Obituary of Charles Benjamin Houghtlin
Charles ("Tod") Benjamin Houghtlin of New Lebanon New York, passed away in the early morning of March 14, 2020. Tod is survived by his wife Helen Burton; daughters Vannesa Houghtlin, Jessica Burton and Christine Cottrell, sons James Houghtlin and Allen Burton; and 13 grandchildren, who were his pride and joy: Elodie, Elisa, Sylvie, Annie, Tommy, Gabi, Daven, Betsy, Gus, Charlie, Angus, Ella and John. He is also survived by many dear friends, former colleagues and students, his brother David and a host of sisters- and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews.
Tod was born to parents Robert Germain Houghtlin and Jane Saunders Houghtlin in St. Louis, Missouri on October 7, 1941. He spent his childhood in Evanston, Illinois with his brothers Robert, David and John. After graduation from Evanston Township High School, Tod attended Amherst College, graduating in 1963. During his time at Amherst, Tod developed deep, lifelong friendships with classmates while working in the Valentine Hall dining hall dish room. He continued his education at Yale University, receiving a Masters in Divinity in 1968. For several summers, Tod was a trail counselor for the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society in St. Huberts, New York. During this time, he developed his deep appreciation for spending time outdoors, his skills as a caring leader, and lifelong friendships. In 1972, Tod joined the Middlesex School in Concord, MA as chaplain and member of the faculty. He became an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ in 1976. In 1980, Tod moved to New York City and became chaplain and teacher at the Collegiate School. He would also periodically serve as the minister of West End Collegiate Church. Tod would remain at Collegiate until his retirement in 2007. Upon retirement, he moved to his beloved home with his wife Helen in New Lebanon, NY, which would serve as home base for explorations of cultural activities in the Berkshires, trips abroad, and gatherings of friends and family. Loving teaching as he did, he became an adjunct professor of American History at Berkshire Community College for a number of years. He also found a home as both a parishioner and an occasional minister at the Canaan NY Congregational Church, from which he was Delegate to and faithful member of the Berkshire Association of the Southern New England United Church of Christ and as a worshiper at Immaculate Conception Church in New Lebanon and St James in Chatham.
Tod was a human being of extraordinary kindness, gentleness, and caring interest in others. His family, friends, former students and colleagues describe him as exceptionally loving, empathetic, eloquent, courageous and loyal. He had a memory like a vise and an expansive intelligence, with which he tried to consider all issues from an ethical and global perspective. His sense of humor was both sophisticated and delightfully goofy. Tod was typically surrounded by stacks of books, newspapers and magazines; his interests included music, history, travel and languages, anything Scandinavian, and anything of interest to those he loved.newspapers and magazines; his interests included music, history, travel and languages, anything Scandinavian, and anything of interest to those he loved.
A memorial service will be held for Tod later in the spring or summer, once the current crisis passes. If you would like to make a memorial donation, please consider a charity of your choice or Tod's suggestion of: The Mountain School, 151 Mountain School Road, Vershire, VT 05079; https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/TheMountainSchool. For Tod, the Mountain School embodied his beliefs in a rigorous well rounded education, a caring community, and a deep appreciation for the natural world.