Joseph Vaughan
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Obituary of Joseph Vaughan

Richard Joseph “Joe” Vaughan, 89, of St. Louis, Missouri passed away on July 13, 2022 after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s and lung cancer. Joe was born an Irishman on June 21, 1933 to John Sebastian and Helen Vaughan in Melrose, Massachusetts and soon after moved to Wellesley, MA where he lived until college. His father was ill most of his life and was one of the first people to have a lung removed. While his mother was at the hospital in Boston, the community around them took care of the family. Joe often talked about how he would come home from school and find someone washing the kitchen floor or making dinner for the kids. This is where he first learned about the beauty and grace of community. Joe began gardening with his mother in her Victory Garden as a child and was an avid gardener throughout his life creating beautiful gardens everywhere he lived. He sang in an all-boys choir in Boston and has sang in many choirs over the years with an amazing tenor voice which was soft and melodious, even when talking. In his youth his family had a Golden Retriever named Misty and his mother raised several champions from Misty. Thus began a lifelong love of all dogs, but particularly Goldens. Joe often reminisced about the cars he owned in high school, which included a Model T and a woody wagon! After Joe graduated from Wellesley High School, he first went to Notre Dame University and finding a calling there to become a priest he transferred to Stonehill College in Easton, MA for seminary. He received his undergraduate degree in theology and went on to Catholic University in Washington, D.C. for a master’s in theology. After he was ordained in 1960, he taught high school at Notre Dame Boy’s High School in Fairfield, CT until he felt a calling to address the problems of the inner cities and the residents’ struggles to find work, affordable shelter and enough food to feed their families. He received a fellowship from St. Louis University in their Urban Affairs program where he received a master’s in Urban Affairs. Immediately after receiving his degree, in 1970 the Divinity School hired him to be Field Education Director for seminarians studying to be priests. Also in 1970 Joe met Carolyn Johnson Vaughan somewhat by chance (is anything ever just by chance?), fell in love, and after a lot of reflection on such a major change in his life, he made the decision to leave the active priesthood and continue his calling as a householder. Joe and Carolyn married in 1972 and even with a little “hiccup” in the intervening years would have been married 50 years on August 19, 2022. Over the years Joe helped start a small farm in Hingham, MA with his long-time college friend Tom Hanlon. He also was the director of the community center in Hingham, taught high school at two high schools in Boston, and was the director of a soup kitchen also in Boston. In 1979 Joe and Carolyn accepted jobs with St. James Catholic Church as co-directors of religious education in Kearney, Nebraska. During his time there he also led a state-wide referendum for a freeze on nuclear weapons which against all odds won in Nebraska, an accomplishment he was very proud of. Much of their work at St. James Church was with the Hispanic community where they were welcomed with the open, loving arms of the community. During this time they were asked to give sanctuary to a family of undocumented immigrants from El Salvador who had fled the civil war raging there at the time. One of the family was Guadalupe(Lupe) Dimas, age 10 at the time. Over the course of the family’s stay with the Vaughans, a strong loving bond was established. When they decided to move back to Massachusetts, Lupe accompanied them as their adopted daughter. They gained not only a loving daughter, but happily became members of her extended family as well. In 1992 Joe started (along with Carolyn) a new non-profit organization which was an affiliate of a non-profit called World SHARE (self-help and resource exchange). The affiliate was named SHARE New England and over the years became one of the largest affiliates around the country with a staff of over 12-15 and hundreds of volunteers. It was a program that brought together all his skills and passion for providing food for low income people as well as building community. After he retired from SHARE New England he joined a group of people from World SHARE to co-found a community in South Carolina with the ideal of creating a sustainable lifestyle within an intentional community setting, an experiment that lasted about five years. Throughout his life but especially in his retirement years, Joe was an accomplished artist and to everyone who walked in the front door he would joyfully offer them one of his drawings/paintings. In addition to regularly practicing his Catholic faith, from the mid-1970s on he was a participant at the Vedanta Centre in Cohasset, Massachusetts where his faith and spirituality deepened as he learned about the spiritual practices of other religions and incorporated some of them into his own faith. Joe was a man of deep faith and enduring love for his fellow human beings. He strongly believed that it was his Christian, priestly calling to make the world around him a better place. He believed in living Jesus’ teachings of the Beatitudes. One of his lifetime habits was to sign off on every phone call with Peace.....not goodbye, but peace. Ultimately, when he passed, he passed in Peace. Joe was predeceased by his mother and father, John Sebastian and Helen Conlon Vaughan; brothers, John Vaughan and Robert Vaughan; sister, Julie Ann Vaughan Conlon. He is survived by his loving wife, Carolyn Vaughan of St. Louis; daughter, Lupe Vaughan [Alfredo]; grandchildren, Mariana Ornelas [Jorge Ortiz], Andres Ornelas [Lety], Delia Mendez [Fernando], Junior Ornelas [Celestina], and Paolo Ornelas; two great-grandchildren, Joshua Ornelas and Yvette Mendez, all of Madera, CA except Andres who is in the Army and stationed in Texas. Joe is also survived by his sister Julie’s daughter Lindsay Conlon, Hanover, Massachusetts and her father Paul Conlon, Maine; his brother John’s daughter Martha Krumboltz of San Antonio, Texas; his brother, Bob’s large family: sister-in-law Ann Vaughan of West Hartford, Connecticut, nieces and nephews, John Vaughan [Ann Marie]of Tampa Bay, Florida, Bobby Vaughan [Kathy] of Garwood, New Jersey, Ryan Vaughan of Englewood, New Jersey, Diann Vaughan [David Bird] of Arlington, Virginia, Lori Vaughan [John Ferguson] of Larchmont, New York, and Kathryn Vaughan [Nathan Preston] of Glendale, California, and 10 great nephews and nieces. Services will be held at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis on July 30 at 9:00 am with a reception following. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the American Lung Association.
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