- Published: November 21, 2013
Bill Lorenz died peacefully of kidney disease at his home in St. Louis, Mo. on Nov. 13. He was 86 years old.
Bill was born in Thief River Falls, Minn. on Dec. 26, 1926. He was the third child of Edward Henry and Dorothy (Groff) Lorenz.
Bill grew up in St. Bernard, Ohio and attended the Lotspeich School and Walnut Hills High School. After graduation from Princeton University in 1948, he spent a year in Poland as a volunteer for the American Friends Service Committee, transporting building materials to farmers who were rebuilding their homes after WWII.
After his first year at McCormick Seminary in Chicago, Bill met Jane Jewell from Gordon, Neb. in the mountains of western Puerto Rico, where they were both working at El Guacio, a community center sponsored by the Presbyterian Board of National Missions. They were married in 1951.
Bill’s career as a minister included work with migrant farm workers (traveling from northern Minnesota to southern Texas in a second-hand hearse) and pastorates in Detroit and Paw Paw, Mich. before he moved with his family to St. Louis. As pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, he became very involved in the civil rights movement. He served as the first chairman of the Greater St. Louis Committee for Freedom of Residence and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Alabama.
He continued his civil rights work at jobs with University City, the Block Partnership Program and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He retired from EEOC in 1989 and returned to the ministry, serving as interim pastor at Berea Presbyterian Church, Christ Church and the Presbyterian Church of Overland.
Bill and Jane were avid bridge players, and Bill enjoyed golf, singing, swimming and lying in the sun. In the summer he would lie on an air mattress in the Heman Park swimming pool and sing songs from his extensive repertoire. Once a boy swam up to him and asked if he took requests. He loved to take long road trips and wore argyle socks.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife and bridge partner of 57 years, Jane; his parents; his step-mother, Winifred (Fitzwater) Lorenz; a special aunt, Justina Showers; his son,Timothy and his brother, Edmund. Bill is survived by his sons, Ted (Anita) and Cliff; his daughter, Jill (Rudd Falconer); his grandson, Steve and his sisters Mary Dalton, Florence Lorenz and Lucy Reddell.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23, at Trinity Presbyterian Church in University City, Mo.