CHRISTIAN BREAKING NEWS: Rev. Dr. Gary Putnam, Pastor Emeritus, Central UMC, Stockton, CA (November 27, 1939 – June 23, 2024) | Celebration of Life: Saturday, July 6 10:00 AM PT [#GaryPutnam #RevDrGaryPutnam #RevGaryPutnam #DrGaryPutnam]


Saturday, July 6, 10:00 AM PT
Central United Methodist Church
3700 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95204

University of the Pacific Vereschagin Alumni House
1022 Dave Brubeck Way, Stockton, CA 95211
Source: CUMC STOCKTON YouTube Channel, @cumcstockton816

Rev. Dr. Gary Putnam
Pastor Emeritus
The Rev. Dr. Gary Putnam served as Senior Pastor at Central UMC 1990-2003. His is the longest tenure of all pastors in the 171 years of our church. Previously he served as Pacific’s University Chaplain, and in campus ministries in Iowa and Wisconsin.

Gary Bruce Putnam
November 27, 1939 – June 23, 2024
Obituary of Gary Bruce Putnam

Gary Bruce Putnam of Stockton, CA peacefully passed away surrounded by family on Sunday, June 23, 2024. Gary was born in Lynch, Nebraska on November 27, 1939, to Frederik Arthur Putnam and Alice Tena Samuelson. The family moved to Mapleton, Iowa and Gary grew up on a bucolic farm nestled in rolling hills of corn fields. Here his roots of valuing hard work, community, and faith were established. He attended Mapleton High School, ’57 and received his bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University, ’61, where he shifted from aeronautical engineering to focus on ministry and religious studies. Gary’s graduate degree was completed at Garrett Theological Seminary/Northwestern University in Evanston, IL which was a time of further developing his interests in the church, social justice and service to others. Following his marriage to Jennifer Taft Cook (divorced in 1976), they welcomed two daughters, Elizabeth, 1965, and Margaret, 1967. He earned his Doctorate of Ministry degree at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, in 1980.

Gary pursued his ministry in the Methodist church through campus life at University of Northern Iowa, University of Wisconsin/La Crosse, and the Wesley Foundation at Iowa State University. Gary’s impact at Iowa State was felt deeply within the church and on campus. Gary showed faith in action by helping students and local residents gain a sense of belonging, engagement and community through shared meals, trips to impoverished communities in Appalachia at the Lend-a-Hand center and outings to explore the beauty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains where Gary climbed Long’s Peak twice in one day. Gary developed a lifelong group of friends in Ames and met his future wife, Gillian Murphy. They moved to Stockton in 1983.

Gary accepted the chaplaincy at University of the Pacific and provided a sense of support for the student body and the extended community. He led worship services and countless weddings at the idyllic Morris Chapel, taught classes in religious studies, and counseled those in need.

In 1990, Gary was named senior pastor at Central United Methodist Church. This was a significant shift from campus ministry and grew to encompass the totality of life from baptisms to funerals as well as the joys and sorrows of the congregation. His responsibilities included balancing the administrative matters with the spiritual priorities of the church. He retired in 2003 yet continued to perform a multitude of services for area churches and organizations.

Gary was a gifted orator and charmed audiences with the wisdom, insights, and wit of Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain. Over many decades, his portrayals were an opportunity to explore the thoughts and convictions of these great leaders through their original writings and speeches. The performances helped modern audiences find relevance and meaning in their words.

If asked about a subject in a book he had in his vast library, Gary would open the book to the passages being discussed. He found inspiration in books for his weekly sermons. He also found inspiration in every day happenings. His sermons were filled with wisdom, humor and relevance to the world around us.

Gary continued his lifelong commitment to social justice, interfaith leadership, and equality, while matching faith up against difficult questions and turbulent times. He tried to mediate and minimize violence at a remembrance of the Wounded Knee massacre in South Dakota, marched with Martin Luther King in Washington DC to advocate for civil and economic rights, and comforted the community by coordinating a memorial service at the Stockton Civic Auditorium following the tragic Cleveland Elementary School shooting. Among the many organizations Gary volunteered are the Peace & Justice Network, Planned Parenthood, the Stockton Arts Commission, and the Rotary Club of Stockton where he served as President in 2008 and delighted in the annual Dictionary presentation to third grade classes.

Gary is survived by his wife, Gillian Murphy, daughters Beth Bicknell (Ted), and Margaret Munk Hansen (Jes), grandchildren Jenna, Garrett, Alexander, Nicolas, Andreas and Eva as well as Nikki, Cricket, Bryce and Davis, many nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, and the Murphy/McDonagh clan in Ireland and the UK. He was preceded in death by his brother, Dale K. Putnam.

Gary’s life will be celebrated on Saturday, July 6, at 10 a.m., at Central United Methodist Church, 3700 Pacific Avenue, Stockton. A reception will follow at the University of the Pacific Vereschagin Alumni House. The service will be live streamed at (click on Facebook or YouTube).

If lieu of flowers, if you choose to donate, please consider one of the following or a charity of your choice: Wesley Foundation at Collegiate United Methodist Church Endowment, Ames, Iowa; Gary B. Putnam Scholarship Fund at Garrett Evangelical Theology Seminary, Evanston, Illinois; or the Gary B. Putnam Music Fund at Central United Methodist Church, Stockton.

REV. DR. GARY PUTNAM, PASTOR EMERITUS (1939 – 2024) | CELEBRATION OF LIFE: SAT., JUL. 6 10:00 AM PT | Christian Breaking News!

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