Obituary: William M. Moremen

Father, minister, author, record-setting racewalker

William Merrill (Bill) Moremen died peacefully on October 17 at Pilgrim Place Health Services Center, with his wife present.

He was 95 years old.

Bill was born in Long Beach, California on December 22, 1927 to Raymond and Alice Northrup Moremen. The whole family was active in the First Congregational Church of Long Beach where Bill’s father, Raymond Moremen was minister of music. In 1939 the Moremen family moved to West Los Angeles where his father became a professor of music at UCLA and a minister of music at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Santa Monica. He was in the youth group at church and went to Emerson Junior High School and then University High School.

In 1945 he entered Pomona College. He was elected freshman class president and later student body president. He was a track athlete, sang in the glee club and was active in the Pomona College Christian Association.

After graduating from Pomona in 1949 he spent a year in New York City in different life settings, including working in a factory and selling encyclopedias. In the fall of 1950 he entered the University of Chicago Divinity School, graduating in 1953 with a Master of Divinity degree. That same year he married Grace Ellen Partin, who was also a Pomona College graduate, in Los Angeles. They returned to Chicago where Grace pursued a master’s degree in religion and art, and he became a ministerial intern at a Lutheran church and later studied a year at Maywood Lutheran Seminary.

Together the couple studied for a year at Mansfield College at Oxford University in England. Returning to Los Angeles and to his Congregational roots, in 1956 he was ordained to ministry in the United Church of Christ Congregational.

The couple have three children, Margaret Moremen, whose husband is John Dreyfuss, John Moremen, whose wife is Suzanne Racho, and Katherine Moremen, whose partner is Mark Zannini.

Over a 36 year period he served UCC churches in Tehachapi, San Bernardino, the inner city of Los Angeles, downtown Washington, D.C., and Hayward, California.

In Washington he was a founding member of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, serving on the organization’s board and program staff. In the San Francisco Bay Area he was a founding member of the Pacific Center for Spiritual Formation, teaching and serving on the board. He served for three summers at Mercy Center in Burlingame, California, on staff for a program entitled “The art of spiritual direction.” His books include “Growing Spiritually and Professionally,” “Watch and Pray,” and in collaboration with others in the Northern California Conference of the UCC, “Spirit Awakening.” He is also the author of a memoir, “Living the Questions.”

In 1988, the couple took up the sport of racewalking. They joined the Golden Gate Racewalkers and competed in local, regional, national, and international races. Their travels to compete internationally took them to Japan, South Africa, England, Spain, Italy, Finland, Brazil, and France.

The couple moved to Pilgrim Place in Claremont in 1998. There he served on many committees and work groups and for many years had a garden plot in Dean’s Garden. He also played banjo in the Pilgrim Pickers, was active in the discussion group Doing Theology, and contributed articles to the organization’s annual publication.

In Southern California, the couple continued racewalking, first in the Southern California Walkers Club of Pasadena, and eventually a group that met at the Pomona College track, the Pilgrim Pacers. The group grew to about 30 members. In 2015, 16 of the Pacers competed in Lyon, France and many won medals. He holds a number of racewalking records and in 2014, won a world record in the 10k in his 85-89 age group. He loved teaching, competing in, and coaching this wonderful sport.

He is survived by his wife Grace; his three children and their spouses; and his sister Helen Moremen Turner and her husband Dean Turner.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, December 9 at Claremont United Church of Christ, 233 Harrison Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Claremont UCC at


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