We held a moving memorial to Fred at “4750” by the locals) on Saturday. The memorial was held in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Room. How appropriate since Fred was very involved in the civil rights movement and was even jailed once with Dr. King in Albany, GA, in 1962.
Fred’s history goes very deep in the life of ICA. (At many levels it will always be the Order or EI for me, but I have come to understand the evolution that has occurred and our place in history now goes forward as ICA. I learned so much more about this history last weekend.) He joined the Christian Faith and Life Community at the University of Texas in Austin in 1956. His roommate in the community was Don Warren. Don Warren’s wife was part of the women’s branch of the Community and both Don and his wife were among the original six families that came to Evanston in 1962 to become the Ecumenical Institute of Chicago.
Don was the lead liturgist at the memorial service. He also gave an unexpected, extensive eulogy at the end of the service as he was not listed on the order of service to do a eulogy. Other eulogies were given by Kaze Gadway (I learned that the name Kaze was how children in some country in which she served pronounced Kay Hayes), Lindsey Buss and Paul Schrijnen. Bettina said a Buddhist prayer on behalf of Meta Karuna (formerly Elizabeth Buss and presently a Buddhist nun). Charles Hahn was the other lead liturgist.
They were surrounded by a could of witnesses including Doris Hahn, Patrick Moriarity, Marsha Hahn, Jim and Karen Troxel, Charles Lingo, Joyce Townley, Laura Spencer, Terry and Pam Bergdall, Frank Knutson (formerly Bob Knutson), Paul Noah, Marge and Paula Philbrook, Sally Fenton, Carol Pierce, Dick Alton, friends of Lindsey, Karen Sims, Roy Stansbury and many others.
Following the service, we went to the 6th floor Guild Suite where sat in a circle and told stories of Fred. Apparently Fred was better than anyone at doing the sex section of the Missional Family course. Lindsey inquired whether he should leave the room while this was being discussed. Paul recounted that Fred’s frequent greeting when he was in Australia around 1968 was “Are you keeping despair at bay?” I reported that he advised priors of religious houses when giving their reports in Chicago should imagine themselves as German commanders giving reports of progress on the western front during the last days of World War II.
Following the conversation, au d’oeuvres and fellowship, many of us then went to Fifth City to spread Fred’s ashes on the playground behind the Fifth City Pre-School. When the preschool began in Fifth City, EI obtained a grant for playground equipment. Fred found a rocket ship/slide he wanted for the playground. He insisted that the rocket ship be part of the equipment, was overruled at least twice, he agreed to let it go, and then put it in the budget anyway. Allegedly Fred said, “Lincoln has his memorial, Grant has his tomb, and I have my rocket ship.” Now Fred rests under it. It is still part of the Fifth City Preschool. (Fred had two pictures on his wall at his death. One was of the rocket ship. Kaze Gadway wrote Zoom, Zoom Astronaut in honor of the slide.)
While in Fifth City we encountered Ray Fox, the son of Lilly and Ray Fox, now 50 and just back from serving in Iraq. How wonderful it was to talk with him. He was pleased also. The Iron Man still stands. The Program Center stands . . . empty and abandoned. Many of the buildings we knew have been cleared and there are vacant lots now—with grass. Fifth City is less dense, or so it seemed. It abides. 341 Trumbull has been tuck pointed and is ready to stand for another 100 years. The Bethany Brethren Hospital occupies the ground of the EI campus.
On a personal note, I went to this memorial because Fred and Al/Charles Lingo sustained me more than any other people during my years on the Westside in Chicago. I wasn’t very aware of Fred’s flaws. He was one of my heroes. He embodied the risen man to me–the best of EI for he brought life, abundant life to others. He was that part of Christ who was the Lord of the Dance—and we did sing this during his memorial. The Spirit lives.
~~ Herman Greene
Thanks, Fred, for the Fun and for the Memories
I want to go to the heaven where Fred is now; mostly because with Fred there it will be a fun place to be. In his time with us, he saw the humor in the every day, and he was ready to laugh at the ridiculous, the mundane and at himself. It is hard for me to remember Fred without smiling.
I remember him greeting my parents as they arrived in 5th City to prepare for our wedding. Fred made Mom and Dad feel at home…..even though there was absolutely nothing in the environment that was familiar to them. Fred was able to explain that there would be a lovely dinner in which we would be asked some very good questions to set our new family out on the right foot. He also explained that a former gymnasium would be the setting of the ceremony and that there would be two other couples being wed at the same time. There would be over 50 people setting up for the ceremony, cooking for the celebration breakfast, and hosting the guests. Mom and Dad could concentrate on having a great time. Fred had just the right words for the occasion.
