Rev. Kimball Cartwright
As First Congregational Church celebrates its 300th Birthday, we recall a beloved pastor of the church; the following was written upon his retirement in 2008-
“You will know when and if God calls you to the ministry; it will be so clear that you will not be able to forget it or turn away from it.” E. Hickcox
As a boy, Kim Cartwright was fortunate indeed: he grew up in rural Woodbury, where opportunities for boyish adventure were abundant. Kim was part of a loving and close-knit family of four, who were active in Woodbury’s North Congregational Church.
Kim’s mother Erminie was among other things his musical inspiration; she gave him piano lessons for seven years, and then mother and son traveled around Connecticut, performing piano and organ duets at area churches.
His father, E. Minor Cartwright was a design engineer for Chase Brass; ever the inventor, he created a motorcar that young Kim could drive around the family’s two acre lot; it had a mowing attachment, so that Kim could combine work with play! In addition, Minor Cartwright was a bass soloist; clearly there was a lot of musical interest in the Cartwright home.
Kim was always interested in the sciences: behind the family home, there was a clubhouse; within it were shortwave radios, chemistry sets, and clocks to take apart and rebuild—exciting things for a young man with an active mind. From his time in the clubhouse, young Kim began to dream of a career in chemistry or mathematics.
However, his minister, Dr. Edward S. Hickcox saw something else in Kim: during his high school and college years, he asked him again and again, “Have you ever considered the ministry?” From time to time, Dr. Hickcox took Kim along on pastoral calls—an unforgettable experience. He loaned a book to him, “The Romance of the Ministry,” who devoured it with great interest.
Kim Cartwright graduated from Woodbury High School in 1961; he completed his studies for his B.A. in math and graduated from Middlebury (Vermont) College in 1965. By then, Kim had heard and heeded the unmistakable call to the ministry; in 1969, he graduated from Union Theological Seminary in New York City with his Master’s Degree in Divinity.
Somewhere in the midst of all of that education, he found time to court and marry Patricia Palin, the sister of one of his best friends. The first time Kim met Pat, she was typing a term paper in her brother’s dorm room; a year later, Kim and Pat met again, as she was knitting a sweater at Middlebury College. In a bold move, Kim asked Pat if she would knit a sweater for him, “if I provide the yarn,” he said. Later that summer, Kim showed up at Silver Lake, where Pat was the summer camp nurse, and presented her with a bag full of yarn and some knitting needles. The rest, as they say, is history; they were married in 1968, and had four children. That’s quite a yarn, isn’t it? (Sorry, bad pun.)
It is said that who we will become in life is the direct result of the books we have read and the people we have met—Kim Cartwright is a good example of this principle. While studying in New York City, he met and was inspired by Maudy and Michael, a couple who had chosen to be homeless and to help others. “We’re not homeless, for the world is out home,” they would say to Kim. It was from their example that Kim learned not to become attached to material things and places. Maudy and Michael are often in Kim’s thoughts, and have often been mentioned in his sermons.
Following his formal education, Kim Cartwright spent his working years at three churches in Connecticut and Massachusetts, before becoming our minister in June of 1998. As our pastor, Kim will depart this month and enter into his retirement—and he will be missed.
What will Kim do with his “retirement?” He and Pat will continue to live in West Haven, and he will continue to answer the call to minister unto others—through mission work, interim ministry and other pastoral services. We hope he will save some time to spend with his stated hobbies: Piano, guitar, tennis, skiing, camping, hiking, model building, juggling (!), painting, musical concerts, etc. etc. He is a man of many and varied interests!
We are indeed fortunate to have had Kim Cartwright in our midst for these past ten years, for he is a man of great and inspiring faith. A favorite Bible quotation of Kim’s is from Jeremiah: “If with all your heart, ye truly seek Me, you shall surely find Me. Thus says the Lord.” Amen.