Remembering those we have lost this year

Khoren Arisian

Khoren Arisian, Humanist Leader, passed away peacefully after a dignified battle with dementia. He was 88 years old. Influenced by his immigrant father who survived the Armenia genocide, Khoren used his great intellectual gifts to work passionately for human and civil rights throughout his career as a Unitarian Universalist minister (serving congregations in Iowa City, Sarasota and Minneapolis) and as Leader of the Ethical Cultural Societies in Boston and New York City. He was educated at Tufts University, Crane Theological School, Manchester College, Oxford, Starr King School of Ministry, and Harvard Divinity School. He received an honorary doctorate degree From Starr King in 1988.

Khoren, always a fierce defender of our democracy, courageously spoke out against McCarthyism, marched in Selma, co-founded the New York Society’s Prison Reform Task Force, co-founded the Humanist Institute for new humanist leaders, spoke out for LBGT rights, and created New York Society of Ethical Culture’s public political forums before and during the Iraq war. From the pulpit he was a classic preacher with a powerful voice that intertwined research information with elegant prose that inspired us to be our best selves. Khoren published hundreds of articles, edited professional journals, and wrote the well=known book, The New Wedding.

He leaves us wishing for another honest conversation full of wit, kindness and awe of all things beautiful…and of course a pint of Guinness.

Alison Friend Gansler

Alison Friend Gansler died on January 26, 2020 in Rockville, Maryland. She grew up in West Orange, New Jersey and graduated from West Orange High School and later Connecticut College. Alison moved to the DC area in 1972 and worked as a tour guide at the Kennedy Center, as a travel agent, and as a long-time substitute teacher in Montgomery County. Alison loved politics and volunteered at the polls on election day into her 80’s. She loved travel, museums, antiques, reading, spending time with friends…in short, she loved life. Alison was a long-time member of the Washington Ethical Society and sang in the chorus for over a decade. She will be missed.

Robert “Bob” Gordon

Bob Gordon, longtime active member of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County and AEU Board member, passed away on May 2. Leader Joe Chuman wrote, “He had the requisite knowledge and skill, and these efforts were a deeply reaching expression of his commitment to our meeting place—and to us.”

An avid traveler and skier, Bob loved creative writing and for years co-edited the Focus publication. Bob and his partner Azar envisioned and co-organized the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County’s 50th and 60th gala anniversary events at the Clinton Inn. He assisted Azar in major fundraising concerts and related projects on the community’s behalf. “Simply stated, their work and devotion on our behalf has been endless.”

Read more memories of Bob in the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County’s statement here.

Eva Harrington

Eva Harrington, who passed away on March 15, 2020, was a long-time member of the Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle.  Born in Vienna, Austria on July 4, 1921, she witnessed Hitler’s Anschluss in March, 1938, followed by the incarceration of her father and uncle in the Dachau concentration camp.  After their release in 1939, Eva and her parents immigrated first to England, then to the United States, arriving in 1940. 

She met her surviving husband, Ralph Balzac, at the Ethical Society of Northern Westchester in 1990.  They moved to North Carolina in 1994 and immediately joined EHST (then called the North Carolina Society for Ethical Culture).

Eva was an extremely bright and warm person, deeply committed to her community and to her work as a guardian ad litem.  She was very welcoming to visitors to EHST, resulting in several new members joining the society.  Trained as an accountant, she served many terms on the board as Treasurer, swapping duties with Ralph as the allowed length of service ended.  She and Ralph opened their home for many EHST events over the years, including an annual Thanksgiving potluck dinner for their EHST family. She is deeply missed by all those who knew her.

Edith Lenora Hobbs

Ms. Edith Lenora Hobbs was born August 5, 1939 in Protem, MO. Edith earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Missouri State and later Master’s Degree in Library Science from Mizzou. She worked as a librarian for the Fox C-1 School District, retiring in 1995 and later at the Kirkwood Library, retiring in 2001. Edith was a member of the Missouri Retired Teachers Society and the Mid Rivers Ethical Society, where she was a founding member. She authored some magazine articles and historical periodicals.

