In Memoriam: Neil Gerdes

Submitted by Christine Wenderoth, Director of the JKM Library

Neil Wayne Gerdes, librarian and professor at Meadville Lombard Theological School from 1973 to 2013, and at Chicago Theological School from 1980 to 2013, passed away after a brief illness at the age of 73 on November 6, 2016. Neil was a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard Divinity School, and Columbia University. In addition, he received his library degree from the University of Chicago and a DMin degree from the University of St. Mary of the Lake. He was an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, an active member of the First Unitarian Church of Chicago for 30 years, and in more recent years, a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic parish as well. To honor his stewardship of UU rare books, Meadville Lombard’s named the collection the Neil Wayne Gerdes Rare Book Collection upon his retirement in 2013.

neil-gerdesNeil was active in ATLA, CATLA, and was one of the founders of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools [ACTS] Library Council.

As Lee Barker, President of Meadville put it, “Neil was Unitarian Universalism’s librarian extraordinaire. He was a wonderful mentor to students, a lover of books and information, a passionate spokesperson for tradition and academic protocol, an erudite conversationalist, a man of very goofy humor, and a champion for liberal theological education. His is a profound loss.”

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