The Rev. Dr. William R. Loesch died at his home in Dorchester on Saturday, June 16, 2018.
He is survived by his three daughters and son: Melanie Loesch; Cathy Loesch; Cynthia Loesch-Johnson (and husband Jeffery Johnson); Christopher (and wife Shannon), and their four children. He is also survived by his former wife, Martha Sanchez, of Dorchester, the mother of their children, and his twin brother, Rev. Dr. Robert Loesch, a United Church of Christ clergy living in Springfield, MA, and four nieces and a nephew.
Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, he lived with his family in several states during World War II, including Melrose, MA, and high school in Glen Ridge, NJ. He graduated from Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, in 1963 with a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology, and Andover Newton Theological School with a Master of Divinity in 1968, and Doctor of Ministry in 1976. He was ordained into the United Church of Christ fifty years ago in Roxbury in 1968. He was a member of the adjunct faculty at Andover Newton Theological School, Harvard University, Emmanuel College, and Northeastern University School of Nursing.
Message from Mayor of Boston, Martin J. Walsh: “It’s with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to my friend Reverend Bill Loesch. His passing is felt by the entire City of Boston, Dorchester and especially for Codman Square. For decades, Rev. Loesch has been at the forefront of civil rights, social justice, and improving quality of life in our City. He brought the community together through the Codman Square Neighborhood Council, the BOLD Teen group, and many more organizations that helped instill a sense of pride in the neighborhood. He set a great example for future generations, and his legacy lives on through the work of his daughter Cynthia Loesch Johnson and the countless people touched by his mentorship. Boston will always be grateful for his dedicated activism and leadership. And I will always cherish our friendship and the time we spent together in the neighborhood, in our parks, and even in Foxboro cheering on the Patriots. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.“
He lived and worked in urban ministry at Columbia Point Housing, the largest public housing project in New England. His urban ministry at Columbia Point involved working with seven major denominations in dialogue and debate about the ministry to urban areas of Boston, especially at Columbia Point. He developed and was the director from 1969-79 of a local church fellowship, the Christian Center of the Columbia Point Housing Development in Boston’s Dorchester section. He also worked under Senator Ted Kennedy’s leadership and Tufts University School of Medicine to establish the Geiger Gibson Health Center, the first community health center in the country. He worked there to address housing, educational and health issues daily. He was very active in civil rights issues in Boston, marching side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and riding to school with students during the 1970’s busing crisis in Boston. He helped design the McCormack School, making it the first Boston public school required to be open for community use.
He became a member of Second Church in Dorchester and Greenwood United Methodist Church, and created several civic organizations: Breath of Life Dorchester (BOLD) Teen group, a teen peer leadership group, within program called Teens Against Tobacco, affiliated with Greenwood Family Life programs. He led BOLD Teens Against Tobacco as they organized to stop all tobacco ads in Boston Globe and then stopped all pharmacies in Boston from selling tobacco products, the second city in the nation to do so.
Rev. Loesch co-founded The Center For Community Health Education, Research and Service (CCHERS) serving students from Boston University School of Medicine, Emmanuel College and Northeastern University’s School of Nursing.
Rev. Loesch received the 1989 Distinguished Ministry Award from the Alumni/ae Association of Andover Newton Theological School. Rev. John Eller, ANTS ’69, said “His ministries are overflowing with love, persistence and the skilled tools of urban ministry, which have been hewn day by day.”
His twin brother Bob Loesch said, “I have known and loved my twin brother Bill all of our lives, attending schools together from elementary through undergraduate years. We shared the same bedroom until we went off to college. Except for a few minor childhood arguments, we have always gotten along and cooperated well. We have followed parallel careers in Protestant ministry within the United Church of Christ. While I worked in local churches across the Northeast, he lived and worked in urban ministry faithfully in Boston all of his lifetime. As I reflect on many of his personal qualities and characteristics, they included ‘friendly, sociable, great sense of humor, loyal, honest, humble, caring, faithful, adventurous, generous, happy, joyful, open-minded, studious, empathetic, careful, wise, health-conscious, inquisitive, progressive, grateful, loving, compassionate, trustworthy, good-hearted, cooperative and more.” Some of these correspond to the fruits of the Spirit listed by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Although my brother was not defined by labels, some of the roles most important in his life were: loving husband, loving father, loyal friend, life-long Democrat, progressive Protestant clergyman, urban environmentalist, community organizer and activist, mentor and advisor to youth, hospital chaplain, Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor, Boston Globe subscriber and New England Patriots fan.”
There will be a Celebration of Life at Second Church, Codman Square, 600 Washington Street, Dorchester, MA 02124 on Saturday, July 14 with visiting at 12 noon and the celebration service at 1:00 pm. Internment will be private in Andover, MA. Arrangements are made by Floyd A. Williams Funeral Home, www.floydawilliamsfuneralhome.com;
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to Bold Teens, c/o Treasurer, Codman Square Neighborhood Council, 14 Euclid Street, Dorchester, MA 02124. For inquiries please contact Robert Loesch, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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