I remember that it was Fred who had the idea that over 100 of us living at the Ecumenical Institute in 5th City should have a celebration weekend at the Palmer House in downtown Chicago. We needed a break, so why not have one at the Palmer House? Fred was not afraid to think big. More importantly, he and the fund development team, figured out how to have the Palmer House give us a gift. To add to the style of the occasion, Fred and team also arranged for a limousine service to pick us up as we emerged from the subway and drive us several blocks to the hotel. Remember, “We are supposed to be able to walk with kings while living in the communities where we are working..” Fred was good at the “walk with kings part”. He was able to connect our work with those in circles of power in many parts of the world.
Thank you, Fred, for the fun and the memories. Save me a place in the heaven where you are. It will be a fun place to be.
~~ Elise Packard
I did not have a lot of contact with Fred Buss, but he holds a spot on my fund raising meditative council along side George Lawson who took me to Texas in 1972 for a month to school me in the nuts and bolts of individual visits.
Fred, had just an amazing sense of being able to ask for what was needed and helping others see how they could meet that need…he might have been fun to be around but he was very serious about the ask.
I went to Brussels in 1986 to work on global fund raising. I started going to the International Protestant Church of Brussels because my daughter’s softball coach was the pastor and most of the girls were from the Church.
One morning before Church, a lady turned to me and we started chatting. It turned out she was the Chair of the Mission Committee. She asked me what I did and I said I worked for ICA. The lady looked startled. “Do you know Fred Buss from Egypt?” Yes, I do.
Well, it turns out that Fred had called up the church and asked to speak to the mission committee and was given an appointment. Fred gave the committee an overview of the El Bayad Project with the goals and strategies from the consult. They were fascinated and charmed. Then Fred said I need to ask you for $300,000 to implement this great plan. Well the committee was stunned. We only have a budget of $25,000 and it is all committed.
Fred, proceeded to explain how important this project was and could understand how little the Church had but that was only one source of funds. He then suggested that they take out mortgages on their houses.
You could tell the lady was still stunned by Fred’s audacity, although they did not sell their houses.. so Fred sits on my council reminding me to be bold and to ask for more than the other considers possible.
~~ Dick Alton
I only knew Fred by reputation, and by the three weeks of Summer 69 in Australia, at the Nunyara Conference Centre in Belair, a hillside suburb of Adelaide, South Australia: January 1969. Fred and Sarah, Bill and Barbara Alerding, and Joe and Carol Pierce were the US members of the faculty. I do remember being so awestruck (maybe intimidated, too) by Fred’s talk at a mealtime for the advance party that I did not bother to clean up my spilt cup of tea (into my lap), and put up with it until the mealtime was completely over. Many of us remember Sarah calling out “Fred” in a voice similar to Fred Flintstone calling out “Wilma”.
Also at that program were Garnet and Lis Banks, John and Robyn Hutchinson, Jonathan and Janeen Barker, Margaret Piper, David and Sue White, Raymond Spencer, Barry and Margaret Oakley, Brian and Rhonda Robins, John and Gwenda Rees, Ian and Katrin Ogilvy, Ken and Maisie Maher, Bruce and Helen Martin, Dean and Judy Eland, Brian and Helen Philips and many more who were involved with EI/ICA in Australia for various stretches of time over later years.
Some may remember Summer ’69 participants Arthur Jackson, then President of the Methodist Conference in South Australia, and Dean Drayton, later President of the Uniting Church in Australia. At the time Dean was a student minister at Arthur’s assignment, Westbourne Park Methodist (now Uniting) Church. Arthur and Dean were responsible for a lot of that congregation (including me) doing RS-I in 1968. In those days almost all the Methodist clergy in South Australia (and lots of others) experienced RS-I and/or PLC. After S/69 there was a parting of the ways for many people – Jim Bishop can tell the story better, as he did at the Academy in Sydney in Sep-Nov 1972.
During S/69 we attended Westbourne Park Methodist on one of the Sundays. Fred gave the sermon. I remember the stir when “prayers for the world” were requested as part of the liturgy, and Dean Eland said “We pray for the National Liberation Front of North Vietnam” – putting into practice the idea of praying for one’s military and political enemies!
