Former Kalaupapa Pastor Dies
Lon Arthur Rycraft
October 24, 1951 – April 30, 2017
Lon Arthur Rycraft, 65, died Sunday, April 30, 2017, at Oregon Health Sciences University due to complications from surgery.
Lon was born October 24, 1951 in Corvallis, Oregon, the son of Eleanor Platt and Carroll Rycraft. He grew up in Corvallis and attended Oregon State University, receiving his Bachelor of Science in 1973. After graduating from OSU, he attended Claremont School of Theology in California and received his Doctor of Ministry in 1981. He was ordained at the First Congregation Church, UCC in Corvallis, Oregon.
During his years as a minister he served as Pastor at Hilo Coast UCC in Honomu, Hawaii; Director of the East Hawaii Coalition for the Homeless, and Associate Pastor of Church of the Holy Cross UCC, both in Hilo, Hawaii.
For 11 years he was Pastor at Kana’ana Hou-Siloama UCC in Kalaupapa, Hawaii. Located on the remote Kalaupapa Peninsula on the Island of Molokai, it is the location of the last Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) settlement in the United States-now designated as a National Historical Park.
Lon served as Interim Pastor at St. John’s UCC, Tillamook, Oregon before becoming the Pastor at Normandy Park UCC in Seattle, Washington and serving there until November 2016 when he retired and moved back to the family farm in Corvallis, Oregon where he had grown up.
Lon leaves a legacy of a well-lived life that made a difference. During his time at the Church of the Holy Cross in Hilo, he served as the first chaplain for the hospice professional team, which was the first hospice on the island of Hawaii. He was deeply involved in social justice issues. As director of coalition for the homeless he organized the opening of the first homeless shelter on the island of Hawaii. Lon also established a retreat and study center at Kalaupapa that is still active.
He especially loved sharing children’s sermons, and singing and playing the ukulele and the guitar. Recently he took piano lessons. He enjoyed writing poetry, and learning all about bonsai. Lon said he especially liked “getting out into the natural world to experience the incredible beauty of God’s creation.” It was not unusual to see his station wagon with a kayak on top ready for his next adventure.
Lon is survived by his wife, Ellen Christine Storm; his daughter, Megan Rycraft of Hilo Hawaii; sisters, Judy Juntunen of Corvallis, Oregon; Erin Rycraft of Canon City, Colorado; and brother, Robin Rycraft of Emmett, Idaho.
A memorial service will be held at the First Congregational Church UCC on Saturday, May 13th at 1:00 p.m. with a reception following after the service.
Donations can be made to the following organizations. Ka’Ohana O, Kalaupapa, P.O. Box 1111, Kalaupapa, Hawaii 96742. Lon was one of the founding members of this non-profit organization which is dedicated to promoting the value and dignity of every individual who was taken from their family and sent to Kalaupapa beginning in 1866. The Corvallis Daytime Drop-in Center, P.O. Box 1705, Corvallis, Oregon 97339. Lon worked here as a volunteer. The Center provides a variety of services to persons who are homeless and/or low income.