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Rev. Richard H. Stearns, 81; Served as 1st Presbyterian Church Senior Minister


The Rev. Richard H. Stearns passed away, surrounded by his family on April 4 in Poughkeepsie, NY. He was 81.

He served the Presbyterian Church for nearly 40 years, retiring from ministry in 1995 after 13 years as senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich. Before that, he was pastor at Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church in Rochester, NY, Calvin Presbyterian in Oklahoma City and First Presbyterian in Hominy, OK.

He served numerous leadership roles in the community and church, as commissioner of the Presbytery of Southern New England and chairman of the Synod of the Northeast. He was appointed by General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA as chairman of the Committee on Theological Education and also served as regional chairman of the National Endowment Fund for Princeton Theological Seminary. He graduated from Colgate University in 1954 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1960. Prior to his ministry, he was a captain in the U.S. Air Force. 

He was a gifted communicator in the pulpit and as storyteller to his grandchildren. He had a grateful, caring heart, wonderful wit and intellect, and lived life as a celebration, his spirit fed by deep roots and joy of family and a passion for sailing, dancing, tennis and music. He never wanted to miss the chance to be with his children and grandchildren, on his boat or at Tanglewood for a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony or by James Taylor.

He was predeceased by his wife of 56 years, Eleanor W. Stearns, and parents Harry and Helene Stearns of Englewood, NJ.

He is survived by his sister Charlotte Stearns of Poughkeepsie, NY; four children, Cheryl Stearns Huber of Newark, DE, Lisa Stearns of Hingham, MA, Richard H. Stearns Jr. of Newark, DE and Robert J. Stearns of East Hampton, NY, and six grandchildren Ryan, Lauren and Caitlyn Huber and Heather, Jeffrey and Alyssa Stearns.

Friends are invited to a viewing and visit with family Sat. April 12 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at Chandler Funeral Home, 2506 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE. A funeral service will follow at 2 p.m. at First and Central Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE., followed immediately by interment at Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Wilmington, DE.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions in Richard's name to the American Heart.

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