Harold Straughn Obituary (1939 – 2021) – Salt Lake City, UT
Harold Kent Straughn
December 6, 1939 – July 15, 2021
Salt Lake City, Utah – Harold Kent Straughn – pastor, chaplain, author, father, friend, and companion – died on July 15, 2021 at his Salt Lake City home at the age of 81 after a series of illnesses. Harold leaves behind his wife Carole, son Jeremy, daughter Joanna, sister Janet Straughn Mills, brother Keith and granddaughter Sophia Gener.
His life reflected the thirst for knowledge, faith and justice.
“Harold changed everything he touched,” remembers his wife Carole. “Whatever job he took on, he saw the possibilities first, then saw where people were stuck, and then helped them use their own resources to help themselves.”
As an editor of a church newspaper, head of a publishing office, church pastor or hospice chaplain, Harold welcomed positive, respectful and imaginative decisions. One boss called him “the most creative person I’ve ever met”.
Harold was born on December 6, 1939 in Kansas City, Missouri, to one of five children of Howard R. Straughn and Edythe Straughn. Harold graduated from Rosedale High School and stayed in touch with his classmates for the rest of his life. He’s been a challenging but friendly presence on social media for over 900 friends and family members.
He received his BA in Journalism from Abilene Christian College in 1961. The college, later a university, honored Harold with the 2005 Gutenberg Prize for Outstanding Professional Achievement of a Graduate in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Journalism was productive in another way. A humorous column that Harold wrote in the student newspaper with Abilene Christian caught the attention of freshman Carole Stone. They married the following year.
In 1966 he received a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian and a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. Harold was interested in the European roots of the restoration movement. In 1969 he moved to Tübingen with his family for three years. He studied the early reformation free church movement. A few weeks before his death, Harold donated his documents to Abilene Christian’s Center for Restoration Studies for archiving.
Upon graduation, Harold worked for Sweet Publishing Company in Austin, Texas as the executive editor of the Christian Chronicle. Harold was fired in 1968 for refusing to retract a story about student integration at Southwestern Christian College, a historic Black Church of Christ college in Terrell, Texas. A few days later, on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated. With Carole’s blessing, Harold withdrew her last $ 300 for a bus ticket to Atlanta and marched into Dr. Kings funeral procession.
Harold continued his transformative work in a number of roles. In Abilene, Texas, he worked as a researcher and later a writer on radio and television shows for the Herald of Truth program. In Waco, Texas, he ran the writing division of Word, Inc., a Christian record and book company. In Long Island, New York, he wrote for the Christian radio show “Heartbeat” and later for Sterling Publishing, whose titles include the Guinness Book of Records. Harold preached at West Islip Church on Long Island from 1985 to 1992, helping the ward realign its mission and lay a foundation for decades to come. In St. Louis, Missouri, Harold worked for the Catholic publisher Liguori Publications. He served as pastor for the First Christian Church of Luther, Oklahoma, and helped the church fulfill a dream of building a new meeting hall.
In 2009, Harold and Carole retired to Salt Lake City, where he served as appointed minister for the First Unitary Church. He supported the Christian Church of St. Francis of Assisi in the Timpanogos facility of Utah State Prison. Harold worked as a hospice chaplain from 2012 to 2017.
His published books include:
Through the Bible with those who were there (with Carole Straughn).
The five divorces of a healthy marriage.
Unknown Texas (anthology with Jonathan Eisen).
LifeSpirals: Explore Your Ascension through the Seven Transformations That Drive Human Dreams.
Anecdotes that transform: Little stories that changed my life without my knowing it.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 7th at 10:30 am at Overland Park Church, 13400 W 119th St, Overland Park, KS 66213
Instead of flowers, in memory of Harold Kent Straughn, the family encourages donations to: ACU Library Center for Restoration Studies Materials. Gifts can be sent to ACU Box 29132, Abilene, TX 79699-9132.
To plant commemorative trees, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Posted by Kansas City Star on August 1, 2021.