[Cabin and Addition Donors and Namesakes]

Rev. Dr. William Woofenden
Louise Dole Woofenden
donors of

built in 1955

ED. NOTE: There are still a few photos to be added to this page.

Bill & Louise Woofenden sometime in the 1970s in front of the Fryeburg New Church.


William Ross Woofenden was born on May 28, 1921 in Mull, Ontario, Canada while his parents, Ross Woofenden and Emily Anne Yeomans Woofenden of Detroit MI, were visiting Emily's parents. Hence, he had dual citizenship his entire life.

Louise Dole Woofenden was born November 27, 1927 in Fryeburg ME to Rev. Louis A. & Anita Sturges Dole. Rev. Dole was the pastor of the Fryeburg New Church and one of the three co-founders of the FNCA. Anita Dole is the author of the Dole Bible Study Notes used in many of our church Sunday Schools. Both Louise's older sister Gertrude and her younger brother George became ministers... and she married one.

Bill's Early Life

Bill grew up in Detroit with his older brother Robert, where their family regularly attended the Church of the Holy City in Detroit. After graduating from Cass Technical High School in 1938, he pursued a career as a typsetter and proofreader, beginning at a print shop in Detroit with a 6-year printers union apprenticeship.

He joined the Army on March 2, 1942, shortly after the U.S. entered World War II. He was assigned to Company A, 13th Engineer Battalion, and spent time in the Aleutians, Philippines, Hawaii, and Okinawa. He reached T/5 (technician fifth grade) and served as his company quartermaster during most of his service. He was awarded the Asian-Pacific Theater Campaign Medal, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, and the Good Conduct Medal, and was honorably discharged October 1, 1945.

After the war, he returned to Detroit, finished his printers' apprenticeship, got his journeyman's card, and moved to New York City where he quickly found employment in the printing trade while taking marketing and advertising courses at NYU. Within 4 years, however, he became disillusioned with Madison Avenue, quit school, and after some sage advice from an astute aptitude test interviewer, decided to enter the ministry.

In 1949, he enrolled in the New Church Theological School in Cambridge MA where Rev. Louis A. Dole was a part-time faculty member and his wife Anita was a board member.

Louise's Early Life

Louise lived the first 10 years of her life in Fryeburg ME, where her father, Rev. Louis A. Dole, was pastor of the Fryeburg New Church. Then, in 1937, the family moved to Bath ME when her father accepted a call to become the minister of the Church of the New Jerusalem there.

She graduated from Morse High School in 1945 as class valedictorian. She went on to higher education at Wellesley College in Wellesley MA where she majored in classical archeology, graduating cum laude in 1949.

At this time, Louise and her older sister Gertrude were living together in Newtonville MA, halfway between Wellesley College and the Theological School in Cambridge.

Marraige & Family

© September 3, 1950In 1949, while she was visiting her parents at the Theological School, Bill and Louise met. They married September 3, 1950 in Bath ME. 

Over the next 14 years, they had eight children:
Ross (1951),
Jane (1953),
Laura (1954), Trevor (1956),
Ian (1958),
Lee (1960),
Ellen (1962), and
Todd (1964).

Career, Pursuits, and Moving Around

While attending theological school, Bill also attended classes at Harvard Divinity School and received his bachelor's degree from Boston University in 1952. He finished his religious studies and was ordained at Convention in 1953.

Immediately following ordination, Bill's ministry first took their young family (just 1 child) to the New Church in New York City, where he also preached at the Church of the Neighbor, a Swedenborgian congregation in Brooklyn. Bill continued his higher education in NYC at New York University.

Louise was also very active in the church, teaching Sunday School and serving on various committees, all the while taking care of their home and an ever-increasing number of children, often making their children's clothing herself. She continued as a Sunday School teacher and member of various church committees at each of Bill's parishes throughout the next 3+ decades.

In the summer of 1957, Bill answered a call from his home church, the Church of the Holy City in Detroit, and Bill & Louise moved their growing family (4 kids) to Ferndale MI near where he had grown up. There, the Woofendens regularly spent time with "Grammy & Grampa Woof" and their Uncle Bob & Aunt Hazel and cousin Billy (named after Bill).

1958 saw Bill serving the national church both on the General Council's Placement Committee and as president of the American Sunday School Association.

The family had enjoyed outdoor camping together for many years but as the family grew larger and larger, tent camping became more and more difficult. So they bought a used school bus and Bill put his handyman skills to work converting it into a family camper that slept the entire family.

In the summer of 1963, Bill & Louise moved their nearly complete family (7 kids, 1 more to go!) to Des Plaines IL in the suburbs of Chicago where Bill served as pastor of the Good Shepherd Community Church, living in the parsonage next door.

At this point, Bill & Louise decided to upgrade their camper bus, so in 1967 they bought a used Greyhound bus which Bill worked on in his spare time and had ready for the family's use that summer.

Over Christmas vacation of 1967, the now complete family moved to Webster Groves MO outside St. Louis, where Bill became the pastor of the Church of the Open Word in Creve Coeur. Bill earned his Master's degree in 1969 and his PhD in 1971, both from St. Louis University.

© Trevor 2019Meanwhile, Louise was knitting up a storm, churning out sweaters, scarves, hats, mittens, and sundry other items in large quantities. She also began organic gardening, tending a large backyard vegetable garden to help feed their large family.

And then the children began leaving the nest.

In the summer of 1971, they packed up the family again and moved to Sharon MA outside of Boston. Bill took on the pastorate of the New Jerusalem Church in Bridgewater MA and, in 1974, joined the faculty of the New Church Theological School (which was in Newton MA at the time) as well as teaching at Curry College in Milton MA.

