Donald Houts, 91, of Savoy passed away at 11:58 p.m. on Sunday, September 29, 2019 at Willowbrook Memory Care of Savoy surrounded by his family.
Donald Charles Houts was born December 30, 1927, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the middle child of Jehiras and Mary Houts. He married Charlotte Ann Stelcik on August 20, 1950. She survives, along with two sons, Michael of Allen, Texas, and Eric of Saco, Maine, a daughter-in-law, Susan Flynn, grandson, Ian, granddaughter-in-law, Jacqueline, and two great granddaughters, Ryann Grace and Paige Charlotte.
The Rev. Dr. Houts received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Iowa, his M.Div. from Garrett Biblical Institute, his M.A. and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1970. He was ordained as a minister in the United Methodist Church and served as parish pastor in Rowley, Iowa, as Chaplain at Bethany Hospital, in Kansas City, Kansas, as Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri, and as Director of Pastoral Care and Counseling for the Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church before his retirement in 1993. Among the many professional and ecumenical associations and conferences he was active in are the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, the College of Chaplains of the American Health Care Assembly, and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors for which he served as president from 1980-1982.
Donald Houts is remembered for his humanity, his commitment to spiritual and clinical healing, his love of family, friends and colleagues and for his lifelong campaign for peace with justice that dates back to his college years at the University of Iowa, where he picketed barber shops that discriminated against African-Americans. His concern for social justice issues continued to influence his life shaping his scholarly interests as both a divinity and doctoral student, and in his professional career that includes a focus on the topic of sexual ethics in the pastoral and mental health professions. Not only is he recognized as an expert on the subject, having published and lectured widely, but for establishing a set of guidelines which serve as the standard in those professions today.
As a member of Pastoral Counselors for Social Responsibility, the Rev. Dr. Houts was active in pursuing international peace efforts; as past-president of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors he worked diligently to internationalize the organization and began a grants program to aid pastoral counselors from developing countries which continues to this day. His empathy and selfless concern for the well-being of others continued after retirement and was most notably displayed when he served as a counselor to families of the 9/11 tragedy in New York. As one of only 90 pastors nationwide who were trained to assist survivors of catastrophic aviation disasters, Reverend Houts spent two weeks counseling hundreds of individuals and families who tragically and so unexpectedly lost loved ones on that day. Closer to home, he helped to assist victims of fire and other emergencies through his volunteer work with the local Emergency Services Support Team, where he served as team captain. He was active in and delighted to serve the community by participating in the food pantry at Wesley United Methodist church. Doctor Houts continued to write for a number of professional journals and was instrumental in providing training for many denominational and ecumenical clergy.
A memorial service will be held at Wesley United Methodist Church, 1203 West Green Street, Urbana, IL, corner of Goodwin and Green, on Thursday, October 3, at 10:30am.
If you wish to make a donation in Rev. Dr. Houts’ memory, the family suggests a contribution to the Wesley Memorial Fund, the Wesley Food Pantry or Transitions Hospice.