D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville Oral History Collection
OH-UUCA

Summary Information

Repository
UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives
Title
Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville
ID
OH-UUCA
Date [inclusive]
1993-2001
Extent
1.7 Linear feet  ; 2 boxes
Physical Description
Generally consists of audio recordings of interviews on cassette tape, and sometimes, copy CDs. Any supplementary materials, such as transcripts, abstracts, photographs and clippings, are described within each individual oral history. Some recordings are missing, with only a written abstract being available in the collection, whilst others have gaps and/or inaudible sections
Location
Located in Special Collections row 3, section 1
Language
English

Preferred Citation

[Title of Interview], Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville Oral History Collection, D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina Asheville

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Scope and Contents

On October 14, 1992 the History Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville (UUCA) decided to record the life of the church to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the church's heritage for present and future generations. The oral histories in this collection are the result of that decision, and consist of interviews collected in two distinct phases, 1993-95 and 1999-2001. The level of information varies greatly between interviews, but all the interviewees have a connection with the UUCA, and the interviews focus on the interviewee's relationship with the church, and its people. Some interviews include additional information about the interviewee and, occasionally, about the city of Asheville.

Abstracts and/or transcripts are included for most interviews. A small number of interviews also include supplementary materials, such as photographs and clippings.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives

Ramsey Library, CPO # 1500
One University Heights
Asheville, North Carolina, 28804-8504
828.251.6645
speccoll@unca.edu

Rights

Some restrictions as noted for specific interviews. Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Creator

Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville

Processing Information

Originally processed by Southern Highlands Research Center, and Special Collections staff. New finding aid by Colin Reeve, October 2016

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Related Collections

Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville Collection [M2009.04]

The Voices of Asheville Project also contains some interviews with members of the UUCA, and the church may feature prominently in these interviews

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Collection Inventory

Murray Asch 

Interview Dates and Interviewers

April 16, 2000 - Andy Reed ; December 5, 2000 - Evelyn Smith

Format

Audio cassette tapes ; text

Scope and Contents

Consists of two separate interviews with Murray Asch. In the first [April, 2000] interview he talks about his background as an orthodox Jew, and how he came to attend the Unitarian Church. He describes his role as an usher in the church, and his work with seniors and the Alzheimer's Association. Although Andy Reed is the lead interviewer he is joined by two other men who ask questions.

In the second interview [December, 2000], Murray again covers how he found the church and his role there, and his Jewish background, but also talks about his love of opera, his family, and working with the Area Agency on Aging

Biography

Murray Asch was born in 1912. He moved for New York in 1967 and arrived and arrived in Asheville in 1998, after living Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama. He joined the Unitarian Universalist church in 1989,and was a volunteer with the Retired Senior Volunteer Corps at the Land of Sky Council, the Alzheimer's Association, and the AARP. Murray Asch died in 2004, aged 92.

Additional Materials

Transcripts of both interviews

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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Herb Ball 

Interview Date and Interviewer

February 14, 1995 ; Bob Potter

Format

Audio cassette tape ; CD ; text

Scope and Contents

Herb Ball recounts living in Chicago and meeting his wife, the impact of the Depression, working in the nuclear reactor industry, and moving to Western North Carolina when he retired in 1969. He talks about his hobbies, including square dancing, and bird watching, and joining the Unitarian Universalist Church in Asheville.

Biography

Herb Ball was born in 1903 in Wheaton, Illinois. He worked as a metallurgical engineer before retiring to Western North Carolina.

Additional Materials

Transcript ; tape index ; biographic

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John (Jack) S. Boyce 

Interview Date and Interviewer

January 5, 1993 ; Bob Potter

Format

Audio cassette tapes ; text

Scope and Contents

Jack Boyce talks about his religious origins, and the Unitarian Church's involvement with desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s, and how it gave the church visibility and focus. He describes Eleanor Roosevelt's visit to Asheville. He also mentions serving on a jury for a murder trial, and talks about his family.

