Born three days and 120 miles apart, Dick Nolan and Bob Pingpank celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2005. Both cradle Episcopalians, Bob is a Connecticut native, and Dick is from Massachusetts. Their life together began at the freshmen orientation picnic at Trinity College, Hartford, in September of 1955.
In those days they did not know the meaning of “gay” and had no gay friends. During their college years they began to familiarize themselves with gay areas in New York City, Boston, and on vacations in the Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach region. It was quite an adventure, some of it exciting, and some repelling.
After college, Bob taught high school mathematics, primarily in his hometown, and earned a master’s degree in secondary school administration, later a 6th year certificate. Dick went on to complete his theological education for ordination in the Episcopal Church, later another master’s in religion, and eventually a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion. His composite career involved ministry, teaching, and writing. Their caution about living together for fear of losing job security, or advancement, didn’t prevent them from maturing as a committed couple – although they had never spoken any marital-like vows until their legal marriage in 2009.
In 1967, they finally moved into a unique house together that Bob designed: a two-family structure with two apartments with separate addresses and telephone numbers. During their 27 years there, neither ran into any occupational obstacles. Furthermore, their very straight blue-collar, Italian, Roman Catholic neighbors never raised an eyebrow about “the teachers” and encouraged their own sons to do chores, such as mowing their lawn and shoveling snow, whenever Dick and Bob needed them. As time went on, they chose to become selectively out – especially in the small Episcopal Church they both served – Dick as part-time pastor and Bob as voluntary treasurer. Eventually they outed themselves to a Bishop of Connecticut who was gay-friendly.
The couple early-retired to Florida in 1994 and are now totally out. There are no more cautions necessary! Moreover, they are active in Lambda Legal and the Pride Center, Fort Lauderdale. In 2005, they were the Grand Marshals of the PrideFest parade in nearby Lake Worth. During these years they have also developed an academic website [www.philosophy-religion.org] with many excellent items, written by well-informed agencies and scholars, about sexual orientations; one of Dick’s books Living Issues in Ethics is available there, too – with its chapters on love, marriage (including pre-commitment questions), family and sexual ethics. Dick has been named retired honorary canon for life of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Conn.
The story of their decades together through 2005 is available in an online book “Soul Mates: More Than Partners” – mostly written by a late, straight, grandmother-friend of theirs. They updated it with the final chapter on their retirement years and provide monthly updates. The book is in their “scrapbook” [www.nolan-pingpank.com] originally put together for friends and family, but now is widely consulted as a “case study.” Recent newspaper articles about them are in the “Bob and Rich” subsite.
Capping their years together was a 2005 celebration and blessing of their 50-year commitment at the internationally respected Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and their 2009 legal marriage in the Trinity College Chapel, Hartford, CT. (as reported in the New York Times on June 7). Additionally they are both included in Marquis' Who's Who in America beginning with the Diamond edition of 2006. Dick and Bob celebrated their 75th birthdays in 2012. They currently live independently in the John Knox Village, an inclusive "continuing care retirement community" in Pompano Beach, Florida. http://www.johnknoxvillage.com.
(This biographical statement provided by Richard Nolan. In above picture, Bob is on the left and Dick is on the right.)
Biography Date: November, 2005
Episcopal Church | Author/editor | Marriage Equality
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