Posted by Craig Buhrendorf

A good way to describe my career might be to call it "bi-vocational" - clergy and publishing. I grew up in a newspaper family in Bristol. My grandfather owned and operated the Bristol Press from the early 1900s until his death in the 1950’s, when my father and uncle took over. As a kid, I often got to tag along as my father chased stories all over the state. During my college years, I worked most of my summer vacations in the composing room, setting type and serving as a gofer for the newsroom.

After graduation from Bristol High School, I earned my B.A. in history from Wesleyan University. Feeling a call to the ministry of the United Methodist Church, I went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree at Yale Divinity School. I was subsequently ordained Deacon in 1960 and Elder in 1963. Later I earned an M.A. in American Studies and Religion from Trinity College.

Most importantly of all during those years, I married my high school sweetheart Patricia, who went to nursing school at Yale New-Haven Hospital when I was in Divinity School. Our lives have been blessed with three children and four grandchildren. Last summer we celebrated our 61st anniversary.

During my first 17 years in parish ministry, while serving as pastor in North Canton, New Haven and Easton, I still kept one foot in the newspaper business - composing editorials, writing theater and concert reviews and serving on the Board of Directors of our company. I became a Rotarian in 1973 in the Bridgeport Club while serving as pastor in nearby Easton. Ironically, it was the same year in which our Avon-Canton Club was chartered.

I moved to Avon in 1977 at the beginning of a decade-long leave of absence from parish ministry in order to work full-time at the Bristol Press where after my father's retirement, I was named Associate Publisher. I was received into the Avon Rotary Club that year by a young president named Bob Cave.

The highlight of my Avon-Canton Rotary life was the opportunity to serve as club president during 1988-89. This was a wonderful time of growth for our club, partially as a result of our pioneering work as one of the area's first Rotary clubs to actively seek and welcome women into membership. We had recently moved to a small room in the Avon Old Farms Hotel, downstairs behind the reception desk, for our Friday morning meetings, after a nomadic existence among several Route 44 eateries. Our growing membership resulted in two further moves that year, the first into the upstairs room over the reception area and then into the wonderful space where we still hold our meetings to this day.

Ten years into my newspaper career, my family made the difficult but prudent decision to sell the publishing company. So I shifted gears once again and returned to full-time parish ministry, becoming pastor of Prospect United Methodist Church in Bristol and living there until retirement

in 2002. During those years, I also switched my Rotary membership to the Bristol Club, where I remember welcoming an esteemed District Governor named Tom Voorhees, on his official visit one year.

Happily, on our retirement to Avon, I was welcomed back into the best Rotary Club of all, our Avon-Canton Club, and enjoyed reconnecting with old Rotary friends while meeting lots of new ones. Altogether, now, I have proudly been a Rotarian for 46 years. Also during my retirement years, I have served as an interim pastor in Lakeville, Wethersfield and West Hartford, and still find myself substituting in local pulpits from time to time.

Summer vacations at our cottage at Madaket, on Nantucket were part of our rhythm of life for many years along with annual ski trips to Stowe, Vermont. I am happy to report that I skied into my mid-70s, and I am particularly proud of having skied at Stowe for 65 years in a row, from 1948 as a ten-year old, through 2013.

With music as a favorite avocation, I am now in my 31st year of playing viola in the Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra, one of New England's finest all-volunteer symphonic ensembles. In addition to holiday pops concerts and early summer outdoor concerts here in the Valley, the FVSO performs four concerts of classical music every year with gifted soloists. My biggest thrill as a musician was the opportunity to play a concert with the FVSO at Carnegie Hall during 2008.

So during an active retirement, Rotary remains very relevant as a wonderful way to stay connected with the community and to continue reaching out with Rotary friends in the spirit of "service above self". I look forward to many more years of Rotary fellowship.

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