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Bill Ogren biography

This fund is established by Bill Ogren’s family – parents Ken and Marjorie, brother James, and sister Jan – to honor Bill’s life and his service to the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis.

William Kenneth Ogren was born April 6, 1950, in Washington D.C. Bill and his two younger siblings were all raised Unitarian Universalist (UU). Bill was active in the religious education (RE) program at the UU congregation of Fairfax, VA, first as a child and then as a youth volunteer. His father worked as an agricultural diplomat and the family moved to Paris, France in 1967. Bill graduated from the American School of Paris in 1969. While in France he explored the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and worked a summer at Heathrow airport in London, England. He loved art and became friends with artists and enjoyed showing people around museums.

Both of Bill’s parents grew up on farms in Minnesota and so he chose Augsburg College in Minneapolis to be near his beloved grandmother Emma Ogren. Bill attended Augsburg from 1969 to 1973. He was so well-spoken and well-liked that family and friends thought he might become a diplomat, like his father, or maybe a curator of a museum or art gallery.

But in 1972 Bill’s life radically changed. It became apparent that he had some kind of illness that changed his brain function. He couldn’t communicate or process information they way he used to. He was homeless for a while and lost contact with family. Nevertheless, Bill managed to come through this time with a focus on being kind, generous, and helpful. He rarely used a phone, no longer drove a car, and never used a computer in his life. But he could wash dishes, set up tables for banquets, and make people happy. He worked at restaurants and hotels often receiving recognition as Employee of the Month and in 1977, Employee of the Year for the Registry Hotel in Minneapolis. When his mind no longer functioned as it used to, he opened his heart.

Bill joined First Unitarian Society in the 1970s and was a devoted member, best remembered as the “Rock and Roll Dishwasher.” He was always ready to help with a smile and a song. He loved children and knew the name and something significant about every child and youth at FUS. He loved donating any extra money he received to the RE program. In his heart he kept that child- like joy, dancing, and singing his way through life.

In 2010 the FUS youth program was planning a trip to Boston to visit the central headquarters of UUA. Bill was very proud to be able to sign over both his birthday check and a Christmas check to help the youth go on their trip. He wanted everyone to have the benefit and opportunities that he had all his life, being a Unitarian Universalist.

Bill died peacefully in his sleep on March 10, 2021, just shy of his 71st birthday.

The Ogren family has set aside $100,000 for an endowment fund in memory of Bill. The fund is an open fund to which others may also contribute. Given Bill’s parents’ enthusiasm in raising their children as Unitarian Universalists and Bill’s focus on UU youth, the endowment fund is specifically for FUS youth and young adults to support their yearly trips to General Assembly, to Boston, and other social action projects. It is assumed that the annual grants from the fund will be matched with funding from other sources, including fundraising activities of the

participants in the programs it supports. A goal of the fund is to ensure that no young person will be kept from participating in such programs due to lack of resources.

The Ogren family hopes that the Bill Ogren Fund helps the beneficiaries have enjoyable, enriching experiences and to deepen their connection to Unitarian Universalism.

A smiling white bald man wearing a black suit coat over a white pin striped shirt and tie.
Bill Ogren

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