Robert W. and Catherine Kingdon Papers, 1908, 1929-1987


Robert Kingdon was born on a farm near Hitchcock, South Dakota on August 3, 1903. He was the first child born to Henry Kingdon and Elsie Pidge Kingdon. The Kingdon family moved to Huron, South Dakota when Kingdon was thirteen years old. Kingdon attended Huron College, receiving an undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1925. While studying at Huron College, Kingdon met Anna Catherine McCune. “Catherine” McCune was born on August 31, 1906 in Phengyang, Korea, the daughter of George Shannon McCune and Helen Bailey McAfee. George McCune was a missionary in Asia and later the president of Huron College. Catherine attended Huron College and received a BA in 1926. The Kingdons were married in Huron on December 31, 1926 and first lived in Chicago where they were both students at the Chicago Theological Seminary. After attending Yale Divinity School for one year Rev. Kingdon transferred to Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) where he received his BD in 1928. While in seminary, Rev. Kingdon also received a Master's degree in history from the University of Chicago and in 1953 received an honorary DD from Huron College.

Robert Kingdon was ordained immediately after graduating in 1928 and shortly thereafter accepted a pastorate in Kuhului, Maui, Hawaii where he and Catherine served from 1928 to 1936. The Kahului Union Church was run under the auspices of the American Board of Home Missions of the Congregational Christian Church. The Kingdons then served the Pilgrim Church in Honolulu from 1936 to 1940. In 1940 the Kingdons received a call to the First Congregational Church in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. Rev. Kingdon led the church when the Congregational Christian and Evangelical and Reformed denominations merged in 1961 to become the United Church of Christ (UCC). In the early 1960s, Rev. Kingdon guided the church through the construction of an expanded and updated church.

The Kingdons were active in both state and national Congregational and UCC organizations. Robert and Catherine Kingdon served as moderators at the state conference in 1962 and for the Winnebago Association of Congregational Churches from 1952 to 1954. Rev. Kingdon was active in the Wisconsin Rapids Ministerial Association and the Central Wisconsin Ministerial Association as well as the Northwest Ministerial Association. Mrs. Kingdon was active in Women's Fellowship groups at the state and local levels and traveled to different churches to promote Mission Education. Besides church activities the Kingdons were involved in many civic organizations including Rotary, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the League of Women Voters, and the American Association of University Women.

The Kingdons served in Wisconsin Rapids from 1940 to 1968 when Rev. Kingdon retired. After his retirement, the First Congregational Church named Rev. Kingdon Pastor Emeritus. In their retirement the Kingdons returned to Hawaii to serve seven interim pastorates and traveled around the world once. The Kingdons had five children: Robert Jr., Anna Carol (Dudley), Henry, John and Arthur. Robert Kingdon died March 15, 1981 and Catherine Kingdon died February 15, 1995.