E. Braintree, VT
—Rev. Samuel Burtner Ulrich, 73, died Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 at home.
He was born in Hamden, Conn. to William and Helen Ulrich on September 24, 1939, the youngest of three sons. He was educated in Hamden and then at Dartmouth College, graduating in 1963. While at college, he was on the student vestry of St. Thomas’ Church, Hanover, N.H., and president of Germania and an officer of Zeta Psi Fraternity. He graduated from Berkeley Divinity School in 1967. At the seminary, he had been a student assistant in the Department of Theology, Order Librarian and an officer in the student government. He did summer work in the refugee camps of the World Y.M.C.A. in Austria, completed his field work at the Bishop Seabury Memorial Church in Groton, Conn. and clinical pastoral training at Boston State Mental Hospital. Although officially Samuel Burtner, young “Burt,” as he was known at home and through college and seminary days, he became S. Burtner upon graduation, and more familiarly “Burt” to friends and associates in the community and “Father Burt” to many in the parish family. The Rev. S. Burtner Ulrich came to St. John’s Getty Square as a young deacon in the summer of 1967, and took up residence at 1 Hudson Street on the top floor in a tiny apartment on the church property. He was ordained to the priesthood in December 1967 and became an Assistant Rector, now officially The Reverend S. Burtner Ulrich. St. John’s rector, The Reverend Lemuel J. Winterbottom, encouraged young Burt to become active in community life, and in 1968 he joined the newly formed Clergy of Yonkers, made up of interested clergy of all denominations. He served as president from 1974-1978. Interested in the economic and social development of the Yonkers urban area, and especially in the intricacies of housing management, Father Ulrich completed a course in 1969 at a local college, and although not active any longer, he was a member of the Community Housing Management Corporation since 1972. In July of 1975, while still on the staff of St. John’s, Burt Ulrich became the Founder and Executive Director of CLUSTER, Inc.—Congregations Linked in Urban Strategy to Effect Renewal—an organization committed to improving the quality of life for the mentally ill, the young, old, and disenfranchised. Father Ulrich was instrumental in founding the first Supportive Apartment at Riverview Tower, in downtown Yonkers for those persons newly-released from mental institutions and in need of support for eventual re-entry into daily life again on their own. In 1981, following the death of the Reverend Lemuel J. Winterbottom, the Reverend S. Burtner Ulrich was installed as the 25th Rector of St. John’s, Getty Square. Having been appointed by Governor Mario Como in 1983 to the Board of Visitors of the Rockland Psychiatric Center, he served from 1983 to 1989. Traditionally, the Rector of St. John’s was always more than a religious leader; he was a community organizer as well. Together with his friend and colleague, the Reverend John Duffel, Pastor of Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Burt faced the crisis of homelessness and so, in the bitter, freezing winter of 1983, they sought to provide food and shelter for the homeless at St. John’s and St. Peters. In 1983, Father Ulrich became a founder and president of the Board of Trustees of the Sharing Community, Inc., the service provider of not only a soup kitchen and shelter today, but the many support groups and outreach programs dealing with substance abuse, HIV-AIDS, job training, housing, etc. A trustee on the Board of St. John’s Riverside Hospital, founded by St. John’s Church in 1869, he had been a past chairman of the Board of Riverside Health Care Systems, Inc. Since 1985, he was a member of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, American Chapter, and in 1989 he was advanced to Chaplain. A member of the Yonkers Historical Society, in 1989 Father Ulrich was awarded the “Key to History.” On the occasion of Father Ulrich’s 30th Anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, in November 1998, the City of Yonkers erected a sign re-naming Hudson Street from Riverdale Avenue to South Broadway as Reverend S. Burtner Ulrich Lane. He served as Trustee of the Diocese and Cathedral, Chair of the Canon Committee and the Diocesan Adjustment Board, and in June 1999 he was awarded “The Bishops Cross” by the Right Reverend Richard R. Grien, 14th Bishop of New York. Interested in the community, and aware of the city’s plans for urban and waterfront renewal, he convinced the city that the Philipsburgh Building could be brought back to its former elegance and play a part in the revitalization of the downtown Getty Square area, and provide not only a living space for artists, but a place that would bring arts and culture back to the Yonkers downtown—a place were they once were centered in years past. Renovation was slow, but finally completed in 2002 and so Burt’s vision for the Getty Square and Waterfront area may become a reality before long. After retiring in 2006, he occasionally provided over services at St. John’s Church in Randolph, where he was an active member.
He is survived by two brothers, William of Connecticut, and Peter of Maryland; and his friend, Bob Kershaw of East Braintree.
Calling hours will take place Saturday, Oct. 13 from 9 a.m.-noon at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Summer Street in Randolph. A funeral service will follow at noon at the church, with a reception afterwards at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. John's Episcopal Church, 15 Summer St., Randolph, Vt. 0560. Anyone who would like to share memories of him may go to Facebook and type in memory of revsburtnerulrich in the search box.
A memorial service will be held at 10:00am Saturday, November 17th at St. John's Episcopal Church, Getty Square, Yonkers, NY.