Baehr, Rev. Joel William
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This world has lost a smiling face and effervescent personality. The universe became reunited with an old soul full of love, knowledge and wisdom when Rev. Joel William Baehr made his transition on Sunday, January 6, 2013. At 5:15 in the morning his wife and love, Robin, and dear friend Ray held their hands on his heart and smiled with him as he passed. Early Years: Joel Boehr grew up in Bluffton, Ohio beginning his journey on September 18, 1929 with parents John and Edna. His brother Dick joined the family two years later. Raised on a farm as a Mennonite, Billy (as he was known), developed a creativity and compassion for his life while searching for additional meaning. While still enrolled in Bluffton College (class of 1954), Billy set off on an adventure sure to change his life. He became a Marine and served his country from 1951 - 54 with a tour in the Korean War (11 months in combat). Upon his return, Joel (as he is now known) received his Masters Degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art (class of 1956) - his creativity channeled from woodcarving to ceramics to drawing with ease. His natural open-mindedness and curiosity served Joel well as he continued his journey.
In 1956, Joel experienced what was to be the beginning of his life's calling. While traveling through Montana he encountered Mary Wessel at the Black Butte Ranch. There he learned and studied the teachings of the Unity Movement and was called to Unity Village, Lee Summit, Missouri.
Joel was ordained in 1960 by Lowell Fillmore, son of Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. He spread his vision through Unity Churches in Detroit (with Eric Butterworth), Dayton, OH, Bellingham & Tacoma, WA, St. Louis, MO, Butte, Great Falls & Missoula, MT, before joining Unity Church of Mesa, AZ, in 1975. (Note: in 1975 Joel changed the spelling of his last name from Boehr to Baehr to facilitate easier pronunciation). After 37 years as the Senior Minister in Mesa, Joel retired on June 30, 2012.
From 1995 - 1996 Joel served as President of the Association of Unity Churches (now Unity Worldwide Ministries) as well as two terms on the board and multiple ministry teams.
Joel was previously married to Elaine Frantz (13 years; 3 children - Christy, Cheryl and Jim), D'Etta Devereaux (d.1995; 23 years; 2 children - Bryant & Elizabeth) and Kyra Hines (8 years). Joel leaves 4 grandchildren, Grady Baehr (Jim & Linda Baehr), Gwendolyn and Davoren Bishop (Elizabeth & Jim Bishop), and Tessa Greenfield (Bryant & Linda Baehr).
Some 5 years ago, Joel spotted an angel, Robin Tosline, and knew he had found the ONE. And he did. Joel and Robin married in 2010 and live with a connection few in life experience. Being in their presence made the world brighter and for them, complete. Robin has 5 children.
Changing the Channel:
In describing facing death to 7-year old grandson Grady, Joel let him know that he was not afraid, had no regrets and no unfinished business in this lifetime. And that while they would no longer be able to see each other and talk, he would still be with us all. Like changing a TV channel - the show on the previous channel is still there - we just can't see it anymore. Joel remains with us, just on a different channel.
He was a student and teacher of how to live a better life through unconditional love and forgiveness. He continued his teachings until his last breath. Joel passed peacefully of Interstitial Lung Disease on a beautiful Sunday morning. Services:Saturday, February 2, 2013 @ 10:00am at Unity Church of Mesa 2700 E Southern Ave, Mesa AZ. Refreshments and snacks to follow in the garden. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Unity of Mesa 2700 E Southern Ave, Mesa AZ 480-892-2700. Boyce Thompson Arboretum: 520-689-2723
Published in The Arizona Republic on Jan. 20, 2013