S. Thom Scholten ’54

The Reverend S. Thoms Scholten, 86, died peacefully at Daughters of Sarah Nursing Home in the early morning hours of Sunday August 11, 2019, surrounded by his three children who had been celebrating his birthday with him. Thom was the youngest of six children born to the Reverend Walter A. and Frances (Thoms) Scholten on August 10, 1933 in Morrisville, New Jersey. He attended a one room schoolhouse for much of grade school in Mountain Lakes, NJ, and described it as a happy time. The family moved to New York and Thom attended Arlington High School in Lagrangeville, NY. He was a Boy Scout and was on the high school track team before graduating in 1950. Thom went to Hope College in Holland, MI, as his parents had before him, where he studied History and Political Science; he graduated in 1954.  Answering the call to ministry, he studied at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, earning his M. Div. Degree in 1957. While at college and seminary, Thom befriended several other students who would become lifelong friends; they collectively referred to themselves as “The Troops”.

Following his studies, he was called to the Pompton Plains Reformed Church in NJ.  He enjoyed many meals cooked by the church ladies there, who worried about his ability to feed himself. Soon after starting at his next church, the Bradley Gardens Reformed Church, he met his future bride on September 3, 1961, who immediately declared to her best friend that she had met her future husband. Wilma Fristensky and Thom were married on July 28, 1962. While in Bradley Gardens, Thom helped oversee the building of the new church, which still stands today. On September 1, 1965 they moved to Keyport, NJ, where Thom would serve the Keyport Reformed Church for seventeen years.  In 1983 he relocated to Upstate NY. He worked for a time at the Silver Bay YMCA and substituted at the Kingsbury Baptist Church in Kingsbury, NY.  He became affiliated with the United Methodist Church and served the yoked congregations of Northville and Edinburg, where he served from 1984-1989.  From there, he went to Middleburgh, NY, where he served the Middleburgh Methodist Church and Fultonham Union Church from September 1989 until June 1992. He ended his career serving the Fort Ann and West Fort Ann Methodist churches from 1992-1996, when he retired to Hudson Falls, NY. He had many good years in Hudson Falls, despite some intermittent health crises. Ultimately, he moved to Albany, NY, in June 2018 to be closer to his children.

Throughout his life and career, Thom was an advocate for social justice. He was a member of the NAACP in the early 1960’s and was present on the mall in Washington, DC with many clergy to hear Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. He was also involved in ecumenical causes throughout his ministry. On more than one occasion, he offered our own couch as a bed for whoever might be passing through town and need a place to lay his head for the night.  He enjoyed following politics, never shy about expressing his displeasure with the actions of the government. Thom collected different things over the years (stamps, coins, tin toys) and enjoyed reading immensely, mostly church history, the New York Times and comic books from his childhood. He deeply enjoyed listening to classical music. Most of all, he loved spending time with his family, especially on summer vacations in the family’s cottage at Sabbath Day Point. Those long summer evenings of reading, or playing cards or board games with his family, or entertaining the Troops on the porch, with the crickets singing in the background, are what sustained him.

Thom was predeceased in 2004 by his wife of 42 years, Wilma, as well as by his parents, his brother, Walter, and his sisters Constance, Dorothy and Marion.  He is survived by his children, Jacqueline (Angela Keller) of Rotterdam, Victoria (Chris) Morgan of Saugerties, and Steven (Daria) Scholten of Albany and his four grandchildren – Alex Viola (Grace Ma), Sylvia Viola (Robin Richardson), and Jack and Hope Keller-Scholten.  Also surviving are his sister, Frances Rinkus (Holland, MI) and many nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and nephews, cousins and friends..

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