Rev. Dr. John G. Wightman
1936 - 2017
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John Wightman passed away at home August 24, after a long and spirited fight with cancer.

John was born in 1936 in Greeley, Colorado. He graduated from Carleton College, then was called to the ministry and studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He interned at Tokyo Union Church in Japan. He was ordained in 1962 and became assistant pastor at Rock Spring Church in Arlington, Virginia. Here he joined the struggle for civil rights, helping to end segregation in all aspects of life - schools, movie theaters, buses, hospitals, housing. He was particularly successful in helping people obtain voting rights. He also formed the first desegregated Vacation Bible School in the state.

Throughout his ministry, John was committed to the causes of social justice for all marginalized people, whether over issues of race, sex, religion, ethnicity, or preference. He chaired the committee that declared Old Parish Church an Open and Affirming church for LGBTQ people. He was commended by the Concerned African American Parents and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Society of Westfield, NJ. But he went gently into these battles, meeting people where they were and slowly building a consensus for a just direction. He modeled in his life the compassion he saw in the Gospel.

After Rock Spring, John was called to Saint Paul's Church in Nutley, NJ. After ten years, he became Associate Conference Minister in the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ, traveling extensively around the state to support churches in trouble. He missed, however having a parish of his own, and so came to First Congregational in Westfield, NJ, where he remained until he retired to Sheffield, MA in 1998. There he became an active member at Old Parish Church. He also served several small area churches as interim pastor, including a number of years at Second Church of Pittsfield, MA.

John had an abiding love for the natural world, which he instilled in all his children, who are passing it down to their children. He served as chair of the Sheffield Land Trust Board of Directors. He thrived on music, singing with Berkshire Bach, Crescendo, and the church choir. He also loved bicycling and winning at cribbage.

John is survived by his beloved wife Marilyn and three adored children: Bruce (Tamara Davis) of Lafayette Hill, PA, Brian (Carrie Rouillard) of Barre, VT, and Catherine (Gregg Doney) of Clancy, MT. He is also survived by four beautiful grandchildren: Benjamin and Allison Wightman, Isabelle Wightman, and Haylee Doney, by his sister, Joan Haggard of Livonia, MI and her family, and his sisters-in-law: Margaret Strahl and Dorothy Strahl.

SERVICES: Memorial services will be held September 9th at Old Parish Church in Sheffield, MA at 1 PM. Burial will be held privately.

The family thanks the doctors and nurses of Berkshire Medical Center and the HospiceCare of the Berkshires team.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Old Parish Church or the Sheffield Land Trust are welcome.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Aug. 27, 2017.
Memorial service
01:00 PM
Old Parish Church
Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
December 20, 2017
Marilyn, our classmates at Muskegon High School in 1954 knew John as a leader, a gentleman; a fun person to be around; thoughtful classmate and always a friend.He made a difference in High School and that continued through out his life. Our condolence at missing him; our joy that he is home. We have just learned of his passing through our class email blog.
Margaret Wiersma Winn
September 9, 2017
Marilyn, I am so sorry that you have lost John. I did not know him, but I listened to everything your children and friends said about him and he was clearly a remarkable man. You were lucky to have had him with you for all these years.
Sally Haver
September 8, 2017
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived. May almighty God comfort you during this difficult time.
September 5, 2017
John, my brother, was always a part of me as I have been a part of him. We were quite a team in some ways! I shall miss his support and love very much. May Marilyn and family find some peace and rest as time goes on, and with the assurance that he is now at peace.
Joan Wightman-Haggard
August 31, 2017
Thoughts, prayers and condolences for family and friends of John, may he rest in peace. We joined FCC when John was senior minister, found his ministry to be thoughtful.
Larry Boyd
August 31, 2017
My thoughts are with Marilyn and family on their loss. The years he served in Westfield were special as our leader and a friend.
Chuck Woodward
August 29, 2017
Our hearts go out to Marilyn and family. John was a very special person who devoted his life to helping improve all humanity. We are grateful for the privilege of his friendship. He will be missed.
Jim and Robbie McNabb
August 27, 2017
John was one of our dearest friends and we will miss sorely miss him! Our hearts go out to Marilyn and send love, hugs, and prayers to her and the whole family.
Mary and Tom Wilsted
August 27, 2017
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. May you all feel comfort and peace surround you.
Kari Williams
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