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Activist minister, the Rev. Trevor A. Hausske, dies at 91

Rev. Trevor A. Hausske, who headed the Sayville

Rev. Trevor A. Hausske, who headed the Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ for 28 years, died Sept. 7, 2014 in Minneapolis. He was 91. Credit: Family handout

The Rev. Trevor A. Hausske spent 28 years heading Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ, though his work also took him to the front lines of social justice movements far from home.

Born in China to American missionary parents, he was pastor of the Sayville church when he traveled to Mississippi in the 1960s to help African-Americans register to vote.

Over the years, he met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was jailed for taking part in anti-apartheid protests, and took confirmation candidates at his church to mosques and synagogues to experience other faiths, according to relatives and church members.

"He was very daring in a quiet way," said Connie Kauffman of Sayville, a longtime member of the church. "He was a trailblazer but not out there on a soapbox. He ruffled feathers along the way but he stood the storm."

Hausske died Sunday in Minneapolis, where he had retired from a job as a chaplain to a retirement residence. He was 91.

He was born in China in 1923 after his parents moved there as Congregational Church missionaries, in part to run a hospital. He became fluent in Mandarin and decades later still used the language.

"It was his greatest joy -- to go to a Chinese restaurant and speak Mandarin," said his wife, Marjean Postlethwaite.

Hausske, who came to the United States in 1941, graduated from Pacific University in Oregon and Yale Divinity School in Connecticut. He worked at two churches before becoming the minister in Sayville, where he served from 1961 to 1989.

He had a clear devotion to the civil rights issues of the 1960s, relatives and members of his congregation said. Kauffman recalled how he traveled to Mississippi "at his own peril" to help register African-Americans to vote at a time when civil rights workers were killed and beaten. He received death threats for his work, said one of his daughters, Evie Fuson of Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Hausske met King during a visit to New York, and was among the throng in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., for King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.

Two decades later, he returned to Washington and was arrested in front of the South African embassy during a protest against apartheid.

"The evils of social injustice in South Africa are as much a concern to me as they had been during the civil rights movement of the 1960s," Hausske told The Suffolk County News in 1988. He added: "We should wonder why communities such as Sayville seem to be not as open as they should be to the presence of blacks and other ethnic groups."

Hausske's first wife, Dorothy Lee, died in 1978, and a son, Clark, died in 1993.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Kristine Rose of West Haven, Connecticut; stepchildren Diana Postlethwaite, David Postlethwaite and Martha Postlethwaite, all of the Minneapolis area; and 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled Sunday in Minneapolis.

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