A democratic organization supporting separation of state and church, and promoting understanding and acceptence of atheism and freethought in our community

A democratic organization supporting separation of state and church,understanding and acceptence of atheism 

and freethought in our community

Remembering Mildred
March 16, 1929 - October 25, 1994

Mildred McCallister

A founder of the Humanist Association of the Greater Sacramento Area, the first major local freethought organization (formed 1979), Mildred McAllister headed the organization and guided it for 14 years, besides serving on the Board of Directors for the American Humanist Association. The "Founder of the Feast," it was she who bent the first grasses, pointed the way, and sowed the first seeds of freethought in this rough soil. Her untimely death in 1994 left us heartsick and grieving. Would she be pleased at what we have become? We can imagine, we can hope. Here is an image of Mildred, and here are wrintings, by Mildred and about her.


In Celebration of Conscious Life
by Mildred McCallister
[Written for a 1992  Winter Solstice program; published in the Winter 1994 issue of "Religious Humanism”, a national journal.]

Atoms in my brain swirl, swirl, and link - link
to the past, link to the future, link to NOW! Atoms in the synapses of my brain
Form a thought;
Know a need;
Plan a deed;
Return to memory. My human eyes search through words from printed page or scribbled
The mind thirsty to know this world - far beyond and in the
years time spent. These eyes see colors - petal and tree, wings and fur, and greens
of grasses,
Only resting in the dreems of sleep, castring pall, fear, or delight.Atoms of arms and fingers write -
Atoms of tongue speak - the messages urged by nbeed of sharing,
caring, asking, knowing - always wanting to know. Sounds of music tickle the mind, birds chirp, "Who am I?"
Smells of baking bread recall childhood days, a happy stomach;
perfume of flowers reminds - Grandpa is dead, but the red rose
in my garden is sweet today. Arms and fingers sew a seam, cook, tidy house and grounds.
My consciousnes revels in lkife - play and work - but cries when
pride is nicked or changes are too deep. Happy in the Universe, I live
a part of the spheres and gaseous clouds. Generated in the Universe, I am a conscious speck on my planet,
'til the day I return to the dust of the totality
of the stars.

Noted Humanist, Longtime Teacher, Dies at Age 65
[Vacaville Reporter, Vacaville, CA, October 27, 1994]

Vacaville humanist, teacher and author Mildred McCallister died Tuesday, October 25, 1994, at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Vallejo after a short illness. She was 65.

Born March 16, 1929, in Shenandoah Valley near Plymouth, Mrs. McCallister was a fourth generation Californian. She lived in Vacaville for 44 years.

She was a teacher in Vacaville schools for 25 years.

Mrs. McCallister served as persident of the Humanist Association of the Greater Sacramento Area for 11 of the past 12 years. She also served on the American Humanist Association board of directors and was president of the American Humanist Association Nationwide Counselors Association.

As a regional director for American Humanist Association, Mrs McCallister founded the Northern California Council of Humanist Organiazations.

For her tireless efforts, the Sacramento group honored her as Humanist leader of the Decade for 1980-1990.

Mrs. McCallister was a frequent contributor of letters and articles to The Reporter, where she stated views as an environmental and civil rights activist.

She was a published poet and author who loved music, photography and the Sierra Nevada. For more than 10 years, Mrs. McCallister sang with her daughter, Janet, in a folk music duo known as Rosenthorn. They performed for charities, country fairs and on a national tour.

Family and friends said she was a "lifelong learner and teacher to friends and family who will miss her dearly."

At the time of her death, she was teaching herself to speak French and her grandchildren to play the piano.

Mrs. McCallister is survived by her son, Mark of Vacaville, daughter Janet Lenore Pigniolo of San Francisco; father, Clyde Berriman of Shenandoah Valley; sister Clydne Reynolds of Shenandoah Valley; two grandchildren, Caleb and Megan of Vacaville; and longtime companion, Duane Free of Vacaville.

Funeral Services will be 10 a.m. Friday in McCune Garden Chapel, 212 Mail Street., Vacaville.

Graveside services will be 1 p.m. Friday in Shenandoah Valley cemetary, Amadore County.

Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. today at McCune Chapel.

Memorials can be made to the American Cancer Society, the Humanist Association of the Greater Sacramento Area, Delta Kappa Gamma Society, or Women Escaping a Violent Environment of Sacramento.

