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Nan and Bill Grow

Katheryn Nancy Cameron Grow

Oct. 23, 1928  –  Sept. 26, 2020

William Bradford Grow

February 22, 1934 – May 14, 2023

Here’s the link for a two page memorial program you can view on screen or print out:

You may also review the Zoom chat here:

In addition, here is a link to Nan’s work on ritual.

Dear Order Colleagues,

On behalf of Bill Grow, I am writing to let you know that my mother, Nan, suffered a large stroke on Thursday and died from it two days later. Our family gathered to be with her until the end and to support Dad. She was kept comfortable in hospice care and we prayed over her.

Nan would have turned 92 on October 23. I told my friends that she had been a missionary in Korea, a pastor’s wife and mother of four, a member of an ecumenical society that focused on community development as its mission, and a teacher who traveled throughout Asia and to Zambia and lived in Brazil. Along the way, she got her Doctor of Ministry degree and became a UCC pastor in Georgia and Florida. She lived a life of integrity, focused on acting out her faith. She loved poetry and language, and she played a wicked game of Scrabble.

It has been hard for Bill and Nan, as for so many others, to bear the isolation that Covid-19 has imposed. I am grateful that they were able to spend their August wedding anniversary visiting—socially distanced—with Marilyn and Joe Crocker.

Grace and peace to you,

Rebecca Grow

I am thinking now of Bill and Nancy Grow. They were always such a stabilizing and steady presence in  our community. It is with much pleasure that I pause to remember them.

          ~~  Sarah Buss



More on Bill’s life:

Dear Order Colleagues, Rebecca, Brad and Ian, It is with deep sadness that I learned this news, but rejoice that Bill’s passing was peaceful and painless.  I still see Bill and Nan the way they looked on August 16th, 2020 (during our months of being masked if inside) to celebrate their anniversary with a picnic on our front porch. This was just six weeks before Nan passed.  As always, Bill knew how to symbolize and remember the sacred family moments, even if this required a long, round-trip drive from Wallingford CT to Wells Maine.


Similarly, when Nan turned 80, Bill coordinated (long distance from York, PA) a grand birthday party at our home in West Newfield, ME, complete with a roast lamb dinner, lots of “Robbie Burns” poetry recitations, and the company of friends they knew in the greater Portland area.  Joe had just turned 80, and so advised Nan that the next 20 years were to be all about Contemplation.  Joe and I always looked forward to the Grow Family Christmas Letter — and I missed receiving it this year. It was always a masterpiece of poetry, annual history, prayer and music.


Speaking of music, I was honored when Bill invited me to join him and the Yale Alumni Chorus in its annual performance at Milton Academy, MA  back in the late 90s/early 00s.  He said, “You know, Marilyn, back in my day, there were NO women at Yale — so I got permission to invite a Smith Chamber Singers alumna, because we need strong altos.” Not surprisingly, the program was challenging : Brahms Liebeslider Waltzes.  I not only had to engage a neighbor to coach me in German pronunciation, but also took a few lessons to “recover my feminine voice”, having sung tenor for years in my local church choir.  I could never have declined such a generous and complimentary offer from Bill.


Bill’s passion for the renewal of the Local Church was palpable, even after our Turn to the World in 1972.  And yet he (always also with Nan) graciously flexed to the shift our Order/EI/ICA made to serve as the sensitive and responsive force for renewal in the world through extensive work with ITIs and HDPs and so much more.  I love the video Jim Wiegel shared about Bill’s testimony that “our methods give voice to the nobodies of the world.”


Finally, I was always deeply moved by Bill’s (and Nan’s) commitment to love, unconditionally, their four children.  Their grief at losing Cameron was profound; as was their love, respect and pride in Rebecca, Brad and Ian, and their six grandchildren.  I was blessed to know and come to love each of these four fine offspring as they were maturing, off and on, between 1968 and 1984 specifically, and since then as accomplished, gifted adults.Go gently into this blessed night, dear Bill — we love you

~~  Mari (and Joe) Crocker

Two wonderful memories I have of Bill Grow. First — his fantastic speech on local economic development at one of our U.S. community development projects.  Tremendous clarity and humor!! Second — We spent together a wonderful weekend in Fifth City teaching Old Testament to the kids. We were an enthusiastic and creative team — and just had a ball working together. A fantastic teacher who lived his life so well with Nan.  Such a great team in mission — even reaching out to the community they finally resided with — bringing out the stories of their life and honoring them til the end.

          ~~  Cynthia Vance


Bill and Nan introduced us to ‘Swamp Gravy,’ and to friends who came and worked with us in El Paso.  He transformed whatever he touched.

          ~~  Bill Schlesinger (He/Him) and Carol Schlesinger (She/Her)


Bill was a member of the Town Meeting Campaign in GA to do 154 TMs and assigned to the Facilitation teams. Bill ‘pinched’ every penny he could lay his hands on. He was saving money to celebrate Nan’s birthday by flying them to New York, attending the NY Met opera, night on the town and return to Chicago. He did it.  Go in peace colleague.

             ~~  Frank Knutson



Bill’s compassion, humility and lack of airs is one of the things I shall always remember about him. I was in the faculty when he was dean of one of our ITIs in India and it was such a great experience working with him then. My condolences to all his children and grandchildren.

