the Anglican church. Before she was ordained Barbara was Convener of Helensburgh Christian Council, and served on ARCIC and in the Multilateral Conversations. She was in numerous committees in Glasgow Diocese covering faith, education and training for ministry, often as “the statutory woman” as she put it.

And of course the Third Order SSF. Barbara was professed, “blaming” Br Edward, in about 1978. Others who knew her were to follow her example. Indeed Helensburgh soon became a recognised local area of SSF. Barbara became Convener of Scotland Area, and later a Chaplain.

After the millennium, when she turned 75, Barbara decided to let go much of her church ministry. A few years later she fractured her hip, was taken to hospital, contracted MRSA which attacked her eyes, and within a few months became totally blind. She stayed in her home, uncannily navigating furniture, doors and garden paths while feeding the birds or picking dandelions for the tortoises. Despite such a dreadful misfortune Barbara was never bitter. She even managed to conduct a small group meeting after writing the main topics on a card and giving it to one of us as a prompt; she never needed the card.

Barbara gave away her beloved tortoises. Her surrounding Franciscan family whom she had supported were now able to support her. She died peacefully after a short illness. Her memory will continue to inspire us for many years to come.

Michael Blake

Rev Margaret Cundiff TSSF
1932 – 2011

Margaret Cundiff was among the first women to be ordained to the priesthood in 1994; priest, pastor, author and broadcaster, her nature and her communication skills meant that she touched the lives of many.

She was funny and definitely down to earth. Franciscan simplicity and humility were very much her scene. Whether she was speaking of her family, her church work, the media or her hospital treatment – all was described in her inimitable, cheerful manner, and at times with a wickedly dry sense of humour. She was a Franciscan who wanted to share God’s word and love; she was steeped in the Franciscan characteristics of love, joy and humility, which were reflected in all aspects of her life.

She demonstrated an irrepressible love of life. Her unstinting service in her parish and the wider diocese showed her deep love of Christ and of his people, which motivated her to carry on when both her age and her physical health might have provided perfectly valid reasons for her to stop and put her feet up.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

(This tribute has been compiled with the help of members of Margaret’s Local Group – York, in the Yorkshire North and East Area)

Revd Barbara Thatcher (.pdf)

Evelyn Smith (.pdf)

Elsie Frances Stanjer (.pdf)

Revd Margaret Cundiff (.pdf)

Pat_Gathercole (.pdf)