Rev. Luther Youngdahl
Youngdahl, Rev. Luther "Bill" age 85, passed away August 15 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after a long illness. A native of Minneapolis, Reverend Youngdahl was the son of former Minnesota Governor and former Federal Judge Luther Wallace Youngdahl and his wife Irene. Bill dedicated his life and his ministry to social justice and sharing God's message of peace. Prior to his illness, Bill had been enjoying an active and happy retirement in Washington State. Born on May 16, 1927, in Minneapolis, Bill graduated in 1945 from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis and attended Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Minnesota before receiving a bachelor's degree from Yale University. He received a Master's of Divinity degree from Augustana Theological Seminary in Rock Island, Illinois and a Master's of Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York, New York. In 1952, Bill married Eileen Vogt, of St. Paul and they were blessed with three children, Andrea, Julie, and Jon. Rev. Youngdahl served as pastor of many churches across the country during his ministry, including building two new missions churches-Calvary Lutheran in Federal Way, WA, and St. Stephen Lutheran in Bloomington, MN. He led Lutheran Church of America (LCA) congregations in the states of Washington, Minnesota, Nebraska and California. Bill's gospel of social justice gained fervor during the civil rights movement. He worked with the national LCA to build support across the country for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He also helped Augsburg College in Minneapolis to start an Urban Studies Program. Bill's work in Omaha, Nebraska, to build a dialog between two racially segregated Lutheran churches was the subject of the critically-acclaimed documentary A Time for Burning. In 1966, A Time for Burning was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and in 2005 the film was selected for preservation in the US Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Bill became a United Church of Christ (UCC) minister in 1970 and led churches in Minnesota, California, Oregon, and Washington, including First Congregational Churches in Minneapolis and Palo Alto. His ministry was rooted in the spirit of interfaith collaboration and he was a pioneer in embracing open and affirming congregations. Bill and Eileen made many friends and influenced many lives around the country. Eileen's warmth, kindness and social-organizing skills helped them, as a team, to both raise a family and spread God's message of hope, love and understanding. They made life-long friends wherever they went and inspired their own three children to also dedicate their lives to bettering the condition of all the peoples of the world. Bill was preceded in death by his parents and by his beloved Eileen, who died suddenly in 2000, his granddaughter, Diantha Williams, his brother David, brother-in-law John, and niece Jan. He is survived by his sister Margaret Youngdahl Peterson of Boston, Massachusetts, his sister-in-law Cathy Youngdahl of Pepper Pike, OH, two daughters, Andrea Youngdahl (Bea Andrade) of Walnut Creek, California, and Julie Youngdahl (Steve Boice) of Winston-Salem, and one son, Jon Youngdahl (Cherie Parker) of Washington, DC, his loving companion Elayne Spangler and Elayne's two children Barbara and Dave, and three grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews and cousins. A family service was held on Saturday, August 18, at Parkway United Church of Christ in Winston- Salem. Interment will be at Mountain View Cemetery in Lakewood, Washington. Donations in Bill's memory to Habitat for Humanity (habitat. org) would be appreciated.
Published on August 19, 2012
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