The Rev. Dr. Richard H. Killough

The Rev. Dr. Richard H. Killough

Passed on Saturday, 04 July 2020
The Rev. Dr. Richard Killough died on July 4, 2020 surrounded by his family.  He is survived by his wife Jean; children Jay Killough and Ruthie Killough-Hill; daughter-in-law Marla Killough; and grandchildren Laurel and Faith Killough and Gabriel and Wesley Killough-Hill. 

He was born in West Point, MS, to his parents Lucile (Schulherr) and William H. Killough, his family quickly moved to St Louis, MO in order to get the immediate medical care needed toward his ultimate survival. Richard had other early health challenges, resulting even in his placement in a school for the deaf; from which he quickly graduated.

He and his sister Margie had many St. Louis homes, as their family moved frequently during the Depression and World War II years; often residing with their maternal grandparents in times of transition. As a teen, Richard returned home from summer work with the American Youth Foundation, Camp Miniwanca, MI, only to discover his parents had moved, unannounced. Growing up, Richard took the opportunity of involvements outside his home: academics, running track, singing, debate, his involvements at Pilgrim Congregational Church and his many jobs. He claimed self-sufficiency at the age of 11. He much missed his father who was stationed in the Arctic during WWII. Richard graduated high school as co-valedictorian at 16.

Richard furthered his education at the University of Missouri, graduating in three years with a double major in psychology and philosophy, also continuing his athletic interests. Over the next several years, he maintained his national ranking with the AAU as a half-miler. He went on to seminary at Andover Newton Theological School, meeting a fellow seminarian, Jean Davenport, the fall of 1948. Even with each being engaged to another at the time of their meeting, their relationship quickly became its own energy source. They married January 15, 1949, in Lexington, MA.

Richard and Jean moved to Milwaukee, WI, where he served as youth pastor while continuing his theological training at the University of Chicago. While there, Robin, their first-born, arrived in 1951. Shortly after though, Richard contracted tuberculosis, which required him to be hospitalized, and Jean and Robin to move in with his parents in St. Louis. Though his illness ended his running career, Richard healed quickly. The new family returned to Massachusetts that year, where Richard started his parish ministry at North Congregational Church, Winchendon, MA. There, Richard and Jean welcomed their two sons, Jay (Richard, Jr.) and Russell to their family.

In 1957, Richard served as delegate toward the formation of the United Church of Christ, at its first General Synod, held in Philadelphia. That summer, he moved his ministry as well as his family to the First Congregational Church, Whitman, MA. There, his ministry grew, as Richard became involved in the ecumenical church movement, including him further in many aspects of community involvement and service. Prior to his leaving Whitman in 1961, his and Jean's fourth and final child, Ruth, was born. His ministry with Olmstead Falls Community Church (OH), 1962 - 66, presented him the opportunities for deepening his preaching and broadening his social involvements, also advocating for Civil Rights.

Transition seeming something of a constant for him in those days, Richard moved his family for two years, 1966-68, to Scotland, as he started doctoral studies at St Mary's College, University of St. Andrews. There, his family got by, boarding many international graduate and undergraduate students. He completed his Ph.D. in Theology in 1973. Returning to the U.S. in 1968 in turbulent times, Richard moved his family again, being fortunate in securing a chaplaincy and teaching position at Drury College (now University), Springfield, MO, in the Ozarks. He remained there for 29 years, until his retirement, at full Professor. During that time, he participated in the Clergy Consultation Service, supporting and counseling young women around abortion, in a time before Roe v. Wade; started an inter-scholastic exchange with the HBCU, Grambling State College (now University), and initiated an international study-abroad program through Regents College, London.

Moving with Jean to Amherst, MA, in 1997, Richard was unsuccessful in his first attempt at retirement, finding a church home and pulpit needing his care at the Sunderland Congregational Church. During this time, he was also a founding member of the Chaplaincy Program at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Greenfield, MA, (the hospital of his wife's birth!) He enjoyed his ministry with the Sunderland Church for 11 years. Richard and Jean moved to their final home together, Loomis Village, in 2015. From the start of his and Jean's family life until Richard's final years, the family's yearly, summer return to the small and caring community of their Morse Island home, Friendship, ME, remained a place of grounding, connection, growth and a life of stories. He will be missed by the good people there, as well as across his many ministries.

Richard was a man of much caring and compassion, many relationships, and many words. He was thoughtful and genuine to a fault. As a teacher, he was known as challenging, but fair; always taking time for students and colleagues. As a pastor, he became part of a church's community, developing personal and professional relationships that he maintained throughout his years. His sermons were both theologically and real-worldly grounded; they had a way of traveling with you beyond the church doors. He was devoted to his family and particularly his wife Jean, in ways seldom seen. She was so much an equal partner in his many callings, relationships and involvements.

 A graveside service is at the discretion of immediate family, with the hope that a memorial service will be held in the not too distant future. 

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