Richard Wyse Dutton, age 91, died on August 8, 2023. Dick transcends simple characterization. “Wyse” seems apt. Youthful also fits. While possessing a spirit not tethered to this world, Dick made unbounded efforts to do worldly good.
He worked diligently for peace, justice, and to respect diversity. He connected and built bridges between people. As a lifelong Baptist pastor, he used his ministry to inspire action to give of oneself and of one’s resources for those in need.
Born in 1932 to Rolland Nelson Dutton and Gladys Wyse Jones, Dick grew up in a family of ministers and responded to the same calling. He graduated from Baylor University with a degree in English and Religion, then was awarded a Bachelor’s degree in Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological School. Continued study led to a Master’s in Theology from Princeton Seminary.
Spiritual miracles filled 50 years of service as pastor in churches from Virginia to New Hampshire. Dick even fit in 12 years work in substance abuse education and prevention.
For six years prior to retirement, Dick was Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church in New London.
During that time, he organized ecumenical groups and trips to Nicaragua and El Salvador. He advocated for local affordable housing. He created Children of Hope, a program uniting Catholic and Protestant youth from Northern Ireland and the US, and he promoted dialogue between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The Kids for Peace performance summer camp that he brought to life served youth from different religious backgrounds. His personal theme, “celebrate diversity,” became fundamental to the church.
Dick also greatly enjoyed his service to Unitarian Universalist Churches in Andover and Laconia post-retirement. Dick upheld an ideal in which the congregation is the focus of church life, ministering to each other and their community through everyday action, with the pastor coaching from the wings.
Dick was fortunate to be married twice. He and Patricia Pearce Dutton relished raising their two children, Allan Dutton (Jane) and Elizabeth Dutton Downing. He savored relationships with two beloved grandchildren, Jenna Dutton (Alex Beard) and Peter Dutton (Kara).
Later in life, Dick found Nancy Clagett Dutton, with whom he shared almost 25 years of love, travel, and a home full of peace and welcome. Dick delighted in getting to be part of Nancy’s large and loving family, including her two sons Charles and Brook and their families.
Dick enjoyed the haven of a lake-side cabin in nearby Deering, a place with long-lasting and deep family connections. Dick was fond of tennis, downhill skiing, boating, and had a youthful love of convertibles and Volkswagen Beetle bugs. Music filled Dick’s soul.
Dick was awarded the 2016 Culture of Peace Award from New Hampshire Peace Action. Describing Dick well, the award “was humbly presented in gratitude for a lifetime of advocacy and devotion to peace, reconciliation, and valuing the humanity of each and every person. For giving voice to those who would be dehumanized and for teaching the work of peace to the young.”
Dick saw the similarities that unite humans across time, age, culture, faith, and regions. To his last minute, Dick dreamed of fostering peace and unity in this world. Throughout his life and especially in his last year, he expressed how grateful he was for his many opportunities and for the people in his life.
A Memorial Service, An Experience of Light, and Life, and Joy, will be held at the First Baptist Church, New London, on August 25, at 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, for those who wish to contribute in memory of Dick, organizations he cared about are:
Heifer International, www.heifer.org/, 1 World Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72202.