March 2002

Honoring Florien J. Wineriter

~A Tribute~

Flo has served Humanists of Utah since the chapter was incorporated in February 1991. He has served as President since December 1991. February 2002 marks the end of his tenure as President, but the Board unanimously adopted a resolution making him an honorary member of the board for life.

Flo’s health is declining; he suffers from macular degeneration which has made him nearly blind. He also suffers from spinal stenosis which has made it very difficult fro him to get around.

In the spring of 2002 Flo had some serious health issues and we collected memories and tributes from chapter members and others in the freethought community. They remembered Flo and the tireless efforts he has unselfishly given to the cause of humanism.

Flo is my hero! When I grow up I want to be just like him.

–Wayne Wilson

As I approach eighty, the pleasures are few and far between. But one pleasure I still have is the weekly lunch with my dear friend Flo.

–Rolf Kay

My heartfelt gratitude to Flo for giving Humanism a voice in Utah–and what a voice: deep, rich quality combined with solid Humanist philosophy. Thanks so very much, Flo, for making Humanism a reality in this unlikely state of Utah, and for working in perfect harmony with the Unitarians. You are a true community builder, and your passion and conviction serve as wonderful inspiration to us all.

–Tom Goldsmith

For the wedding of our daughter Alice in the garden gazebo in Ogden, Flo in his red vest presided with dignity, humane hope and encouragement.

–William and Helen Mulder

Flo Wineriter is one of the great voices in this valley. I look up to, admire, and respect Flo and his accomplishments as much as any Utahn I’ve known or heard of. He is a truly great role model for all of us.

–Mark Fowler

I first encountered Flo Wineriter in my youth, as a voice on the radio. Not only was Flo’s voice rich and melodious, but he always delivered interesting and thoughtful messages. And what an unforgettable name!

Fast forward to the year 2000. My wife-to-be and I were deliberating over the wedding ceremony. We wanted to be married by someone in harmony with our beliefs. As confirmed “non-believers,” it was difficult to find a judge or other official to preside over a wedding without reference to a god. Someone referred me to Flo. I contacted him, we met, he offered us a draft of a wonderful ceremony that was in harmony with us. When the happy day arrived, Flo was there. Our ceremony was perfect. We were–and are–so grateful to him. In getting to know Flo a little, we were introduced to the Humanists of Utah, and knew that we had found an oasis of sanity in the theocratic desert of Utah. Thank you, Flo.

–Richard Garrard

I can’t express how much you have influenced me–I thought I was alone in the world as a Utah atheist. I can never thank you enough for the experiences you have provided me and my husband with the Humanists of Utah organization. Have a wonderful retirement.

–Brenda and Terry Wright

Flo-You are a teacher. My first remembrance of you was the two of us sitting in your backyard and talking about grief. We were both younger and thought we knew a lot. I listened, I learned (as I always have from you), and I have become a better person, able to help others because of what I have learned from you. Your influence is wide and always for good.

–Helen Rollins

Since no scientific evidence posits a life after death, when my father was dying from cancer, I was discouraged that I may never see him again. Flo gave me comfort and support.

–Sarah Smith

We have been associated with you, Flo, for 21 years. When we think of you, we are struck by your many talents. The Humanists, and other organizations, have all been blessed by your organizational skills, speaking ability, marketing sense, and willingness to “hang in there” by acclamation as our President all these years. It is a rare human being who can often speak his mind and yet not significantly offend others. Yes Flo, the courage to speak out and to speak your mind often is what we all can try to emulate. Thank you for your great service to us all.

Much love and admiration,

–Ron and Janet Anderson

I bet you don’t know how many times you have been responsible for the smile on my face…seeing you at the board meetings, humanist gatherings, sharing a hug. I remember when you called me at work and the secretary came into my office, big-eyed and excited, “Is that the Flo Wineriter?” Another smile and smug reply, “Yes, he’s my friend.” Well, my friend, thank you for the extraordinary services you have given the Humanists of Utah. Thank you for bringing excellent speakers, organizing meetings, hauling chairs, calling those who needed attention, recognizing the efforts of others and being so generous with your time. Thank you for exemplifying humanism. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being such a good friend. Thank you for the many smiles that have risen on my face and seeped into my heart. I love you.

