Margaret deVelder ’63 Hougen

Margaret Jesse deVelder Hougen, born January 2nd, 1942 died peacefully in her own bed, at home in Northampton, MA, on Friday, February 22nd, with family nearby and in the care of Hospice. She was 77 years old.

Margaret, the daughter of missionary parents, Walter and Harriet DeVelder, was born in Zhangzhow, Fujian Province in South China. She lived in China, the Philippines, and Hong Kong until the age of 19 when she returned to the United States to finish school, at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, graduating with a degree in French in 1963. She entered Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1964, where she met fellow student Edward T. Hougen, also studying for the ministry. Margaret and Edward became fast friends, and were married in June of 1965.

Margaret graduated from Union Seminary in 1967. Soon after graduating, offers of work brought Edward and Margaret to Massachusetts, where they had both their children, daughter Sarah was born in 1969, and son Eddy came along in 1972. Margaret was ordained in 1975 in the United Church of Christ, and served as pastor in Whately, MA for 18 months.In 1976 Margaret and Edward made a choice, together in faith, that would greatly shape the adventurous life in store for them; They came out to their respective churches in Whately, and Orange, MA, telling the congregations that Edward was gay and that he and Margaret practiced an open marriage.

The two ordained ministers, considered their sexual ideals to reflect Christian values, and they believed that their non-exclusive marriage/love framework was more closely aligned with the spirit of life as a gift, and the nature of God’s love, than what most established churches were promoting. Their experience of their own sexuality was integral to their faith, and their shared understanding of the faith. Margaret and Edward then resigned from their pastorates and moved to Boston, where they joined the Metropolitan Community Church, which served the gay community, and where Edward became pastor. Margaret later served a worship group at Metropolitan Community Church in Worcester, MA., for one year.

During their early years in Boston, raising young children, money was tight and Margaret held a variety of jobs including Case Manager at a community drug rehabilitation program, Executive Director of a psychiatric halfway house, and as a Training Coordinator at an agency serving ex-offenders.In 1984 Edward bought a Boston-based gay publication called The Guide. For the next 22 years Edward, Margaret, and the magazine’s tiny staff of editors, advertising salespeople, and art directors, also known as “The Guide Family” developed the business into an international presence, and a far-reaching vehicle promoting gay travel, entertainment, politics, and a radical civil rights and sexual liberation message. In 2006, Edward sold the magazine, and he and Margaret retired. In 2008 they moved to Northampton, MA. to be near their grown-up children and grandchildren. In the summer of 2015, Margaret and Edward celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at a crowded, and joyful backyard party arranged and hosted by their kids. Edward was suffering from pancreatic cancer at the time, but would live for another year. The couple observed their 51st wedding anniversary 2 months before Edward diedMargaret was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer shortly before the 1st anniversary of Edward’s death.

Margaret was very grateful for the excellent and compassionate care of Dr. Deborah Smith and the staff at The Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Margaret appreciated the care and support she received from her primary care physician, Dr. Bruce Weinraub, and the nurses at the VNA, and from Hospice care, and she felt very blessed to have a community of family and friends who provided food, rides, flowers, prayers, cards and letters, and encouragement, while she was ill.

Margaret lost 3 of her 4 brothers before she died: Philip DeVelder, Dirck deVelder, and John deVelder. She is survived by her youngest brother, David deVdelder.Margaret leaves her daughter, Sarah Margaret Hougen, of Northampton, and her son, Edward Thomas Hougen IV, and his wife, Sarah Curro Hougen, of Florence, MA, her three granddaughters, Holland Margaret Silva, Greta Jo Hougen-Smith, and Emma Lee Hougen, Holland’s father, Gonzalo Silva of New York City, Greta’s mother Rachael Smith-Ramos, and her husband Ryan Ramos of Holyoke, MA.

Also surviving Margaret are her brother David’s wife, Rev. Joyce deVelder of Schuylerville, NY, and other sisters-in-law Marielle deVelder of Paris, France, and Linda Walvoord of Holland, MI. Margaret leaves Edward’s sister, Helen Hancock of Carmichael, CA, and Helen’s husband, brother-in-law Ben Hancock, as well as several nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends throughout the United States, and abroad. Margaret was very recently preceded in death by Edward’s brother, Dr. Jon T. Hougen of Washington, DC.

Margaret also leaves her friend, Bobby Stevens of Chicopee, MA, a member of “The Guide Family”, and Margaret‘s family, and Edward’s companion of over forty years. Margaret Hougen was warm, and kind. She was very smart, very funny, and a wonderful storyteller. Margaret was brave, and she was tough, and she deeply valued helping others. She was thankful for her own rich, and joyous life, and her only regret was missing out on watching her 3 beautiful granddaughters growing up and more amazing, every day.

She will be truly missed.

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