Biography

John "Jack" Boyce and his wife Anne were charter members of the Asheville Unitarian Universalist Church. After working for the Forest Service in Asheville, he became a professor at the University of Georgia, and taught and Florence College in Marion, SC. He retired to Black Mountain, before moving to Asheville. Boyce died in 1999.

Additional materials

Transcript ; tape index ; order of service for January 17, 1993 ; obituary

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Kay Brown 

Interview Date and Interviewer

September 24, 2001 ; Jane Stearns

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Kay Brown tells how she moved to Asheville in 1986 and joined the Unitarian Universalist church . She describes the church and the ministers.

Additional Materials

Transcript ; biographic

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Kendra Ford 

Interview Date and Interviewer

May 11, 2000 ; Arthur Poltney

Format

Audio cassette tape ; copy CD ;text

Scope and Contents

Kendra Ford talks about training to become a minister in the Unitarian Church, and her internship at the church in Asheville.

Biography

Born and raised in a Unitarian family from Massachusetts, Kendra Ford decided to become a minister when she was 16. She attended Meadville Lombard seminary in Chicago, and was completing an internship in Asheville at the time of the interview.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Gail Cornell Gomez 

Interview Date and Interviewer

October 30, 1994 ; Bob Potter

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Gail Gomez talks about her work as a nurse. She describes her work with local art and artists through High Country Crafters and their Kituwah [Native American heritage] project. She discusses her childhood memories of the Unitarian congregation in Asheville and their efforts to end segregation in Asheville.

Biography

Gail Gomez was born in Boston and moved to Asheville her family in the 1940s. As a teenager she attended the Unitarian Universalist church in Asheville, and worked with others in the congregation for desegregation in Asheville. She attended nursing school in Durham, where she met her husband Albino Gomez. After he served in Vietnam they moved back to Asheville where he could continue his practice as a doctor and she could continue as a nurse. They had two children, Miguel and Gail, before their divorce in 1986. She continued to serve the community through programs such as Kituwah, and the promotion of local art and artists. Gomez died in 2012.

Additional Materials

Abstract ; tape index ; Kituwah program, 1994 ; clippings

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Allie Gooding 

Interview Date

(July 8, 2001)

Format

Text

Scope and Contents

Abstract of interview with Allie Gooding, and possibly also her husband Mathew. The abstract describes the careers of the Goodings, and their involvement with the UUCA, including the major changes seen, and wished for. No audio is available.

Additional Materials

Abstract

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Yvonne (Bonnie) Habel 

Interview Dates and Interviewer

February 18, 1993 and February 24, 1993 ; Bob Potter

Format

Audio cassette tapes ; text

Scope and Contents

Bonnie Habel discusses her experience as a part of the Unitarian Universalist Church, her interest in teaching, and her involvement with learning-disabled children. She describes how she came to be involved in the UU church, after several unsatisfying experiences in other churches, and outlines the growth and development of the church over the years.

Biography

Bonnie Habel was born in Kirtland, NM, to parents who were both teachers. She went to the University of Denver on a full scholarship, where she met and married her husband, Bob Habel. She and her husband and two sons attended, and became dissatisfied, with several different churches, until they became part of the Unitarian Church in Asheville, in which they became very active. Bonnie taught Sunday School for many years. She was also involved in teaching children with learning disabilities, and presided over the Learning Disabilities Organization, working on plans for a new school that would involve intensive intervention in diagnosing learning disabilities in elementary school.

Additional Materials

Abstract ; tape index ; Children's Welfare League leaflet ; clippings ; biographic

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John and Alice Hancy 

Interview Date and Interviewer

July 13, 2001 ; Bonnie Habel

Format

Audio cassette tape ; copy CD ; text

Scope and Contents

John and Alice Hancy talk about their involvement with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, how they came to join the church in 1977, and the church members they knew.

Biography

John and Alice Hancy married in 1950, and moved to Asheville in 1977, when John, a CPA, transferred to the city.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Janet Harvey 

Interview Date and Interviewer

September 25, 2001 ; Bonnie Habel

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Janet Harvey describes moving to Asheville, joining the Unitarian Church, and becoming the first Director of Religious Education. She talks about her religious heritage of herself and her husband, and becoming an ordained minister.