Your friend,
–Anna Hoagland

Flo, what you’ve gifted to me in the short time that I have known you is a more profound respect for the power of determination. Thank You!

–Mary K. Sanderson

When I first attended a general meeting of the Humanists of Utah, I remember best those dulcet tones coming from the podium as Flo opened the meeting. His presence lent warmth and legitimacy to the gathering. I wish to thank him whole-heartedly for all that he has done for us in many ways.

–Robert Lane

Thanks for this opportunity to praise Flo…he deserves every word everyone writes, plus a whole lot more. My words of praise for Flo would take a book, but as you suggest around 25 words…

Flo is, without a doubt, the best Treasurer the AHA has ever had! And I am so deeply grateful to Flo for keeping alive the Humanist flame in Salt Lake City that was first ignited by our mutual mentor, Edwin H. Wilson.

–Bette Chambers

I’ve known Flo for nearly seventeen years. I met him at the First Unitarian Church. I was surprised and impressed by his energy for a man who could be only about fifty. Even today, Flo seems no older. His booming, very articulate voice and words recommend him to anyone to know and seek advice from his obvious maturity and wisdom. Eventually, I found myself to be a humanist by many definitions. Only eleven years ago I found myself married for the second time in my life to a delightful person named Leona who was also, clearly a humanist but not the same as me. She lacked interest in my church but eagerly participated in activities outside of church. I consulted with Flo on this phenomenon and expressed my concern to him and asked him why she seemed less interested in attending church than I was. His advice: “Don’t worry about it Dave; she’s a secular humanist.” And it all cleared up for me a bit! Flo’s wisdom and wise council (off the cuff, no less) is most valuable to me as a friend and a religious humanist! Flo will surely be missed as our past president but no doubt some younger and even more energetic than I first thought Flo to be will assume his titular position but there is no doubt that Flo will be consulted from time to time by many who have grown to love this superb member of the human family.

–David Blackbird

Flo, like George Washington, you have been the perfect captain of our ship on its initial voyage through the challenging seas. Best wishes always.

–Earl Wunderli

I doubt that Humanists of Utah would be as successful as it has been if it had not been for Flo Wineriter’s leadership. He has consistently found excellent speakers for our general membership meetings. He has presided over our meetings with dignity and good taste. His unwavering enthusiasm for humanism has been an inspiration for us deviates from the sea of superstitious belief and authoritarian, dogmatic religion we find around us in our everyday lives. At the same time his consistent courtesy and respect for other people’s right to freedom of religion has helped us to resist the temptation to become dogmatic in our own expression of our humanistic worldview. Thanks, Flo!

–Richard Layton

It’s easy to call yourself a Humanist–the trick is to BE a Humanist! Flo personifies all the qualities that I think of when using that term. He’s a thoughtful and critical thinker. He’s accepting of diversity but not of dogma. His analytical approach to subjects provides us with insight and a new depth of understanding. He isn’t devoid of humor, either–his laugh can make anyone smile–even his critics!

–Joyce Barnes

I’ve known Flo for 45 years. He has provided leadership in many selfless endeavors that would lead to a saner and safer planet.

–Bill Lutrell

I would like to join others in expressing my great appreciation for Flo’s splendiferous leadership of our little band of heretics of the past years. Flo, whom I love and josh by calling him “Bishop,” has been a magnificent representative of humanism right here in Zion where, need I say, not everyone shares our point-of-view, unfortunately. But Flo has led the way on an enlightened path for those who have “eyes to see and ears to hear.” Bravo Flo!

–Hugh Gillilan

Good show-all the way!

We often wonder in introspective review whether or not we’ve measured up to our expectations of ourselves.