Richard “Dick” Reichart

Dick Reichart was the copyeditor for AEU’s newsletter and most resolutions. He was active in the Princeton, NJ group and also worked with Ethical Society Without Walls (ESWOW) when they existed. He was a longtime member of the AEU communications committee and an unofficial AEU historian. He will be missed.

Linda Waters Richardson

Linda Richardson passed away on November 2. She was a part of the Ethical Culture movement since the 1960s, served on the Board of the Philadelphia Ethical Society, and its Ending Racism Task Force and Leadership Search Committee. In August 2020, she was elected to the Board of the AEU. Her dedicated work on behalf of the movement not only demonstrated her commitment to Ethical Culture and Humanism, but also testified to her faith in the power of service, the power of ‘a’ people, and the power of change.

In addition to her work for the Ethical Culture movement, Linda was a powerhouse who leveraged the arts and cultural organizing for the betterment of the North Philadelphia community she so deeply loved. Driven by her passion for the arts and her commitment to working for social justice, she fostered the revitalization of the Uptown Theater and its surrounding area not as a personal project but as a communal enterprise highlighting the history, beauty, and talent of the surrounding community. Her work exemplified human ingenuity–re-imagining injustice, providing a platform of purpose, and empowering voices to be heard in the midst of socio-political adversity. A curator of culture and a revolutionary mother to her children and community, she nurtured future leaders and laid strong foundations that they may continue to build upon. Although we feel her loss keenly, her work was a beacon of hope that will endure.

Read more about Linda’s life and work in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Billy Pen, Generocity, Philly Voice, and The Philadelphia Folklore Project.

Rosalie Sussman

Rosalie Sussman, long time member of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County, died December 16, 2020 at the age of 88. Rosalie began her association with the Essex Ethical through the Friday evening group Health Awareness for Singles and became an active member over five decades serving on the Board and many committees. Rosalie was a talented and vivacious woman, professional seamstress and decorator, line and folk dancer, choral singer in Kol Dodi and the Solidarity Singers, and instructor of stitchery at Chautauqua Institution for a time. Rosalie was very proud of returning to college as an adult to complete her degree in Home Economics from Montclair State University. She also affirmed her Jewish identity through her promotion of the Yiddish language and culture and temple affiliation. She was pre-deceased by her son Brandon and is survived by her daughter Betsy, granddaughter Emily, and nieces and nephews. 

Frederick L Tuttle and Bruce M Tuttle

Frederick L Tuttle (5/21/1930 – 11/28/2020) and Bruce M Tuttle (12/14/1929 – 11/25/2020) died 3 days apart after spending nearly seventy years together. They leave behind their children, grand children, great grand children and many friends. Fred and Brucie were married on 6/11/1951 in Arlington Virginia. They were active members of the St. Louis Ethical Society for over fifty years. They led their lives with conviction and bravery. Brucie was a beautiful artist and the only person we know who could compete The New York Times crossword in the Sunday edition. Fred trained astronauts on simulators he programmed for McDonnell Douglass as part of the Gemini mission. Fred read Harry Potter books to Brucie up to the end. They will be missed.

Robert “Bob” Zingaro

After honorably serving in the United States Army, Robert returned to Chicago to work at O’Hare Airport for TWA as a customer service agent. It was this career that brought him to St. Louis where he was a fixture of the TWA and American C concourse for over 20 years. He was well known and loved by many travelers. He retired from his service with TWA/American after 44 years.

Bob had many passions in life, and among them was Operation Lift Off, a charity that helps provide “wish” vacations for critically ill children. He was able to organize golf tournaments for the organization for many years. He also was an active member of the Ethical Society Mid-Rivers. He was known as a kind and loving man always helping those who were in need.

Do you know a friend of Ethical Culture who passed away this year? Please send submissions of those to be memorialized on this page to