El personaje del mes
By Jade Arroyo
The Rev. D. Farley W. Wheelright is a man who has led a life of honor and is deeply loved by many. He is a self-professed atheist, a retired Unitarian Universalist minister and the second-oldest member of the Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners Association. Farley is a well-known member of the expatriate community of San Miguel (he has been a resident since 1992) and is respected for his humanitarian work over the years. He has been involved in La Biblioteca as a board member for a number of years, he served as a deacon for the Universalist Fellowship of San Miguel, and his wife was one of the founders of Jovenes Adelante, which provides university scholarships to mexican students, among other activities. A prize is named after him, The Rotary – Midday Farley W. Wheelwright Citizen of the Year Award.
Farley is originally from Boston and comes from four generations of Unitarians. Before becoming a minister he worked for a couple of years in New York for Life magazine as a reporter, writing a very popular column called “Life Goes to a Party.” His path toward becoming a minister was an unusual one: He got his bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University Theological School at age 41.
He is known as a true activist, especially during the Civil Rights era of the ’60s and ’70s. He led a contingent of Long Island Unitarian ministers to the historic march on Washington. He spent several summers in the 1960s helping at voter registration drives in Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.
Two of the best-known public events he was involved in were Dr. King’s marches in Selma and Memphis. Wheelwright became acquainted with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and participated in the famous 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march. He was photographed walking with Emily Taft Douglas, wife of Senator Paul Douglas, a Democrat from Illinois, and the picture was printed in Life magazine. In fact, Dr. King was going to officiate at Farley’s installation in Cleveland the Sunday following his assassination.
Through his career Farley has given hundreds of sermons on all sorts of topics, including love, despair, spirituality, public education and communication with God, addressing his audiences with honesty, style and courage to speak about vital issues that blend social, political, and ethical subjects reflecting the principles of Unitarian Universalism. He has now published a collection of 21 sermons, titled Twice-Told Tales. Some of the highlights of the book are sermons titled God Talk, The Unredeemed Legacy of Marin Luther King, Jr. and The Three Musketeers: War, Trade, Religion. Twice-Told Tales is available online from Amazon, but you can get a copy here and meet Farley in person at a book signing on Saturday, March 29, at 3 pm in the Salon at the Quinta Loreto Hotel. For more information, contact Sheryl Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farley is now 97 and leads a more tranquil life, but he is visited by his friends, who love to share his conversation and who also read to him. Due to blindness from macular degeneration he must keep reading with borrowed eyes. He is still active in the local UU Fellowship, a philosophy club and various social discussion groups and serves on the board of directors for the local school for the deaf.
He has an innate sense of humor and sincerity and you can tell his point of view was always to question and be true to what he preaches, the most amazing teaching is to act the way you feel and think.