First Mountain Board Chair Charter
Patron Life Member
White Oak Vision Holder Donor
Passing of Roger Comstock
April 12, 1934- June 16, 2020. He and Faith were married in 1957 and
have 3 grown children: Karen, Russell and Kathy. Faith contact information:
341 Geary Rd S., Lincoln, VT 05443, 802 453-7073,
Roger became seriously ill in December of 2018 and was given only months to live by
Doctors, at which point he entered HospiceCare in a facility in Middlebury and
remained under their watchful care for 16 months until dying of aspirated pneumonia.
Throughout, he remained in charge of both his living and dying. Twice during his time in
Hospice he was pronounced by Doctors as close to death, and both times his strong
heart pulled him thru. One of those times, after running a fever of 104 and being
comatose for nearly 3 days, upon waking up he informed his Doctors that they had
misdiagnosed his situation! This certainly fits in with the Roger many of us knew - he
never lived by other people’s thoughts about what he might or might not do.
Here’s what we think pretty well covers his life re UU volunteer and professional
activities – based on the combined memories of Faith, Kay Montgomery, Bob Hill and
UU Congregation of Atlanta – lots of leadership roles
SUUSI – staff leadership roles and Board Chair, guided the committee that was
exploring the possibility of establishing a Camp/Conference Center – he later would
say that he accepted that role to make sure that it didn’t happen because it could
never be a viable operation and he wanted to be in a position where he could stop it
from happening. Once he realized that it was possible with an ideal site in Highlands,
NC atop little Scaly Mtn, he became an out front proponent for the project.
When the new organization was established he was the first Board President of The
Mountain, a position he held for many years.
He then went to work for the UUA and served as a District Executive in the Southeast
– initially sharing the job with Bob Hill. Bob had Florida and half of Mid-South while
Roger had the other half and the Thomas Jefferson District. Later, he became the sole
DE for Mid-South. He retired from that position in 1997 and moved to Maine, where
he became DE for the state of Maine. While in that position he was instrumental in
pushing the idea of the Maine, NH and VT Districts merging into one unified district,
which they did, and he remained in that position of being the DE for what became
the NE District until he finally permanently retired in 2008.
Having been "In the Creation", Roger can cite facts and figures about the early days of The Mountain. But he would rather talk about the miracles... events that created the Mountain Magic we've come to treasure.
The first Mountain Thanksgiving, 1979, was attended by early Life Members and the Board, to plan the summer program. Kay Montgomery and Carol Light hoped to prepare a feast for these Mountain Pioneers. Alas, no water in the kitchen! Steve Carter dug a trench found the leak, repaired it. But then "water sprouted out of the walls!" Roger recalls. Finally, all leaks repaired, a superb turkey dinner was miraculously created.
New Year'sEve 1979, another small band gathered to welcome the Mountain's first year. After a day of work and an evening of games in the Lodge, just at midnight, it began to snow! It was a sign that we belonged here," Roger recalled.
Another of Roger's "miracle stories" concerns a worship service Mo Wheeler was leading at Meditation Rock. As she stood with her back to the mountains and raised her hand, a double rainbow appeared behind her.
Roger also recalls the "Movie Story", but the nostalgic gleam in his eye fades as he remers the "incredible demands" made on the small staff here. Realtor Harry Popkin sent the producer of a TV film, The Mating Season, to inspect The Mountain facilities . They "turned day into night," lighting cabins on rainy days, or shooting daytime scenes at midnight. They required steak and/or lobster, and when the filming of a scene at Bridal Veil Falls went overtime, demanded that the meals be brought to them, complete with tables. Their huge trailers damaged our fragile ecosystems, but they paid $20,00 for repairs. They redecorated our dining hall with fans and new curtains and paid us to make the tables we still use, The Mountain netted $50,000 and our own Ann Heath had a speaking role. So all was forgiven.
The Mountain was able to respond to events in the world outside its peaceful environment in a special way. At the time of the terrible series of murder of young black men in Atlanta, UUCA's David Ranankin proposed camperships to send a number of young black youth to The Mountain, to counteract the mood of fear and apprehension they faced in their city.
Roger's memories of the formal founding of The Mountain are equally vivid. Tracing the early days that lead up to the purchase of our 85 acre place of magic, Roger recalled a challenge from Bob Karnan to SUUSI to start a camp similar to Rowe in Massachusetts. Active SUUSI members were queried; Al Faaber conducted a formal marketing survey, revealing that 40% of UUs in the southeast were interest in the idea. Roger's initial skepticm began to fade.
The idea was eagerly adopted by Mo and Larry Wheeler, who led the feasibility study and drew up plans for a facility, a program, and financing. A week-long trial camp was attended by about 80 UUs at Valle Cruces near Boon, led by Ted Machler. A permanent site was sought "in the mountains bu as near to Florida as possible. :Harry Popkinm who specialized in camp real estate, took the committee to dozens of sites before finding the one near Highlands.
On April 14, 1979 the Board, led by Roger, memt at Meditation Rock. Though no firm decision was made, enthusiasm was high and they adjourned to Atlanta to deliberate further. The Board members agreed to commit $500 each and $5000 of SUUSI finds, and signed a contract that would be closed the next October. The goal of $300,000 to be raised was set.
Roger recalls a thick blue book filled with detailed plans on raising funds from UUs in the southeast, as well as a proposal to the Veatch Foundation. They sent to the proposal in May, awaiting a vote by Veatch in September. The fact that 1979 SUUUSI participants pledged $75,000 impressed Veatch Executive Director, Edd Lawrence. He called Roger, offered a $100,00 loan. Roger responded that we had to have $200,00. Lawrence's succinct reply: "OK."
The number of Life Members grew rapidly, as UUs helped the dream come true. They wanted to be a part of this exciting place, wanted "aa piece o the rock." Roger is convinced that "if The Mountain were in trouble, there is enough commitment to bail us out." He recalls a time when we faced possible default on our mortgage. We need $20,000. "An angel was found who loaned us the amount." Roger believes in angels.
Today he sees The Mountain's strength in combination of this ongoing commitment and "professional management." The Mountain has a unique appeal. Roger is one of many who have responded to the magic and who return and return to experience it.