Congregational Church of Austin,
United Church of Christ
Men's Book Club

Club Coordinator: Rambie Briggs
Ph. 512 267-4832

Previous Coordinator: Dave Ross

Email Rambie

Club History:

The book club started in 1992 and consisted of men from the Congregational Church of Austin, United Church of Christ at 408 23rd St, near the University of Texas. Meetings were hosted monthly by members of the club. As the years passed members would invite friends to attend and often they would become permanent members and added a rich diversity of interests and backgrounds to the mix.




April Meeting
The Gene: An Intimate History
by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
at the home of
Jim Keeler
7:30 P. M.
Phone: 512-897-7391
1807 Cresthaven
Austin, TX 78704
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2017 Schedule
Date Book Title Author Host
February 15, 2017 Palace of Treason Jason Matthews Gordon Huth
March 15, 2017 News of the World: A Novel Paulette Jiles Sam Sutherland
April 19, 2017 The Gene: An Intimate History Siddhartha Mukherjee Jim Keeler
May 17, 2017 Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis J. D. Vance Jim Vick
June 10, 2017 Poetry at the Lake with the Women's Book Club Bring Your Own Rambie & Fran Briggs
July 19, 2017 The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself Sean Carroll Roger Bengtson
August 16, 2017 Olive Kittridege: Fiction Elizabeth Strout Carl Hehmoth
September 20, 2017 The Vanquished: Why the First World War Was Failed to End Robert Gerwarth Al Lindsey
October 18, 2017 Moonglow: A Novel Michael Chabon Dennis Murphy
November 15, 2017 The Underground Railroad: A Novel Colson Whitehead Mel Oakes
December, 2017 No Meeting    
January 17, 2018 Books Selection None Dave Ross
February 21, 2018 A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters Julian Barnes Don Brown



In Memoriam

John Chesley Towery (1925-2014)
Charter Member of Book Club
John was the minster of the Congregational Church of Austin, United Church of Christ, for 30 years. His impact on his congregation, his community and his family will long be felt in so many important ways. John, Ben, Matt and Jesse lived lives of service that most of us can only aspire to. However they left a well marked path for us to follow. -Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies



Jesse Stone Binford (1928-2014)
Member of Book Club
Jesse and his wife Lolita came to Austin in 1955 to join the UT Chemistry Faculty, He was very active in the Congregational Church of Austin. He spent most of his career at the University of South Florida. In 2003, following retirement, they returned to Austin. Jesse was a principled and caring man who fought injustice all his life. His support of the less fortunate was a corner stone of his life of service. -Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies


Mathis Wilholte Blackstock (1925-2012)
Charter Member of Book Club
How fortunate our book club was to have four of the finest men most of us have ever known. To lose all over the past three years saddens us on many levels. What a privilege to have known them. Matt lived a life of dedication to his fellow man that stands tall. So many felt his healing touch. It continues. -Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies



Ben Henson White (1923-2011)
Charter Member of Book Club
When I received notes from the book club with the salutation "Gentlemen" I was never sure if I deserved the title, however, there was never a doubt that Ben did. I never knew a finer man. To be in his presence was a pleasure and an honor. His passion for justice and equality never flagged. His passing diminishes us all, and yet his life inspires us to reach higher. Ben accomplished much in his long life and kindness was his currency. -Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies

James Tomasek Jr. (1929-2005)
Charter Member of Book Club
Conversations with Jim always revealed some surprise about his life and career. From an early age he was concerned about racial justice and he chose pastoral appointments that gave him an opportunity to work toward equality. He was at the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech. He was disappointed that family responsibilities prevented him from participating in the Selma March. Jim and his wife Mary loved the theater and were involved since their school days. Jim’s dedication to justice and fairness is dearly missed. -Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies

David Z. Lippmann (1925-2015)

Following his WWII service in Francea David had a distinguished career as a research chemist at the forefront of the development of rocket engines, David was a professor of chemistry for 50 years. His resumé includes patents, many papers, and service to professional organizations. He enjoyed reading and writing outside of his discipline. He was a published author. Behind his quiet demeanor was an insightful thinker and a sensitive and critical observer of the world around him.

Link to Obituary

Carl Jennings Rigney (1925-2011)

WWII interupted Carl's education at UT. Following service in the US Navy, he continued his eduacation at U. of Louisville in electrical engineering on the GI Bill. He then completed a masters and doctorate at Northwestern University where he met his wife Margaret. Carl then had a number of temporary teaching jobs before returning to Texas where he had a distringuished career as an educator. He taught at Stephen F. Austin U. and at Lamar University where he served as chair. Carl was a kind and softspoken man with a deep concern for the less fortunate in society. His son, David, referred to him as a "progressive populist." My conversations with him enroute to bookclub were often about some social problem the country or the communty was facing. He always empathized with the less fortunate and vulnerable in our country. He was a man of principle wrapped in compassion.

Link to Obituary













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