James Lambert Kidd died on May 19 after a short illness. He was born on June 12, 1933, in Fall River to the Rev. Thomas and Elizabeth Ann Kidd, elderly parents whose first child was born 20 years earlier. Jim’s closest sibling was 12 years older. He was spoiled by his four siblings and two parents.
Jim was a mediocre student, just getting by until he had a major life crisis at age 19, when he experienced the love of Jesus. He became a good student. He started dating Joann Hamilton at 17 and married her, the love of his life, at 20. He was on the dean’s list at the University of Massachusetts, graduating in 1955. He received the top junior academic scholarship as he entered Andover Newton Theological School, graduating in 1959.
Jim loved his three children and was crushed when he discovered his two boys had cystic fybrosis and would not survive to adulthood. Bruce died in 1968 at age 13, and Peter in 1979, at age 19. His daughter, Pamela, came through her teen crises a hero in his eyes, and is married to Kevin Pleas, a UCC Minister in Camden, Me.
Jim served in four churches: The First Congregational Church of Pelham, N.H. (1957-1961); Wellington avenue Congregational Church in Chicago, Ill. (1961-1969); First Congregational Church in Wilmette, Ill. (1969-1979); and Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, Conn. (1979-1998). All of his churches grew in membership and in a deepening faith and spirit. Jim received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1969 and many church growth awards over the years. Upon retirement he relocated to Punta Gorda, Fla., where he pursued his leisure loves; being with friends over a meal and on the tennis court, reading and boating, or summering on Martha’s Vineyard in the cottage he built himself. Jim was vice president of Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs.
He was president of the Hartford Clergy Association, served on the Hartford Vision Project, worked to stop professional gambling in Hartford, was voted Citizen of the Year in 1999, was given the Humanitarian Award from the National Council of Christians and Jews, was actively involved in the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s, was on the board of directors of Chicago Theological Seminary, the Chicago Community Renewal Society, Andover Newton Theological School and Hartford Hospital. He was president of the board of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation in Chicago and Merrimack Valley, N.H.
Jim was a gifted preacher and writer, and many of his sermons and articles on church growth have been published. He was Minister Emeritus at Asylum Hill Congregational Church.
Jim is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joann; daughter Pam and son in law Keven Please; grandchildren Sarah Please and her husband Sean Gresh, and James Please; brother David Kidd; many nieces and nephews and a host of people whom he loved.
There will be a memorial service at the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury on August 7 at 1 p.m. To honor Jim’s wishes, please do not send flowers. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury.