Theodora “Dody” Elkinton Waring

WaringTheodora “Dody” Elkinton Waring, 93, on August 23, 2020, peacefully at the home of her daughter, Abby, in Brunswick, Maine. Dody was born Theodora Elkinton on March 7, 1927, to Howard West Elkinton and Katharine Mason Elkinton, both Quakers, in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. Dody attended Germantown Friends School as her mother and grandmother had before her. In 1938, while her parents were performing Quaker work in Berlin, Germany, Dody and her older brother spent seventh grade in the Netherlands at a school for German-Jewish children. This experience left an indelible mark on her.

Dody spent summers during her teen years at Quaker work camps. She attended Smith College for two years, and in 1946 married Tom Waring, who was also from a Quaker family in Germantown. In their first summer together the newlyweds joined an American Friends Service Committee work crew and boarded a ship to Finland, where they built houses and distributed relief supplies to Finnish families who had been displaced by the Russian invasion.

Back in the United States, Dody focused on raising five children: Christopher, Katherine, Nathaniel, Abigail, and Lydia. After living and participating in meetings in Denver, Colo., and Doylestown, Pa., the family settled in Cambridge, Mass. Tom was the headmaster of the newly founded Cambridge Friends School. Dody ran the school’s library. She finished college, graduating from Simmons University in Boston with a bachelor’s degree in 1971, then completed a master’s degree (education) at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., in 1972.

Dody and Tom bought land in New Hampshire, and the family spent many weekends and summers enjoying rustic wilderness life. Dody delighted in the natural world throughout her life.

When visiting her daughter at Earlham College in 1972, Dody had a profound spiritual experience. She stepped from nominal into serious Quakerism. She completed a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate (ministry) from Boston University.

Dody worked as a hospital chaplain at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston for 15 years until her retirement in 1993. During this time she served as the Boston national chair of College Chaplains Membership Committee and three terms as president of the Massachusetts Chaplains Association..

Dody was a longtime and beloved member of Wellesley (Mass.) Meeting, going back to its founding in 1958. Over the decades, Dody contributed to Wellesley Meeting in numerous ways. She served on Ministry and Counsel, was on Hospitality, Nominating, and Religious Education Committees, and was the recording clerk. She rarely failed to attend meetings for business, expressing her ideas with passion and thoughtful attention to Quaker testimonies. Dody was among the first to give a warm welcome to newcomers. Her ministry was heartfelt and memorable, often containing quotes from the Bible.

Already in her eighties in 2015 when she moved to Brattleboro, Vt., Dody quickly became integral to the life of Putney (Vt.) Meeting. She served on numerous committees and spoke often during meetings for worship. Her simple messages touched many members and attenders.

Dody was active in New England Yearly Meeting, serving on the Ministry and Counsel Committee, Moses Brown Board, and Correspondence Committee.

After she and Tom were divorced in 1979 and once her children were grown, Dody worked, traveled, and found ways to serve, as her parents had before her. She valued the friendships she made and maintained connections through letters and visits.

At age 76, Dody wrote her memoir, A Sacred Trust, chronicling the long history of Quaker service and faith in her family since 1816.

Dody is survived by her children, Christopher Waring (Maria Baker Waring), Katherine (Frank) Block, Nathaniel Waring (Sunny Tappan), Abigail (Jeffrey) Robbins, Lydia (Timothy) Meyer; 12 grandchildren; and 42 great-grandchildren.

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