Reverend Stephen Edwin Phinney

  • Born: March 31, 1940
  • Died: May 2, 2020
  • Location: Aurora, Colorado

Tribute & Message From The Family


Loving Father and Husband, Minister, Musician

Message From The Family

Thank you for your support during this difficult time. Please enhance this tribute to Steve by adding your memories and photos.

Stephen Edwin Phinney, 80, of Aurora, CO, passed away from complications of the coronavirus on May 2, 2020. Steve was born March 31, 1940 to Robert Morris Phinney and Margaret Smith Phinney in Rochester, NY. He attended Brighton High School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Rochester, where he received a BS in Physics in 1964. He also did graduate work in astrogeophysics at the University of Colorado from 1968 to 1972. In 1962 he married his first wife, Lucy Walsh Phinney; she passed away in 1996. In 2004 he married his second wife, Cynthia Mortland Phinney.

Steve's first career was with IBM, working first on planetary atmospheres and then on Navy submarines and sonar systems. Most of his career was in Manassas, VA, and he and Lucy raised their three children in Dale City, VA. While in Virginia, Steve served on the Prince William County Historical Commission and chaired a citizens' roads council for several years.

In 1996 Steve felt a call to become a Unitarian Universalist minister. He was proud to be a fifth-generation UU. He received his M.Div. from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC in 2003 and was ordained in 2005. He served in Richmond, VA, Ellsworth, ME and Rio Rancho, NM until his retirement in 2013. He and Cynthia retired to Colorado.

Steve loved photography and had a sizable slide collection of his family's life and travels. He hiked all his life, particularly on Mount Desert Island, Maine. He was a lifelong Boy Scout and leader. He was long interested in antiques and history, and always had at least one old chair under repair. In his retirement he began creating a stained glass window and had plans to write a book.

Besides his family, his biggest love was music. He played trombone at the Eastman School of Music in high school, and was part of both the Binghamton Symphony Orchestra and the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra in his 20s. He sang tenor in church choirs with Cynthia, but he was primarily a pianist. He had an extensive sheet music library and his family all remembers that he played for fun everywhere he ever lived.

Steve is survived by his wife, Cynthia Mortland Phinney; three children: Sara Phinney Kelley and her husband Dave, of Lewisburg, PA; Jennifer Phinney Bell and her husband Pat, of Cheyenne, WY; and Robert Stephen Phinney and his wife Alyce, of Alexandria, VA; five grandchildren: Rachel Bell Hopkins and her husband Cameron Hopkins, Erin Bell, Kathleen (Katie) Kelley, Tobey Phinney, and Lucas Phinney; as well as his brother Robert A. Phinney and wife Caroline of Princeton, NJ. He is predeceased by his parents and his first wife, Lucy Walsh Phinney.

In accordance with his wishes, Steve's ashes will be interred at the Phinney family cemetery plot in Barnstable, Cape Cod, MA and scattered on Mount Desert Island. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.


Condolence & Memory Journal

We were saddened to hear of Steve's sudden death. Rob knew him when Steve worked for IBM and later
at Mount Vernon Unitarian Church where Steve did his internship. We had many an enjoyable evening with him and Cynthia attending performances of The National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center. He will be missed.

Posted by Robert and Esther Dickinson - Alexandria, VA - Friend   May 06, 2020

Condolences to the entire family on your loss. He will be missed by so many UU friends, and others from his richly varied life. -- Diane Miller, retired UU minister

Posted by DIANE MILLER - Salina, KS - Coworker   May 05, 2020


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