Mildred McCallister: HAGSA's Humanist Leader of the Decade
by Duane Free, Mar 30, 1990
[from the Newsletter of the Humanist Association of the Greater Sacramento Area]

At our April 6, 1990 meeting, Mildred McCallister will receive from her chapter, the Humanist Association of the Greater Sacramento Area, a plaque declaring her to be HAGSA's Humanist leader of the Decade.

Mildred was the first president of the HAGSA chapter in 1981 and since then has been reelected annually with the exception of 1985. Her chapter has grown from 10 members to the present 107; the treasury is now very adequate; meetings are lively and well attended; all largely due to her steadfast enthusiam and plain hard work. In teh early days, she also took on the job of acting treasurer, as well as president, for two or three years, to keep things going.

Three to five times a month for ten years she has traveled from her Vacaville, Calif., home to Sacramento -- a round trip of 80 miles -- to lead HAGSA meetings.

In 1986 Mildred was elected to the American Humanist Association Board of Directors for a four-year term.

In 1987 she retired from elementary-school teacj=hing in public schools after 25 years. In that year she was appointed by AHA to be Northern California Regional Director. Her organizing call led to formation of the Northern California Council of Humanist Organizations (NoCCHO), an umbrella body of AHA and most other Humanist organizations in the region.

In 1988 Mildred met Jack Trinpey, creator of Rational recovery Systems, an alcoholism - recovery program which does not depend (like Alcoholics Anonomyous) on a religius basis; and in 1989 HAGSA became RRS's first patron (sponsor) Mildred got AHA interested in and is now being promoted by AHA and individual chapters nationwide. Trimpey's book Rational Recovery from Alcoholism carries acknowledgment of Mildred McCallister's vital support in getting RR off the ground.

In the summer of '89 Mildred was appointed chair of an AHA Liaison Committee and she traveled to San Francisco area to attend meetings of the Counselors' Troika (executive body) to help shore up some faltering coordination between the AHA Board and its nationalDivision of Humanist Counseling.

Mildred is also chair of an ongoing committee on AHA restructuring.

From November 15, 1989 until recently, Mildred was in cancer therapy and still she provided the agendas for HAGSA general and board of director meetings even though she was unable to attend. Her newsletter came out as usual; and her correspondence, under her several hats, continued to be volumnious. She returned to sctive presence at meetings in april.

Mildred McCallister's rarest asset, beyond a zeal for hard work for Humanism, seems to be her ability to discuss and help organize a project without provoking acrimony. As one HAGSA member said recently, I've never heard anyone say a single harsh word about Mildred.

In Memorium
by Duane Free
[Spoken by him before a full congregation at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Sacramento, California, on Sunday, October 27, 1996.]

I'm Duane Free. I've been a Unitarian since 1945 and a member of this Society since 1978.

I'm speaking in memory of Mildred McCallister, who was a Friend, with a capital F, of this Society; she contributed financially for several years.

Mildred led the Humanist Association of the Greater Sacramento Area for 14 years, until her death October 25, 1994. She was one of the founders of the local Humanist organization, along with some of the leading members of this Society, in 1979.

She was a great leader of our Humanist Association. Membership ran from 12 to begin with to over 150 at her death.

Our Humanist Association is rather a symbiotic organization with this Society. Many of our members at the beginning, and since, were and are from the Society; and the Humanist Association attracted many members from outside over the years and gradually some of these became members of UUSS, and are today.

Mildred was a very creative person. She was non-judgmental; I don't think she had an enemy in the world. Very creative, she was able to lead our organization without causing acrimony, and for that reason was a major force for Humanism in this city.

She was only 65 when she died, accidentally, in a hospital in Vallejo. She should be with us today...and I'm speaking in great sorrow in memory of her untimely death.

In Memorium
by Bette Chambers
[Bette Chamers is a former president of the American Humanist Association, and president Assistant to the President]

I met Mildred at her first session on the AHA Board of Directors. She said she felt like a bewildered newcomer and hoped to learn all she could before making long-term decisions. Yet, that meeting wasn't adjourned before Mildred had opportunities to cut through the often superflous rhetoric with common sense ideas, and remarkably prescient solutions to vexing problems.

Working with Lloyd Kumley, Mildred pioneered the issuance of the book Humanists of the Year ... 41 years of noted Humanists. ... Their views might have been lost to ... history, had not Mildred and Lloyd persevered. Now a copy of this book goes to all contributing members of the American Humanist Association.