Robert L. Hadley (1928 – 2012)

Offered by Rev.  David Hunter
UURMaPA Conferences February and October, 2019

Rev. Robert L. Hadley died in 2012, at the age of 84.  Hadley was born in Leominster, Massachusetts.  He graduated from Yale University in 1950.  He went on to attain a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Harvard Divinity School in 1956 and, 21 years later, a Master of Sacred Theology from Boston University School of Theology.

He was ordained in 1956 by the First Congregational Society in Leominster, Massachusetts, a Unitarian congregation.  For the next 31 years he was the minister for the First Church Unitarian in Littleton, Massachusetts.  Then, from 1987 to 1991, he served as minister of the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Perrysburg, Ohio, and from 1991 to 1994, he served as minister of the Universalist Meeting House in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  Lastly, he served as minister of the First Parish Church in Fitchburg, Massachusetts from 1995 until his retirement in 2002.

Scott Alexander wrote recently that “Bob was serving our congregation in Pittsfield, Massachusetts when he came out as a gay man.  He later moved to Provincetown to serve the Universalist Meetinghouse, and was my minister for several years there.  He met his partner (Jimmy Sullivan) there, and after his retirement they moved to Fort Lauderdale.”  However, neither the church history of the Pittsfield UU Church website nor the UURMaPA obituary of Hadley mentions his having any time of service to the Pittsfield church.

Committed to the denomination, Bob served as:  a member of the UUMA’s Member Insurance Committee from 1974-1977; a Ministerial Settlement Representative in the Massachusetts Central District from 1982-1985; and a member of the UUA AIDS Task Force from 1985-1986.

Throughout his life, he was also heavily involved in his communities.  He served as president of the Central Middlesex Mental Health Association from 1974-1977.  He was also a founding member of the Emerson Hospital Hospice, and served on its board from 1978-1981.

Those who knew Bob remember his love of nature and his passion for restoration.  He restored the gardens around a housing complex in which he lived during Hurricane Wilma.  He and Jimmy took on all of the costs and labor themselves, as well as the upkeep afterwards.  They also restored a historic, landmark house and garden in Provincetown.  Bob once referred to his garden as “an expression of God.”

David Hunter

After 20 years as an active member of the UU Church of Arlington, VA, and 25 years as a voting rights lawyer in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, I went back to school to study for the UU ministry, interning with the UU Congregation of Princeton, and graduating, in 2003, from Wesley Theological Seminary, in Washington DC. I served congregations in New Jersey, Maryland, and Arkansas, before retiring in 2011 and returning to the Philadelphia area. My wife, the Rev. Kerry Mueller and I were the co-consulting ministers for the UUs of Gettysburg, PA, from 2012 to 2017, and, after another year of retirement, we are now the co-consulting ministers for the UU Fellowship of Pottstown, PA.