Settling In in Sharon

In January of 1974, Bill founded and began publishing issues of Studia Swedenborgiana, "an occasional magazine devoted to philosophical and theological concepts found in, or related to, the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg." The final printed volume was published in December 2005, edited by Rev. Dr. James Lawrence, dean of the theological school (which is now located in Berkely CA). It continues as an online journal here.

Sometime in the 1970s, some of their children took to calling their father "Pop". Then, here at the FNCA (where Bill taught the teen class for decades) as well as at League retreats (which Bill participated in a lot in the 1970s and 1980s), with so many Woof sibs calling their father "Pop", the other teens began calling him "Pop Woof". Evidently, Bill & Louise both liked this because with her trusty button maker, Louise made Bill a pin-back "Pop Woof" button which he wore frequently. The name quickly caught on. Soon, many of his relatives and friends, and eventually even many of his peers and co-workers, were affectionately calling Bill "Pop Woof" or simply "Pop". Louise, of course, readily and willingly became "Mom Woof".

Soon after they moved to Massachusetts, Louise, an avid naturalist, began volunteering at Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon where they lived, and continued there for three decades.

In 1980, Bill joined the Swedenborg Scientific Association (SSA), serving on the Board of Directors from then until 1999. During most of that time, he was also chairman of the SSA's Publication Committee. 

In 1984, Louise finished a huge, multi-year project: the publication of the fourth and final volume of The Sunday School Activity Book, a collection of activities she created to accompany each lesson in the Dole Bible Study Notes, which were written by her mother, Anita S. Dole. These lessons have been very widely used by Convention churches' Sunday Schools.

In 1988, Bill also completed a project that had first occured to him in the late 1960s when he was writing his doctoral dissertion, the publication of the Swedenborg Researcher's Manual, "A Research Reference Manual for Writers of Academic Dissertations, and for Other Scholars". The second and third editions, published in 2002 and 2008, were retitled Swedenborg Explorer's Guidebook, "A Research Manual for Inquiring New Readers, Seekers of Spiritual Ideas, and Writers of Swedenborgian Treatises".

Then, from 1994-1998, Bill took on another huge task: series editor of the redesigned Standard Edition of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg (a.k.a. "The Green 30").

Bill retired from active ministry in 1985, and finished up teaching at the theological school in the spring of 1994.

During this time, Louise was the editor, writer, and illustrator for Five Smooth Stones, the monthly magazine of the New Church Sunday School Association. She was also the archivist for the theological school for many years.

They stayed in the house in Sharon for over 30 years, the longest they lived anywhere. Then in 2004, they sold their home and moved into an addition they built on the back of their youngest son Todd's house in Bowdoinham ME... Louise was at long last back living in her beloved Maine! And they were living, not only next to their son, but there were also two of their 24 grandchildren with them!

Hobbies and Leisure

Bill was an active tennis player throughout much of his life; an avid photographer who built his own darkroom in each house they lived in; and lifelong music fan, especially of jazz. In fact, he was such a groupie of the New Black Eagles Jazz Band that he knew all the musicians and their wives personally, knew all their substitute musicians, knew their entire repertoire, owned all their recordings and listened to them repeatedly, and was both absolutely stunned and completely thrilled in May 2001 when the band showed up in their backyard in Sharon (hired by one of his kids) and played for his 80th birthday party!

Throughout her life, Louise was an accomplished watercolorist. Many of her paintings adorn the walls at the Assembly. She excelled at everything she put her hand to, including: knitting, sewing, tatting, stenciling, line drawing, gardening, writing, editing, archiving, and organizing historic materials.

Bill & Louise at the FNCA

They were both very active at the FNCA.

© FNCA 2000

Louise attended all her life, missing only a very few summer sessions until she neared the end of her life. She taught children's religious classes for at least two decades. She was camp Registrar for nearly as long, hand lettering and later typing out the annual Bulletin and adorning it with her own artwork. After that, she was appointed official Camp Historian in 1990 and collected a significant amount of historical information that would have been lost otherwise. One of her historical articles about camp is on this site here. She often referred to the FNCA as "the hub of the Universe."

Bill began coming to camp in the early 1950s after they got married. He was on the lecture staff continuously from 1952-1989, with the exception of the 2 or 3 years they didn't attend. He was elected to the Board in 1952 and served continuously for nearly 4 decades. He was Vice-President for many years (and was even V.P. of both Fryeburg and Almont at least one year: 1962!), and served as FNCA President/Camp Director from 1980-1988. He often referred to the FNCA as "the best place on Earth."

Together, they ran and/or were part of the FNCA opening and closing crew for at least 20 years, with Pop Woof's handyman skills and Mom Woof's organizational skills playing a large part in getting the place ready before camp and shutting things down afterwards.

© Anna Rich 2009They were both a major part of the Assembly for all or most of their lives. Their last visit together was 3 delightful days (for everyone!) in 2009.

Heaven Becomes a Better Place

Pop Woof died May 4, 2012, just three weeks before his 91st birthday. On his 90th birthday he had said, "I always hoped I'd make it to 90. [...long *sigh*...] Hope I don't make it to 91." And true to his word as usual, he didn't. That's Pop Woof!

Mom Woof died seven months later on January 18, 2013. Earlier that month, she had woken up one chilly morning in Maine and, thinking about how empty her life had become, exclaimed, "I'm sick of this!" And proceeded to (presumably purposefully) die just 2 weeks later. That's Mom Woof!

© Trevor 2011


[Cabin and Addition Donors and Namesakes]

84 Main St, Fryeburg, ME 04037 (map)