~~ Frank Bremner
It is one of the greatest privileges of our lives to have known Fred. He combined the roles of guru, jester, bon vivant and loquacious story-teller. Above a man of faith. He was a remarkable combination of wisdom and humour (a rare combination!). Someone was wise enough to include him on the assignment to Australia in 1967-68 for he could win over Australians like no other. Fred along with Sarah (with Elizabeth and infant Lindsey) was assigned with Don Clarke to criss cross the country to spearhead the quarterly teaching program. Fred often came to Perth and stayed with us. Then there was Chicago 1969 and a great catching up in Vail in 2000. The following is only a small sample of our memories of Fred.
* Insisting that he would only stay at one place because that was what Jesus instructed.
* Always eager for the first hand experience e.g. on a trip to Port Hedland insisting that we go inland 250 KMS to Nullagine to meet Aboriginal people who had come in from the desert for the first time. Also on that trip meeting with Don McLeod the Communist leader of the first strike of Aboriginal stockmen in the 1940’s who was astounded that an American would talk with him.
* Enabling tongue-tied Australians to use their voice.
* The well remembered PLC at Kalamunda; attended by an Anglican Bishop and his reluctant clergy – Fred gave them hell much to the approval of Bishop Rosier; the longest lecture introduction ever based on Kierkegaard’s defiance vs faith; and then having to endure most of Clavell’s “Taipan” read out loud every night of the course.
* Being unable to cope with the Australian insistence of having fresh air in their homes even in the middle of winter.
* Addressing students of the University of Western Australia on the topic of Freedom without telling anyone that it was based on the Bonhoeffer paper. (John Burbidge organised this!)
* Always critiquing and affirming would-be pedagogues – for us, the best mentor ever.
* Enjoying dining out – including mutual birthday celebrations. While he introduced us to new drinks such as Whiskey Sour we introduced him to the best Australian wines!
* Could greet you with “Still keeping despair at a distance?”
* No one else taught the Individual and Family Course like Fred did. The traditional Marriage service took on entirely new meanings.
We are profoundly thankful for Fred and remember him as a free man, who plumbed the depths, glimpsed his shortcomings, his mortality and the Mystery but decided to laugh at life for it is good. His voice unfailingly echoes in our meditative council!
~~ Jonathan and Janeen Barker
One could not help but note the heart-felt responses of gratitude for the life and dying of Fred Buss. Affirmations glowed in their response. Oh Yes, some took a punch or two. Behind it all we begin to see peoples perspective of, or projection on, Fred. But that is the purpose of the Memorial Service. It is the “jazz of life” of the whole Fred that is celebrated. However, It does not stop there. The life of each of us—our ‘jazz’ (‘warts and all)— is engulfed in celebration. And let us not forget that such a celebration also includes the grandeur of the ‘aches and pains’—‘goods and bads’ of the whole of creation. May the service be an ecstasy of Hallalujahs (the praise of What Is). One Love that engulfs us all.
~~ Joe Slicker
It is not an exaggeration to say that there wouldn’t be an ICA without the contributions of Fred Buss. As an undergraduate student in Austin, Texas, it was Fred who was instrumental in bringing Joseph Mathews to the Christian Faith and Life Community. This set the stage for Mathew’s eventual appointment as Dean of the Ecumenical Institute in Evanston in 1962, an event that we will mark next year, 2012, as our Fiftieth Anniversary. I have heard it said that Joe always thought of Fred as the first member of the Order Ecumenical.
~~ Terry Bergdall
It was 1967 in Cleveland that Sandra and I found ourselves in a church basement feted with cold peas and fish sticks, hearing about pigs and persons. What the hell did we get ourselves into? Who were the two strange dudes, Fred Buss and Bob Vance, and what were they up to? After a stirring weekend and riveting Church lecture on Sunday by Fred we were ready to charge out the door. The two of them opened us up to a whole new world. I am forever grateful to Fred and can still call up the image of him that Sunday A.M. In 1970 we spent a year in the NY house as second priors to Fred and Sarah. What a glorious time to experience all of the
gifts and neuroses of Fred. Looking back now I think of all the people and experiences I would have missed saved for that Church lecture. In gratitude for a life well lived and his service to humanity. Blessings and peace on the next stage of your journey Fred.