From my point-of-view, your many contributions to your fellow beings–carried out with vigor, good humor and sensitivity–have earned you a special award for “expectations fulfilled.”

If we were to focus upon only one significant contribution–your extraordinary founding of Hospice–with its comforting benefits to patients and families–that one alone should cause you to experience supreme satisfactions. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been told, “Hospice has been the most wonderful aid to us–we could not have done without it.” And, to think, I could proudly say that I know its founder.

You will leave your station with the Humanists of Utah in excellent hands and you will simply be adopting “additional” projects. We know you Flo.

Thank you for sharing your energy, enthusiasms, and cheer with all of us.

–Barb Woody

I have known Flo for approximately 30 years. I knew of him for several as he was a member of the church, and often referred to. I knew him as a fellow church-committtee-panel member for several, was a very close friend for several and now have faded once again to a casual pattern of an occasional phone call or E-Mail, but still count him as a good friend. Flo had always impressed me as a person who was always “on.” Being a member of the entertainment industry for so long a period, I assumed that that persona was the real Flo. As I got to know Flo the political analyst and other aspects of this person I realized what an informed individual he was and came to appreciate how well he could present information to an audience thus revealing a public speaker to be heeded.

Now I know Flo as the organizational energy behind the Humanists of Utah and appreciate that aspect to the fullest.

He deserves to retire if that is his wish. He has done many things throughout his impressive life leaving many, many people in this valley and beyond with a smile and a chuckle as they think of Flo and his stories, wise and otherwise.

–Christine Walker

Thank you, Flo, for your unfailing willingness to educate others (especially my U of U students) through the sharing of your knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Your kind heart and great respect for humankind is appreciated more than I can express.

–Tawna Skousen

Flo has been the main leader of our Humanist organization since early in its beginnings. We owe him a great thank you for his hard work in our behalf, and for being President of Humanists of Utah for all these years. One thing I thank Flo for is doing the ceremony at my grand daughters wedding. The ceremony was beautifully done and nobody could have done it better.

A comment I heard from a couple of guests was that god was not even mentioned in the wedding ceremony. Maybe they just don’t get it. Thanks again Flo

–Harvey G. Gaster

When I think of Flo some special adjectives come to my mind, like friendly, warm, intelligent, compassionate, articulate, a true gentlemen with that incredible and beautiful voice.”

–Paul Trane

I first worked with Flo 25 years ago teaching a class for teenagers called “About Your Sexuality.” He was honest, kind and not judgmental. They were taught to know rather than “just say no.”

–Richard Teerlink

Although Margie and I “only” moved to Salt Lake City in 1968, it seems as though we have known Flo Wineriter forever. He has always been among the most distinguished members of the First Unitarian Church and always a friend in times of need. When my aging parents–devoted humanists, both–moved out here from Kansas in 1986, Flo was one of the first to welcome them and make them feel at home. I can think of no one more consistent in living the ideals of humanism every day. The organization will miss his inspirational leadership.

–Alan Coombs

Twenty-five years ago, fresh faced and without the slightest idea of what it meant to be a professional journalist, I met Florien Wineriter. He instantly became a role model for me. His voice would resonate through the radio-smooth, distinguished and insightful. For a kid fresh out of college, Flo’s ability to communicate was inspiring…and more than a little intimidating!

But Flo made his greatest impact through his generous and friendly manner. In an industry driven by competition, he was dependably open, engaging and encouraging. As the years passed, he would always take a moment to share a kind word.

When he retired from broadcasting, he brought that same range of wonderful qualities to his work with the Humanists. Always seeking insight to the world around him, he would encourage the dialogue on local and world events. In the process he would involve his old friends and make new ones for himself and the organization.

Flo is one of my quiet heroes. A man of dignity, wisdom and unfailing good humor who has made a difference in many lives. His service as President of the Humanists of Utah has made a wonderful contribution to the diversity of opinion and quality of dialogue in our community.

Thanks for all you have done, my friend!