          ~~  Dharmalingam Vinasithamby

          Dharma, Thank you for your compassionate recollection of Bill. I think of all the work he did, he and Nancy were proudest of the ITI’s. Not just for the outcomes that were delivered, but also for the personal and professional relationships that developed over that time. Cheers !   Regards, Brad Grow


When we were in the stage of writing the plan for the Richgrove project in California, Bill shared his creative plan for celebrating Nan’s 50th birthday.  We were blown away. That story marked me for life.  After that in every house I lived in, if someone turned 50, I made sure we did a magnificent celebration.  When Robert Rafos turned 50, the Tokyo house did a 50 hour celebration.  I am grateful to Bill for his courage, creativity and his demonstration of love for Nan.  It changed me.

          ~~  Joan Knutson


I was a sort-of Sabcho Panza to Bill during my two sojourns with Bill and Nan in Brazil. I am ever grateful for his insights, conversations and care. He even enlisted me to practice with him singing tenor in the Brazilian Bach chorale. Fortunately I didn’t have to perform.

          ~~  John Webster


So sorry to hear this news about Bill.  His care and compassion bloomed wherever he and Nancy were planted in such a variety of assignments and tasks, be it enablement, global assignment, the first and only US ITI, helping to develop Swamp Gravy in Colquit, or working with his retirement community.  He had a passion for the community and the arts (led the Millenium 2000 gathering workshop on this), loved music, and traveled internationally with the Yale Alumni Touring Choir.  He also worked to overturn the Citizens United decision.  He was passionate about and gave himself 100% to whatever he did, be it at the macro or micro level. We had the chance to visit them a couple of times in Colquit and also with their House Church when they moved back east. We give thanks for and celebrate the gift of Bill’s life and lift up our prayers for all his family and those whose lives he touched. Grace and peace ~

          ~~  Carleton and Ellie Stock



We are also saddened by the loss of Bill. Bill offered so much of himself to our order, the church and every community he was a part of.  His look of intensity was as striking as was his beautiful smile.  He and I (Louise) always had a connection to singing and great choral music.  His commitment to the Yale Chorus into his later years was inspiring and I appreciated his sharing with me his exercises to keeping the singing voice young. When he and Nan moved from Colquitt to York, PA, they joined our house church group.  As you might expect, they were integral to our existence as a group. We appreciated their studies, their witnesses, and their presence. I (Louise) worked most closely with Bill during the Millennium Connection 2000 conference.  He was heading up the strand on Community Arts.  It was a joy to meet and interview amazingly committed people to their communities, both locally and internationally.  One highlight of the life and blessing of Bill Grow’s life was attending the performance of “Swamp Gravy” at the Kennedy Center.  It truly was a transformative experience. Transforming hate, ignorance, and violence into singing, sharing, devotion and joy!  Love and joy to all,

          ~~  Jack and Louise Ballard


Bill Grow, one of my heroes with the Institute. It was like the summer of 72 and was at the 5th City Academy. Did a workday and put in a cement wall. Lots of digging and pouring cement and blisters. That night I was on kitchen duty, washing dishes. The next morning my blisters were all red and running a fever. Went to the hospital- wow, you have a terrible infection and need that hand operated on today but, unfortunately, we are all full up and would not suggest you go to the Cook County Hospital. Went back to 5th City. Bill Grow was on internal care assignment. He was amazing: he knew a 5th City polish doctor and off we went. The doctor immediately operated like on his desk- slit open my hand and wrung all this green infection stuff.  Bill saved my life and stayed with me for the next week making sure my hand survived. He was an amazing caretaker

          ~~  Dick Alton


With Bill’s death I experience the end of a generation, soon we all will be gone. Nine families* arrived  in Chicago the summer of 1966 to join the original families of the Faith and Life Community, college students, and others who had come in 1965. We were the result of the RS-1 and PLC courses taught across the nation in 1965. The Barleys came with 2 children ages 2 and 4, a car, a dog and a king sized sofa bed. Bill and Nan came with 4 children ages less than 8 months to 7. After a summer teaching in the preschool I was assigned to publications with Bill in the print shop. We had the full gamut from typesetting articles, layout of several publications, printing, collating, creating and adhering mailing labels for a mailing list in the thousands, and sorting and bagging the mailing to take it to the post office.  As Jim indicates Bill was a phenomenal colleague through it all, never complaining, always there for all night shifts of which there were many. It was a coming of age – of enlightenment – for all of us and for our young children.  I too remember the Grow family with fondness.

          ~~  Zoe Barley.         * Barley, Baringer, Grow, Hess, Hockley, Shinn, Wainwright, Zarht, and Zollars.


The first work assignment I had in Chicago was helping Bill, down in the basement printshop, to print and collate the edition of The Image that was printed on sort of cream colored paper.  He was steady, comfortable with uncertainties in life, and always on a quest, never stopping (he was there working in the printshop before I got there and still on it when I left at the end of the day. Judy and I visited Bill and Nan on one of our cross country jaunts and had a chance to listen to some of their stories.  Our dogs met, as well.  Above is one of Bill’s reflections.

           ~~  Jim Wiegel