The Rev. Richard Mather Mapes '49 B.A., '52 B.D., one of Yale Divinity School 's most loyal supporters, died June 21 at a Hospice in Branford, CT that he had entered four days earlier. He had been ill for many months. Word of Mapes's death was reported by Richard Stazesky, '52 B.D., a YDS classmate and close friend. Mapes was 79 and a resident of Branford at the time of his death. There will be a private internment service for the family on June 24. A public memorial service will take place at the United Church on the Green in New Haven on Saturday, July 9 at 11 a.m.
“Rick Mapes was a distinguished alumnus of Yale College and Yale Divinity School who exemplified the highest ideals of service to God, country and Yale,” said YDS Dean Harold Attridge. “Rick was staunchly loyal to both the University and to Yale Divinity School, which he served as class agent for his Class of 1952. He will be remembered with deep affection by all the members of the YDS community.”
In November 2004, he was awarded the Yale Medal, the highest award given by the Association of Yale Alumni, “conferred solely to honor outstanding individual service to the University.”
Mapes's service to the University spanned more than 50 years in a variety of capacities, including 50th Reunion Chair for the Yale College Class of 1949, class secretary, Yale College Class of 1949 agent for the Alumni Fund, AYA delegate, president of the Yale Club of the Southwest, and board member for the Yale Club of New Haven. But when he received the Yale Medal, Mapes said he associated it “primarily for the ways I've been involved with the Divinity School.” As class agent for the YDS Class of '52, which has sponsored several scholarships, Mapes helped maintain the strong bond between his class and the ongoing work of YDS. He also served the Divinity School as interim director of development and as church relations coordinator.
“He loved a challenge,” said Stazesky of his friend of many years. “He cared for everyone he met and was a very loyal and caring friend.
“He was a multifaceted person in terms of his skills and interests, a dedicated optimistic in regard to his work as the long-term class agent for the Annual Fund and for raising single handedly the two endowed scholarships for the YDS Class of 1952—one for $85,215 in 1994 and one for $100,000 in 2002.”
During his distinguished career, Mapes received numerous other awards also, including—but are not limited to—the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League's Torch of Liberty award, recognition as a Master Builder by Habitat for Humanity, and the God & Country award from Yale during the Tercentennial celebrations.
After graduating from YDS, Mapes served as a pastor in Ohio and Florida, worked at Oberlin Graduate School of Theology and Vanderbilt Divinity School, and at the UCC denominational offices.
Born and raised in New Haven, he maintained an active local connection. After his return to Connecticut in 1991, he served tenures as vice president of the Community Action Agency of New Haven and as president and treasurer of the Interfaith Cooperative Ministries, a collection of 40 congregations in New Haven.
Among Mapes's survivors are his wife, Marianne, a member of the YDS Class of '53, four children, two sisters and seven grandchildren.
“Rick was a wonderful fellow, a marvelous minister and a true Yalie, both for the college and YDS,” said Stazesky. “It is a sad loss.”
The family asks that in lieu of flowers all memorial gifts go to help in establishing the Richard M. Mapes Scholarship Fund.