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Obituary: Robert Senghas, 1928-2022

Shelburne resident was former minister of First Unitarian Universalist Society in Burlington

Published July 8, 2022 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated July 9, 2022 at 12:11 a.m.


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Robert and Dorothy Senghas - COURTESY
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  • Robert and Dorothy Senghas
Robert E. Senghas, 93, a resident of Wake Robin Retirement Community in Shelburne, died at Wake Robin on June 26, 2022, of natural causes. He was born on June 30, 1928, in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Erwin William Senghas and Lydia Mueller Senghas.

Bob graduated from Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Ohio. In 1950, he graduated from Yale College, and he earned a JD from Harvard Law School (1953). In September 1952, he married Dorothy Caiger; she predeceased him in 2002 after 50 happy years together.

He served as an officer on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps for two years. Then Bob practiced law in San Francisco for five years, until he decided to become a Unitarian Universalist minister. He graduated in 1963 with an MDiv. from the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif.; the school awarded him an honorary STD in 1984.

He served as minister in Unitarian churches in Davis, Calif., and Wellesley Hills, Mass. He was the minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Society in Burlington, Vt. — the church at the head of Church Street — from 1979 to 1989, when he retired. From 1974 to 1979, Bob was the executive vice president of his denomination, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA), representing the New Hampshire-Vermont District, and served on the UUA Board Finance Committee.

Bob is survived by three sons: in Fla., Frederick Christian Senghas; in Rolling Meadows, Ill., Edward Caiger Senghas and his wife, Maureen Cotter; and in Vermont, Stuart Bailey Senghas and his wife, Alicia Wein Senghas. He is also survived by Frederick’s children, Matthew Senghas and Sarah Hall, and Sarah’s husband, Brian Hall, and their daughter, Emma; by Stuart’s children, Nathan, Lydia and Isaiah; and by many nieces and nephews and their children. In addition, he is survived by an identical twin brother, the Rev. Richard E. Senghas, of Scarborough, Maine.

He served on several boards, including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Burlington, and the Vermont Mozart Festival Board. In 1965, Bob participated in the civil rights movement in Selma, Ala.

Since 1982, he had been a practicing Zen Buddhist, a nonresident of the Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, N.Y., and a senior student of its abbot, the late John Daido Loori, Roshi, as well as a founding member of the Zen Affiliate of Burlington and of the Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship.

He is the author of the book Cycles of Reflection and enjoyed playing the viola, having played in the Amateur Musicians Orchestra (AMO) and the University of Vermont Orchestra, as well as in chamber groups.

A memorial service will be held on September 10, 2022, at 2 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, at the head of Church Street, in Burlington.
Memorial gifts in lieu of flowers may be made to one’s favorite charity.

Arrangements are by Elmwood-Meunier Funeral Home of Burlington.

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