Biography

Janet Harvey and her husband Tom moved from Colorado Springs to Western North Carolina in 1976. They initially lived in Waynesville, and then moved to Asheville. Janet Harvey became an ordained minister in 1991.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Bruce Larson 

Interview Date and Interviewer

February 7, 1999 ; Arthur Poultney

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Bruce Larson describes moving to Asheville in 1983, and joining the Unitarian Church. He recounts his memories of the church, including his service as usher and president.

Biography

Bruce Larson and his wife Jean moved from Durham, NC to Asheville in 1983. He served two years as president of the congregation, and was also the man usher, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Willa Newell 

Interview Date and Interviewer

July 14, 1993 ; Ruth Shatto

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

Willa Newell describes moving to Asheville in the early 1950s, with her former husband, and young daughter, joining the Unitarian church and her life in the church.

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Mary Louise Nolan 

Interview Date and Interviewer

November 3, 2001 ; Bonnie Habel

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Mary Nolan describes moving to Asheville from New York, and joining the Unitarian church in 1966. She talks about growing up in Michigan, and her education, which included a BA from Mars Hill College. She describes the church, its groups and members, and explains how she met her husband, Louis Nolan, through the church.

Additional Materials

Transcript ; biographic

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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Naomi Pullman 

Interview Date and Interviewer

November 23, 2001 ; Bonnie Habel

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Naomi Pullman describes being part of large Unitarian church in Washington DC during the 1960s, and her involvement in the March on Washington and protests against the Vietnam War. She talks about moving to Asheville in 1974 to take a degree in Appalachian Studies, and joining the Unitarian church in the city. She describes the church, its members, leaders and events, as well as her community activities, which included the Building Bridges and Opening Doors programs. She talks about adjusting to life in Asheville,and the racial differences between DC and western North Carolina.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Gladys Reese 

Interview Date and Interviewer

September 27, 2001 ; Jane Stearns

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Gladys Rees, who was 90 years old at the time of the interview, describes moving from Bucks County PA, to Sanibel, Florida, and then to Sherwood Forest, south of Brevard, NC, before relocating to Black Mountain. She explains how she joined the Unitarian church after moving to North Carolina, and goes on to talk about the ministers who were at the church, and how the church developed in the years that she attended. She talks about her husband, and how, as she was no longer able to walk, she could not attend church anymore.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Agnes Sanborn 

Interview Date and Interviewer

November 14, 2001 ; Jane Stearns

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Agnes Sanborn recounts how she and her husband originally joined the Unitarian church in Cleveland in 1945, and that they went the UU fellowship in Hendersonville when they moved to Etowah, but eventually joined the church in Asheville. In additional to talking about church activities, and the people who participated in them, she briefly mentions the demographics of Etowah, before discussing the different ministers.

Biography

Agnes Sanborn and her husband Charles moved from New Jersey to North Carolina in 1981, and after renting, built a house in Etowah, where they lived until 1986 when they moved to Highland Farms, in Black Mountain. Charles Sanborn died in 1994, and Agnes died in 2006, aged 94.

Additional Materials

Transcript ; biographic

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Henry and Virginia Sayles 

Interview Date and Interviewer

July 5, 2001 ; Bonny Habel

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Ginny Sayles talks briefly about her education, meeting Hank, and living in Corning, New York, before the couple retired, initially to Jekyl Island, Georgia, and then Western North Carolina. She describes joining the Unitarian church in Asheville, and the changing demographics in the church in the years since she joined. She talks about the personalities and the ministers at the church. Hank Sayles talks briefly about his involvement with the church.

Biography

Virginia [Ginny] and Henry [Hank] Sayles met when they were students at Cornell. Henry worked for many years in the legal department of Corning Glass. After they retired, they eventually settled in Western North Carolina. Henry Sayles died in 2004, and in 2006 Virginia Sayles moved to The Plains, Ohio, where she died in 2012, aged 99.

