Title of Collection
Scope and Content Note
These papers document the life, work, and ministry of Harold Kent Straughn.
Biographical note excerpted from the Kansas City Star on August 1, 2021:
“Harold Kent Straughn, December 6, 1939 - July 15, 2021
Salt Lake City, Utah - Harold Kent Straughn—minister, chaplain, author, father, friend, and companion—died on July 15, 2021, in his Salt Lake City home at age 81 after a series of illnesses. Harold is survived by his wife Carole, son Jeremy, daughter Joanna, sister Janet Straughn Mills, brother Keith and granddaughter Sophia Gener.
His life mirrored a thirst for knowledge, faith and justice.
"Harold transformed everything he touched," his wife Carole recalls. "Whatever assignment he took on, he first saw the possibilities, then noticed where people were stuck, then helped them use their own resources to get themselves unstuck."
As editor of a church newspaper, head of a publisher's writing department, church pastor or hospice chaplain, Harold embraced positive, respectful, resourceful decision-making. One boss called him "the most creative person I ever met."
Harold was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 6, 1939, one of five children of Howard R. Straughn and Edythe Straughn. Harold graduated from Rosedale High School and stayed in touch with his classmates the rest of his life. He was a challenging, yet kindly, presence for over 900 friends and family members on social media.
He earned his B.A. in journalism from Abilene Christian College in 1961. The college, later a university, honored Harold in 2005 with the Gutenberg Award for distinguished professional achievement by an alumnus in Journalism and Mass Communication. Journalism was productive in other ways. A humor column Harold wrote in the student newspaper at Abilene Christian attracted the attention of freshman Carole Stone. They married the following year.
He earned a master's in Bible from Abilene Christian and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in 1966. Harold was interested in the European roots of the Restoration movement. In 1969 he moved with his family to Tübingen, Germany, for three years. He studied the early Reformation free church movement. A few weeks before his death, Harold donated his papers for archiving at the Center for Restoration Studies at Abilene Christian.
After graduation, Harold worked for Sweet Publishing Company of Austin, Texas, as managing editor of the Christian Chronicle. Harold was fired in 1968 for refusing to retract a story about integration of the student body at Southwestern Christian College, a historically Black Church of Christ college in Terrell, Texas. A few days later, on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. With Carole's blessing, Harold withdrew their last $300 for a bus ticket to Atlanta and marched in Dr. King's funeral procession.
Harold continued his transformational work in a series of roles. In Abilene, Texas, he served as a researcher and later writer for radio and television broadcasts of the "Herald of Truth" program. In Waco, Texas, he headed the writing department of Word, Inc., a Christian record and book company. In Long Island, New York, he wrote for a Christian radio program "Heartbeat" and later Sterling Publishing, whose titles include the Guinness Book of World Records. Harold preached at West Islip Church on Long Island from 1985 to 1992, helping the congregation refocus its mission and build a foundation for future decades. In St. Louis, Missouri, Harold worked for the Catholic publishing house Liguori Publications. He served as minister for First Christian Church of Luther, Oklahoma, and helped the church fulfill a dream of building a new fellowship hall.
In 2009, Harold and Carole retired to Salt Lake City, where he served as Minister-on-Call for First Unitarian Church. He assisted in ministering to the St. Francis of Assisi Christian Church at the Timpanogos Facility of Utah State Prison. Harold served as a hospice chaplain from 2012 to 2017.
His published books include:
Through the Bible with Those Who Were There (with Carole Straughn).
The Five Divorces of a Healthy Marriage.
Unknown Texas (anthology with Jonathan Eisen).
LifeSpirals: Exploring Your Ascent Through the Seven Transformations That Propel Humanity's Dreams.
Anecdotes That Transform: Little Stories That Changed My Life Without My Knowing It.”
The Straughn Family
The papers are arranged into the following series and subseries:
Series I: Topical files
Subseries A: Personal material and writing
Subseries B: Education and dissertation materials
Subseries C: Consulting work
Subseries D: Alumni materials
Subseries E: Biographical files
Series II: Print materials
Subseries A: Church
Subseries B: 1976 Democratic National Convention
Subseries C: Topical print materials
Subseries D: Newspapers
Series III: Appended Materials
See PDF finding aid for inventory.
Extent of Collection
14 linear feet (24 boxes)
Center for Restoration Studies Manuscripts #533
Center for Restoration Studies
[identification of item], [file or folder name], Harold Kent Straughn Papers, 1945-2021. Center for Restoration Studies MS #533. Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.
Open to researchers. Contact Abilene Christian University Special Collections and Archives to make an appointment.
Finding Aid created by
Amanda Dietz, Mac Ice, Brianna Mullins