Carolina Barton (1962-2018)

Dr. Carolina Barton passed away in October of 2018 while visiting family in Germany. She was a passionate and steadfast advocate of the library, generous with her time, and was both a mentor and supportive friend to her staff and colleagues at Concordia University Irvine where she had been the Library Director since 2006.

Carolina earned her MA from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, an MLIS from Simmons Graduate School of Library & Information Science, and in May of 2018, became a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, from Concordia University Irvine. Her dissertation was selected by the American Libraries Association as a Notable Dissertation of 2019.

Carolina served on the SCELC Board of Directors, and was a member of SCATLA, the California Library Association, and the American Library Association.

Grant Bracewell (1928-2021)

The Reverend R. Grant Bracewell passed away on October 31, 2021, at the age of 93. He was born in Penticton, BC and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia. He was called to the ministry and did his Bachelor of Divinity at Union, BC, and was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada in 1955, serving as a minister in various communities. In 1967, he earned his Master of Library Science degree at the University of Washington, Seattle. Grant became the first Theological Librarian at Emmanuel College in the University of Toronto. He also became the Coordinator of the Toronto School of Theology libraries. In his work for Atla, Grant chaired the Index Board at the time of transition from the printed Index to Religious and Periodical Literature to what has today become the Atla Religion Database. He also organized the ATLA Annual Conferences in Toronto in 1983 and 1991.

Ministry and academia were Grant’s two passions. His service continued into his retirement where he volunteered at the United Church Archives in Vancouver.

Judy Butler (1940-2019)

Judy M. Butler served as the Circulation/Instruction Librarian for Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee from 1989 until her retirement in 2006. During her long career, Judy also served on the Tennessee Library Association Library Instruction Roundtable and Board of Directors, as well as President of the Nashville Library Club.

During her many years in the circulation role at Beaman Library, she was meticulous and accurate in her work habits. Her co-workers found her to be the ultimate professional in working with library patrons, and she was a wonderful teacher. She will be missed by her family and friends in the world of books.

Virginia Leach (1924-2021)

Virginia Leach was a graduate of McGill University and Wycliffe (Theological) College at the University of Toronto. While a student at Wycliffe, she met her future husband, Bill Leach. They married in 1955. Their union in life led to an amazing partnership in various spiritual care roles in Massachusetts, Lakefield, and Toronto, Ontario. He was the Chaplain at Lakefield College School, the Director of Hospital Chaplains, and she was a respected theological librarian at Wycliffe College. She demonstrated an intense interest in the daily life of the staff and students at Wycliffe and was honored there by being made a Fellow. Leach had a wonderful gift for languages -- fluent in three or four. She had a lifelong enthusiasm for travel, the outdoors, philanthropy, and her membership within the Anglican Church, and combined all those with a love of gardening, flowers, color, the arts, and music, particularly opera. Leach died peacefully at The Claremont retirement residence in Toronto in her 98th year with her brother, Geoffrey Beatty, by her side.

Melody McMahon (1957-2021)

Melody Layton McMahon was born December 25, 1957 in Tulsa, Oklahoma to Conrad and Beverly Layton. In 1982, she married Michael McMahon, and they had two children, Maeve and Niall. Melody graduated from the University of Oklahoma where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music, Columbia University where she received her Master of Science in Library Service, and St. Mary’s Seminary where she completed a Master of Art in Systematic Theology. Over the course of her career as a librarian, Melody worked at The Julliard School in New York, before directing the library at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She also worked at John Carroll University’s Grasselli Library before becoming the director of the Paul Bechtold Library at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Melody was elected to the Atla Board of Directors in 2012 and served as Vice-President in 2013. She served at CTU as the library director from 2008 until her retirement in 2017.

Melody was both a talented musician and a dedicated librarian who saw her library work as her vocation. She was an evangelist for open access scholarship and publishing, who used her keen editing skills on the editorial boards of the journals New Theology Review and Theological Librarianship. Melody wrote the book, Enthusiasm for the Word: Life and Work of Fr. Simeon Daly, OSB, co-edited A Broadening Conversation: Classic Readings in Theological Librarianship, and edited several other books. Melody was a Catholic convert, who took her faith very, very seriously and saw it as part of her identity. She was a bridge between the Catholic Library Association and Atla, as well as a generous mentor to people interested in theological librarianship.

Carisse Berryhill mentioned, “I cherished her merry and generous spirit and am annually reminded of her great contributions to the American Theological Library Association when I assign readings from A Broadening Conversation, edited with David Stewart, to my students.”

Melody died December 13, 2021, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was 63.

