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Convention moment: Hewetson honored for his dedication to FFRF

Dick Hewetson shares a hug with FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. (Photo by Ingrid Laas)

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor surprised longtime and Lifetime Member Dick Hewetson at FFRF’s convention in November with a small gift for his service to FFRF. Here is her introduction:

This is not on the schedule, but it is a very deserved recognition. I want to introduce you to Dick Hewetson. Many of you know him. Before The Clergy Project, he and Dan [Barker] and a couple other folks comprised a very elite group of former ministers who are now nonbelievers. 

Dick has hardly ever missed a convention. This is his 37th. He’s from San Francisco and he’s been on our board or been one of our state reps forever. We love him and want to introduce you to him. 

We have a memento for you. It’s just a thingamabob and it catches the light, and it says, “With love to Dick Hewetson, FFRF 2018.” 

By Dick Hewetson

I wasn’t planning on this, but I did bring a prop. It has orange hair and a red tie and it was given to me by a wonderful atheist friend. It’s called the “Damn-it Doll.” Whenever you’re upset, you go [smacks the doll on his chair] “Damn it!” and it makes you feel very good.

Anyway, I do want to say something. The real honor for me is having been a member of this organization since 1978.

And the conventions have been the highlight of my year, except for a few times when I couldn’t make it. Last year, I got part way. I made it to Minnesota [on the way to Madison] and contracted pneumonia and had to come back here to San Francisco. 

I remember the first convention I went to. I went to Madison with my dear departed partner David Irwin, who was also a Life Member. He took me kicking and screaming. I didn’t want to go, but I went — and it changed my life. 

I think there were fewer than 50 people at that convention. Annie Laurie was a college student, I believe. And her dear, dear mother, Anne Gaylor, had an office in Madison, but it was the dining room table of the Gaylor house. So, I have seen this organization move from then to what we have now, which is just phenomenal. I won’t call it a miracle. [Laughs]

When I went to Madison that first year, I was recovering from having been an Episcopal priest and I had left the church. But beyond that, I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. It was in Madison those first few years that I realized my whole life I’d been an atheist. But hadn’t realized it because it was a bad word. Anyway, thank you so much.