Additional Materials

Transcript part 1 ; transcript part 2 ; biographic

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Marilyn Takaro 

Interview Date and Interviewer

April 20, 1993 ; Bob Potter

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Marilyn Takaro discusses her experience growing up on a farm in Iowa, and talks about her mother's insistence on the value of a good education. She describes her nursing career, and her training at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, MN, where she met Dr. Tim Takaro, her husband. She discusses their experience living for three years in India, where her husband worked in a mission hospital. She talks about raising her children, and working nights while they were in college. She describes her civic activities and her involvement with the Unitarian Church.

Biography

Takaro spent her childhood to age 10 on a farm near Algona, Iowa. She entered nursing training to be useful in WWII, and a cadet nursing program paid for her training in exchange for wartime service. She was studying at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, MN when she met Tim Takaro, a doctor who became her husband. Later, they served on a mission in India under Presbyterian sponsors. They moved to Kenilworth in 1956 and Marilyn worked nights to help put her children through college at Dartmouth, Middlebury and Yale. She was a member of the League of Women Voters, worked on the McGovern campaign, and was involved in the Unitarian Women's Alliance. She worked on urology and nephrology wards at Mission Hospital, and died in 2014.

Additional Materials

Transcript ; abstract ; tape index ; biographic

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Timothy Takaro 

Interview Dates and Interviewer

January 27, 1993 and March 3, 1993 ; Bob Potter

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Timothy Takaro discusses growing up in Queens, NY, and describes his experience as the son of a preacher. He discusses his education and his interest in medicine, and describes meeting his future wife Marilyn during his training as a surgical assistant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He talks about his residency at Oteen, where he learned about chemotherapy treatments for TB patients, and describes his experience treating TB in India for three years, including the culture, religion and poverty of India. He discusses the hospital in Oteen, and talks about its connection with Duke. He describes the development of the lithotripter, the cardiac pump, and surgical staples. He describes his involvement with the Unitarian Universalist Church and discusses several of its key members. He discusses the collapse of the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe, describes his civic activities, and discusses his personal beliefs.

Biography

Timothy Takaro was born in Budapest, Hungary, and came to US at age 2. His father was a missionary to Hungarians in Manhattan - in the First Hungarian Reformed Church. When he was age 8, they moved to Flushing in Queens. A high school teacher helped him obtain a scholarship to Dartmouth, where he decided to study medicine. His pre-med was spent 2-years at Dartmouth, and 2-years at NYU. He met his wife, Marilyn in the operating room at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He was an assistant in surgery, his wife in nursing training. He did his residency in Oteen, where he learned chemotherapy for TB. He went to India with his wife and their two older children for three years to treat TB. Upon his return from India, he joined the Unitarian Church, and served as president during the tenure of Rev. Gross.

Additional Materials

Abstract ; tape index ; biographic ; clippings

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Randall Thompson 

Interview Date and Interviewer

March 2, 2001 ; Bonnie Habel

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Randall Thompson relates his administrative work with the church, under the ministry of Tracy Pullman who began the process of building a new building. He describes the growth of the church, and the people he met. In addition, Thompson talks about his career as a medical doctor, and his experience of Unitarianism before moving to Asheville.

Biography

After living in India for seven years, Randall Thompson and his wife, Lois, moved to Asheville, and joined the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville in 1972. Thompson had been working with the National Institutes of Health in the Food for Peace program. He had a doctorate from Johns Hopkins in microbiology, and an MD from the University of Chicago. Thompson served on the church Board of Trustees for two years and was President for two years.

Additional Materials

Transcript ; biographic

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Claudette Diana Reed Upton 

Interview Date and Interviewer

February 10, 1993 ; Bob Potter

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Claudette Upton discusses her education, her interest in languages, and her experience working as a freelance editor. She discusses segregation and racial tensions in the area, and describes her involvement with the Student Committee on Racial Equality at Enka High. She also discusses the prejudice against Blacks that she encountered in her travels with the Liberal Religious Youth. She describes her experiences of the Unitarian Universalist Church in her youth, and discusses the ways in which her parents taught her to have respect and tolerance for all religions. She discusses several key people in the UU church, and describes her interest in one particular Sunday School class. She describes her college experience at Duke University, as well as her personal views and beliefs.

Biography

Claudette Upton grew up in West Asheville, and attended David Millard Middle School and Enka High School, At Enka, she was involved in the Student Committee on Racial Equality, and she was also active in the Liberal Religious Youth, and the Unitarian Universalist Church. After graduation she attended Duke University where she studied English, and in 1978 she became a free lance science editor in Washington. She was later editor of a medical journal in Vancouver, before relocating to the Cayman Islands, where she died in 2009.

Additional Materials

Abstract ; tape index ; biographic

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Irene Walker-Harris 

Interview Date and Interviewer

February 28, 2001 ; Jane Stearns

Format

Text

Scope and Contents

Transcript (no audio available) of an interview in which Walker-Harris describes living in New Brunswick, her move to Asheville in 1953, joining the Unitarian church, and the people she met there. She then talks about moving to upstate New York, and Richmond VA., before moving to Hendersonville and reconnecting with the UUCA in 1977. She describes the changes in the church, as well as events in her personal life.

Biography

Irene Walker-Harris, her husband, and their son, Jeffrey, moved to Asheville, North Carolina in 1953. Although the family moved to New York and Virginia, they eventually returned to Western North Carolina. Following the death of her husband, Walker-Harris worked for the Legal Aid Service of the Buncombe County Bar Association as a legal assistant, and subsequently remarried.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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David Williams 

Interview Date and Interviewer

June 15, 1993 ; Ruth Shatto

Format

Audio cassette tape ; copy CDs ; photographs ; text

Scope and Contents

David Williams discusses his move to Asheville and his involvement with the Unitarian Universalist Church on Vermont Ave. He mentions key figures in the church and describes their roles. He discusses significant events in the church's history, and offers his own ideas for future development, and the church's role in society. He discusses his experience running a catering service with his former wife, Marion Stivers, and describes his involvements in the community.

Biography

Williams moved to Asheville in 1961 with his wife, Marion Stivers, and their two children. He and his wife joined the Unitarian Church on Vermont Ave. not long after their arrival in Asheville, and he remained very active with the church. After buying property on Lookout Road, he and his wife operated a catering service. David Williams died in 1999, aged 81.

Additional Materials

Abstract ; tape log ; biographic ; photographs ; obituary and other clippings

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Augusta Young 

Interview Dates and Interviewer

August 23 1993, August 30 1993, and 14 September 1993 ; Bob Potter

Format

Audio cassette tapes ; copy CDs ; photographs ; text

Scope and Contents

Augusta Young discusses her experience growing up in Memphis, and describes the effects of the Depression. She describes her education and her involvement with the Unitarian Church in Asheville, and discusses Unitarian minister Dan Welch and his wife. She also mentions several other members of the Unitarian church, and describes its development through the years. She talks about her theatre experience in college, as well as later in her life, and describes various plays that she directed. She discusses her involvement in Asheville affairs, and how her interest in preventing a development in Kenilworth led to her appointment to the Planning and Zoning Board of the city.

Biography

August Young was born in Memphis, Tennessee, where she lived until she left to attend college at Randolph-Macon in Virginia. She majored in psychology, and met her husband, Paul Young, in Baltimore in medical school. She and Paul moved to Asheville, and became involved with the Unitarian Church in 1957. She taught Sunday School to junior high boy, and was involved in a lunch counter integration by the League of Women Voters, Unitarians and Episcopalians, which took place at Woolworth's on Patton Ave. She was been involved in theatre as a designer, costumer, and director, as well as working with children's theatre. She also served on the Asheville Planning and Zoning board. Young died in 1996, at the age of 72.

Additional Materials

Abstract ; tape index ; photographs of Augusta Young, and Bob Potter ; obituary and photocopy of photo page

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