Death of Henry Telfer Mook, former Southern Asia Executive and board member

Death of Henry Telfer Mook, former Southern Asia Executive and board member

Global Ministries has learned of the death of Henry Telfer Mook, former Southern Asia Executive and former board member.  He passed away Friday, May 23, 2008. 

Global Ministries honors the life and contribution of Edwin Telfer Mook, former Southern Asia Executive and former board member.

Telfer Mook died in California on May 23 aged 91. He had had a long and varied career, first as a lawyer, then as a minister in the United Church of Christ, then as a manager of church-supported development activities in India and Sri Lanka, and finally as an environmentalist and community organizer in northern Michigan.

Telfer was educated at Dartmouth College, Cambridge University in England, Yale Law School, and the Chicago Theological Seminary. During World War II he learned Japanese and served in US naval intelligence in the Pacific. After the war, he started a law practice in Des Moines (Iowa), became actively involved in local politics, and was one of the early US advocates of the city manager form of government. In 1950, he entered the Christian ministry and moved to Oak Park (Illinois), where he became a pastor in a local church.

In 1958, after a short assignment in a church in Concord (New Hampshire), he became the India/Sri Lanka Secretary for the United Church Board for World Ministries in New York City. During his 25 years in this position, he was actively involved in the founding of the Churches of South India and North India, as well as in liaison activities between the Tamil and Sinhalese communities in Sri Lanka.

In 1983, he and his wife “retired” to Benzie County (Michigan). One of his first projects there was the building of the Michigan Shores cooperative retirement community in Frankfort. The Michigan Shores model quickly became recognized nationally, and Telfer soon received numerous requests to build similar facilities in locations as diverse as Alaska and New Mexico.

But he was committed to Benzie County. In 1994, he therefore became heavily involved in the founding of the Citizens for Positive Planning, a grass-roots coalition committed to drawing up and implementing an economic, social, and environmental master plan. He also served as interim minister of the First Congregational Church in Benzonia and was recognized as Benzie Country “Citizen of the Year.”

In 1940, Telfer married Jane Day Parker of Des Moines. She died in 2007, soon after their 67th wedding anniversary. They had four children.

A memorial service is planned for Sunday, July 13th at 2:00pm in Benzonia, Michigan at First Congregational Church of Benzonia, United Church of Christ, 900 Barber Street, Benzonia, Michigan 49616 (Ph: 231.882.4922)

Telfer Mook Memorial Page