~~ Sandra and Bob Rafos
Way back in 1965 Fred Buss and Don Warren opened a window in my mind that let in the possibility of theological thinking. I’ve never been the same since. I’m sure that is true for many minds around the globe. All the influence he continued to play in my life and my thinking are too numerous to write down. Some people are so important in many people’s life journey that it is hard to imagine them gone. I hope he and Rodney are sharing stories…if they aren’t then there is something wrong with heaven. Grace and peace to all,
~~ Priscilla Wilson
Fred was the Lord of the Dance to me. He brought levity to my life. Just to see him lifted me up. And yes, his words had multiple meanings. I never noticed how long he spoke, I was enjoying myself too much. He changed my life.
~~ Herman Green
Considering Fred’s life, an appropriate memorial is no small task! Among his other memorable traits, Fred’s love of the spoken word was legendary. He never failed to search for the most unexpected way to say something, and often succeeded in conveying multiple levels of meaning without the constraint of brevity. I once witnessed Fred giving a 90-minute lecture from notes which consisted of four words on a page. That lecture changed lives. He now joins and enriches that great cloud of witnesses from whom we
continually draw inspiration, insight, and sustenance. We’re grateful to have known this giant of spirit. Grace & Peace.
~~ John Epps
Fred interpreted our work to August VanIstendal, a prominent Roman Catholic who was head of an European organization VanIstendal had powerful influence in Catholic circles across Europe and opened many doors for us. The most significant thing I remember was that he arranged for us to do a presentation to the gathering of Superiors General of the men’s Catholic Orders at a Jesuit retreat center just outside Rome. As I recall, this was an every three years meeting. Brian Williams and I went from the Brussels Nexus for the event, and decided that Brian should do the presentation. When we arrived at the event we were overwhelmed. There was this large hell with perhaps 250 Superiors seated at dinner tables, and we were seated at the head table with five or six Cardinals and Father Arupe, Jesuit Superior (also popularly called the Black Pope).
We dined on a sumptuous dinner and as the meal was ending , nuns who had been serving began to clear the tables. Father Arupe got up from his head place at the table and went down to the floor level and began to assist with the clean-up. This caused a little stir among the other Superiors and a few got up and also helped. This is just a little glimpse of the humble and powerful leadership Arupe gave the Jesuits. Brian did a great presentation, and because of Fred through VanIstendal we raised a ton of money for our Human Development Projects from Catholic orders in Rome over the next several years. Fred opened dorrs to powerful people.
~~ Charles Hahn
I just finished talking to Guy Wilkinson. He was as a Civil Servant at the European Union at the time when Fred and Sarah were in Brussels. Guy was inspired by Fred and Sarah to join the Bayad consult and then was instrumental in raising money from the European union for that project. He later became an Anglican priest, did much innercity work in various parishes, and then became the Archbishops’ assistant on Interfaith issues.
I just talked to Alan Beresford. It was Fred who asked him what he was going to do with his life. We know Alan’s response. It was Fred who changed my life. Fred inspired people to engage in the world in brave, new ways. And then he became my mentor and a good and loyal friend over all these years. I miss him,
~~ Paul Schrijnen
Fred was one of the first people on campus I met when we finished the Urban Academy in Teutopolis, IL in 1969. Even before we had fully unloaded the car, Fred took me off to the side and overwhelmed me with a fantastic assignment in the new Permeation Guild. Of course I didn’t have the remotest idea what he was talking about but it sure sounded like a neat place to be assigned. The new Permeation Guild would be the “eyes and ears of the Order” as we went out into the working world and plied our new skills that we learned from RS1. As we gathered in the gymnasium for a “brief” comment from Fred, I was really inspired as he told about his experience “working out” as a journeyman while loading boxcars and trucks at some warehouses in Chicago. I was in awe thinking this great prior had actually worked in such hard and uncomfortable circumstances. He told that in this environment his access to other blue collar workers gave him an opportunity to present short courses that changed lives! From that time on until we left the Order in ’79 I was a Permeator with a very good job with very good income.
Many years later as some of us gathered together to rebuild Kaze’s house in Arizona, I caught up once again with Fred. I told him what an inspiration he was when he told about his work loading boxcars. He looked at me and said, “I never loaded any boxcars–where did you get that idea?” “From your talk to the Permeation Guild back in 1969.” At that moment I learned with Fred it was never the reality of the content but the story being told that had the power to change lives.
~~ Jim Baumbach