MAPLEWOOD, N.J. AND SORRENTO
Dr. Doris Anne “Dodie” Younger (June 30, 1924-Dec. 25, 2017), an ecumenical church leader and educator, died peacefully on Christmas Day in Livingston, N.J., at the age of 93. Dr. Younger, known as Dodie, was deeply connected to Downeast Maine, having spent 60 summers in Sorrento beginning in 1957.
From 1983-89, Dodie served as general director of Church Women United (“CWU”), a national ecumenical organization. While at CWU, she was active in shaping the role of women in the church around the world. In the late 1980s, she was arrested while praying for peace in Central America at the U.S. Capitol rotunda. Of her role at CWU, she stated, “We must be advocates for women who are hurting by building bridges of community and trust across barriers of age, class, marital status, theological position, educational level, employment, race and culture.”
From 1976-83, Dodie was executive director of American Baptist Women. About that position she wrote that, “It was my commitment to working for justice and my sense that it was God’s call … that gave me the courage to become an advocate for the place of laywoman in the church, and the emerging role of women as pastors.”
Following her retirement, Dodie served as a trustee of the New York Theological Seminary. During this period she also served as interim director for the Commission on Ministry of the American Baptist Churches and as a trustee of the Senior Friends of the World Student Christian Federation.
Earlier in her career, Dodie taught at Kennedy-King College in Chicago and was a founding faculty member at the Women’s Talent Corps in Manhattan, now the Metropolitan College of New York. The focus of her teaching was on training low-income, inner-city women so they could find employment in various fields.
Dodie was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.S.), Yale Divinity School (M.Div.) and New York Theological Seminary (D.Min.). She received the distinguished graduate award from Yale Divinity School, the Valiant Woman Award from CWU, the Luke Mowbray Ecumenical Award from American Baptist Churches USA and the Sower Award from NYTS.
Born in Allentown, Pa., Dodie’s parents were the Rev. W. Chester Hill, a Lutheran pastor, and his wife Esther. She was married for 52 years to the late Rev. Dr. George D. Younger, whom she met while they were both students at Yale Divinity School. They were married at the school’s chapel in 1949. During the summer of 1949 Dodie and George worked together in the Presumpscot Union Parish, preaching in its multiple churches and running vacation church schools and teaching youth groups. During their summers in Sorrento they worshipped for many years at the Sorrento Congregational Church whose minister was the late Rev. Margaret Hendrickson, the author of the book “Seven Steeples.” They later were active members of the Church of the Redeemer and loved to attend concerts at the Monteux School in Hancock.
Dodie is survived by her sister, Christine Killough of Chestnut Hill, Pa.; her children, Judith Laspesa of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., Dana Younger (Elizabeth) of Takoma Park, Md., Stephen Younger (Prudence) of New York, N.Y., and Samuel Younger (Liz) of Westfield, N.J.; 10 grandchildren, Stephen, Suzanne, Millicent, Willard, Matthew, Patrick, Coleman, Timothy, Paul, and Emery; and three great-grandchildren, Morgan, Trevor and Frank.
A memorial service is scheduled at the Glen Ridge, N.J., Congregational Church for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, and at the Church of the Redeemer in Sorrento on Saturday, July 14, at 10 a.m. The family requests that any memorial gifts be directed to: The George and Dodie Younger Scholarship Fund at New York Theological Seminary.