Art Merrill (1930-2022)

Arthur L. Merrill, of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, died January 14, 2022. Born in 1930 to missionary parents in India, he lived a full life that included a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Chicago University, with post-doctoral study at Uppsala University, the Ecumenical Theological Institute in Jerusalem, as well as the Albright Institute for Archeological Research. Ordained in 1954, Art felt the call to teach and began his career as Professor of Exegetical Theology, Old Testament at Mission House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin. In 1962 he was one of the founding faculty of the newly created United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, where he was Professor of Old Testament until his retirement in 1995; Art was the Director of Library Services at United from 1983-1995. During his tenure as director, he shepherded the library through technological advances and system migrations as well as a major renovation of the library’s physical space. An avid stamp collector and Bridge player, Art also took great delight in a life-long project of cataloging Byzantine mosaics at archeological sites throughout Israel.

Donald Mitchell (1959-2020)

I am honored but also a little sad remembering my friend Donald Mitchell.

Donald and I first met as recently appointed College Librarians at a conference in 1990. We shared an enthusiasm for academic librarianship, an interest in library computerization (we both used the same Library Management System), a shared faith, an absolute belief in Library ‘customer care’ and we both had married Welsh girls. We met up every two years, attended meetings of our LMS, communicated frequently by phone and later email and looked forward to meeting in person at academic library conferences and later at ABTAPL.

What was Donald like? He was very proud of his Scottish ancestry, and many will remember him wearing his kilt and full Scottish rig at Conference dinners! He was a man of enormous faith, funny with a wonderful sense of humor, loved life and his family of whom he was very proud, he enjoyed friendship, loved helping others both at work and outside work and reveled in the family life of his wife Sian and daughters Hannah, Eluned, and Sirol. Having recently retired, we discussed the pros and cons of retirement with Donald determined to keep going doing the things he loved until he was 70. Sadly, it was not to be. In the words of Donald’s obituary from the Union School of Theology ‘Donald was a godly man, faithful to Christ, and a friend to all who knew him. He was a much loved and important part of the Union family’. We, his ABTAPL ‘family’ miss him and remember him with fondness and gratitude for a life well lived.

Jon Purcell. Librarian Emeritus. Durham University. UK

Kenneth Rowe (1937-2021)

With the death of the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Rowe, Methodist history grieves the loss of a voice that sought to ever-expand the Methodist narrative. He was a renowned librarian, archivist, bibliographer, editor, historian, and scholar. A two-time graduate of Drew University (B.A. 1959 and Ph.D. 1969), of Yale University (B.D. 1962), and of Rutgers University (MLS 1970), Rowe’s scholarship placed Drew University as one of global Methodism’s most important research institutions. The author or co-author of 14 books, including the 2-volume Methodist Experience in America (2010), he also played a crucial role in advancing others’ scholarship on Methodism. He was the driving force in bringing the General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church to Drew University, helping to establish the United Methodist Archives and History Center in Madison, NJ. Along with raising funds to bolster the center’s collection, Rowe became widely recognized as the premier bibliographer of Methodism. He founded Atla’s Bibliography Series and for Methodist history wrote the “Methodist Union Catalog,” tracing the expansive nomenclature of denominational writings. Rowe was an important advocate for archiving LGBTQ+ history in the United Methodist Church and supported the rights of gay members in both his professional and personal life. Rowe died on Oct. 8, 2021, at age 84, in New Bern, North Carolina, where he lived in retirement with his husband, James Sawyer.

Norman G. Wente (1931-2021)

Norm Wente was director of the Luther Seminary Library from 1968 until his retirement in 1996. He was born on January 24, 1931, in Waterloo, Iowa. He graduated from Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, in 1953 and received the M.Div. degree from Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, in 1957. He earned his library degree at the University of Illinois in 1967, and the Specialist Certificate in Library Science at the University of Minnesota in 1983.

In the mid-1970’s Norm oversaw the merger of the libraries of Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary with Luther Theological Seminary as a precursor to the official merger of the two seminaries in 1982.

Norm was an active member of Atla, the Minnesota Theological Library Association, the Lutheran Historical Conference, and the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference. He also was the local chair and coordinated arrangements for the Eighth International Luther Congress on the Luther Seminary campus in 1993. A major accomplishment during Norm’s tenure was the creation of the Rare Book Room, a beautiful space containing the library’s special collections designed to resemble a medieval scriptorium. He was also instrumental in establishing the Lutheran International Library Assistance Project, with funding from the Lutheran World Federation, to send donated books to seminary and Bible school libraries in developing countries.

International travel and flowers were two of Norm’s particular passions. He studied at the Jerusalem Ecumenical Institute for Advanced Theological Research at Tantur and served as a consultant to libraries at the Faculdade Teologia, São Leopoldo, Brazil and in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia. A greenhouse attached to his home enabled him to grow and supply flowers, especially orchids, for special occasions year-round. He was an active member of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. In retirement Norm loved time spent with his wife, Myrna, at their cottage on Green Lake in Spicer, Minnesota.