Thu. May 25th, 2023

The Rev. Robert G. Van Gorder died in Middlesex Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. Bob Van Gorder is survived by Jan H. Losee, a resident of Lawrenceville in GA, two sons Stephen R. Van Gorder and Jonathan G. Van Gorder, both of Fairfield CT, two sisters Betsy R. Minkler and Barbara Coffin, of Berkeley CA, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. His second wife Jane Winchel Van Gorder died in 2018 and his first spouse Joy H. Van Gorder passed away in 1989.

Born in Peking on 5th January 1927 to Dr. George W. Van Gorder & Helen Goforth Van Gorder who worked at Peking Union Medical College. Williams College, New York City and Union Theological Seminary were his two graduate schools. He was also a U.S. Army Veteran of World War II. The Rev. Robert “Bob” Van Gorder was a pastor at the Old South Congregational Church in Farmington, Maine, 1954-1959, the Federated Community Church in Hampden MA, 1959-1969, and the First Congregational Church in Westbrook CT, 1969-1991. The members of Westbrook Church gave him the honorary title of Pastor Emeritus as a way to express their gratitude for his ministry.

Van Gorder was active in the community where he served. Van Gorder was involved in a number of different programs. Literacy Volunteers and Planned Parenthood were among the programs he supported. He also helped resettle several refugee family members and directed a variety of health-related organizations, including the Westbrook Public Health Advisory Committee, Westbrook Mental Health Day Care Center and Gateway Counseling. In addition, he was the director of Westbrook’s “Safe Harbor” project for elderly housing and served for eight years as the Chaplain for the Westbrook Fire Department. Bob was a member of the United Church of Christ State Conference Committee on Ministerial Aid.

Bob, a talented photographer, won many awards, both domestically and internationally, for his photos. Bob’s photos often showed his sense of humor, deep interest in other people and an “eye” that was particularly sensitive to the artful and beautiful. Bob shared his passion for photography with the New Haven Camera Club. He created numerous slideshows and prints, along with a variety of music.

Committal will take place on Saturday, May 22nd, 2021 at Cypress Cemetery in Westbrook at 10:00 a.m., followed by a Memorial Service at First Congregational Church of Westbrook at 11:00 a.m. The family requests that any memorial donations be sent to Covenant Living Benevolent Care Fund, and the Westbrook Congregational Church