–Ken Verdoia

It is not nice to say that I hardly remember Flo. It is not true, either. But it is hard for me to remember a time when Flo did something in a memorable way, when he made a grand gesture or an impressive speech, or when he forced an issue to gain a victory.

In my memories of the funnest time of my life so far, when we got the Utah Humanists started, Flo is always there, but he is content to be in the background. I know that at times he did have to be in the focus of attention, to welcome people to a big meeting or so. But he would use the occasion to make us all feel what nice people we were, not what a great guy he was.

According to some Chinese philosophers, the best rider is not the one who whips and spurs, but the one who can make the horse go without effort. And the best leader is not the one who can bend people to his will, pushing and punishing and purging, but the one who gets things done without raising his voice.

Flo is like that; a mover, but not a shaker. He is there, and things get done. That makes him not just an all-round nice guy, but also a very tough act to follow. You guys had better cut the next president some slack.

Thanks, Flo!

–Anne Zeilstra

As one of the most dynamic and insightful humanists of the last decade, we have been privileged to have Flo head humanism in Utah. Tonya and I treasure our humanist wedding that Flo presided over as an AHA humanist celebrant, and a caring friend.

–David and Tonya Evans

We met Flo in the Forties when Channing club was a popular refuge for the college crowd. We saw the Socratic Method in action while gathered before the fireplace in Eliot hall when Professor Jarrett would question Flo as a devils advocate in the beginnings of noticing race relation problems. I remember picketing a bowling alley in Sugarhouse that refused entry to dark-complected foreign students.

We met Flo in the Fifties at World Federalist meetings as well as around the church. We left town for a few years and when we came back in the Sixties found a much enlarged Eliot Hall and a bigger kitchen but no more fireplace. Some dissidents known as Salt Lake Acting Company made some resounding productions on our stage. Many said that bringing “Oh, Calcutta” to Utah might turn out the lights in our church, and they were right! We still are not sure if that nude scene was for real. We met Flo in the Seventies when his mellifluous voice was carried by KSL and his “Unitarians in History” was the hit of the Sunday school.

Together with the Wineriters, we shepherded our teenaged children through the campouts and parties and the beginnings of “About Your Sexuality” training. We served on the board of Trustees together during Dick Henry’s ministry, and between Flo and Bangs Tapscott, those meetings were often exciting, and usually l o n g.

Whether officiating at a wedding or funeral, explaining the budget, or welcoming new members Flo has been an invaluable asset to our church.

–Justin and Barbara Kreek

Ten years ago I moved from the “liberal” East Coast to the hot bed of “illiberality”, Utah County. But I was flabbergasted to find that for a short drive north round point of the mountain, I could actually mingle with a group of free-thinking, clear-headed people called the Humanists of Utah, led by the most amazing and warmly welcoming gentleman, Flo Wineriter. At the very first meeting I attended, I realized that I could at last exhale. And I’ve been breathing the exhilarating air of rationalism ever since, though seldom in the company of the general meetings now that I’m not a night driver. But just knowing that the Humanist of Utah is going strong, thanks to Flo, and also getting a quick hello from him as he leaves the early Unitarian Church service and I cruise into the second service. Just to have his warm smile shine on me is well worth the drive up.

Thank you for helping me feel more at home in the rarified atmosphere of this strangely beautiful and beautifully strange land, Flo

–Barbara Luke

Letters to the Editor

The Utah Humanist is a superb publication, both for its eye-appeal and for its great content! In addition to the excellent articles, I really enjoy the Quotes by Sagan and Ingersoll. So nicely presented that they make good “clip and post” items. Thank you for all the work that you put into keeping us all in touch.

–Barbara Luke

I am the editor of A Matter of FACT, the newsletter of FACT, The Freethinkers of Central Texas. I am interested in reprinting in our newsletter the article “What a Tangled Web We Weave, When We Practice to Believe” by Richard Layton in your November 2001 The Utah Humanist. Could you please send me a copy of it electronically? I also really enjoyed David Egan Evans’s “Five Years a Humanist” in that issue. Thanks!

–Julie Fisher