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Posted on February 16, 2018 | 2:36 p.m.

Rev. Elizabeth (Bets) Wienecke of Carpinteria, 1936-2017

Source: Rev. Melitta L. Haslund

Rev. Elizabeth (Bets) Wienecke
Rev. Elizabeth (Bets) Wienecke

The Rev. Elizabeth (Bets) Wienecke was born in Evanston, Ill., to Major Gen. Robert Henry Wienecke and Eliza Maurine (Rittenhouse) on Dec. 22, 1936. She died peacefully at home in Carpinteria on Dec. 28, 2017, at the age of 81.

As an army brat, Bets attended 19 schools before graduating from George Washington High School in Alexandria, VA. Subsequently, she moved to Okinawa in 1954 with her family, where she met and married William C. Gourley Jr. at the age of 19.

They settled in Santa Paula, Calif., and had three children: Ann Michelle (deceased), William C. Gourley III, and Elizabeth Ann Gourley. Their marriage ended in 1976.

Bets then married the love of her life, Peter Haslund, in 1982. They were together for more than 40 years and shared many common interests including family, teaching, travel, and social justice.

Bets returned to college in the 1960s, earning her bachelor's degree in law and society from UCSB; masters in counseling and guidance from California State University, Northridge; and a masters of divinity degree from the School of Theology at Claremont.

Inspired by the Rev. Marjorie N. Leaming, Bets was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister in 1986. She and Peter were instrumental in founding the Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Goleta, Calif., in 1986.

A natural leader, Bets served as president of the Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Sisterhood and the Pacific Southwest UUMA Chapter, on the Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Association (UUMA) executive committee, and on the board of Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Locally, she served on Pacifica Graduate Institute's Board. After a successful 18-year career in the parish ministry, Bets retired and worked as a ministerial settlement representative in the Pacific Southwest District and offered local courses on Writing Your Spiritual Autobiography.

Six women ministers credit her nurturing and inspiration as essential to their pursuit of ministry. Countless colleagues and friends remember her grace, good humor and kindness.

In addition to being a prolific reader and avid Scrabble player, one of her favorite past times was spending time with her grandchildren: Nicolaus, Amelie, Bryna, Benjamin and Alexandra.

Bets is survived by her husband Dr. Peter O. Haslund; sister Evelyn (Lynnie) Wienecke and her partner Oscar George; son William C. Gourley III and his wife Rev. Melitta Lynne Haslund; daughter Elizabeth Ann Gourley and her husband Dr. Steven Stufflebeam; stepdaughter Christina Ann Haslund and her husband Daniel Fitzgerald; niece Amie Fanning and her family; and Bets' five grandchildren. 

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 24 at Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Goleta. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Live Oak UU Congregation (Capital Fund, 820 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta, CA 93117) or Direct Relief International.

— Rev. Melitta L. Haslund


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