Congregational Church of Austin,
United Church of Christ
Men's Book Club

Club Coordinator: Rambie Briggs
Ph. 512 267-4832

Previous Coordinator: Dave Ross

Email Rambie

Club History:

The book club started in 1992 and consisted of men from the Congregational Church of Austin, United Church of Christ at 408 23rd Street, near the University of Texas. Meetings, held at 7:30 pm on the third Wednesday of each month, were hosted by members of the club. As the years passed, members would invite friends to attend. and often they would become permanent members and added a rich diversity of interests and backgrounds to the mix. Rambie Briggs, David Ross and Dennis Murphy are charter members The club has read over 250 books. The corona virus has forced meeting via Zoom temporarily. Failing eyesights have forced our meeting time to 10:00 AM.






Because of Corona Virus we now have Zoom meetings.

Next Meeting

October 20, 2020, Wednesday, 10:00 AM
Exhalation: Stories

Ted Chiang

Saj Maqsood will email members the link and the password to the Zoom meeting a week or so before.

His contact information is

Phone: (‭(972) 679-2268‬‬‬‬

Click on Google map icon below to go to members' maps.










Click Google Maps icon above to find member's address.

2020 Schedule
Date Book Title Author Host
February 19, 2020 How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer Sarah Bakewell Saj Maqsood
April 6, 2020 Muck: A Novel -Meeting Canceled rescheduled for April Dror Burstein Zoom Meeting
May 4, 2020 The Overstory: A Novel Richard Powers Zoom Meeting
June 17, 2020 Lakota America:  A New History of Indigenous Power (The Lamar Series in Western History)   Pekka Hamalainen Zoom Meeting
June 1, 2020 Poetry at the Lake with the Women's Book Club– Canceled Bring Your Own Rambie & Fran Briggs
July 15, 2020 Alexander Hamilton Ron Chernow Zoom Metting
August 19, 2020 Death is Now My Neighbor (Inspector Morse Book 12)

Colin Dexter

Zoom Meeting
September 16, 2020 Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Hariri Zoom Meeting
October 21, 2020 Exhalation: Stories Ted Chiang   Zoom Meeting
November 18, 2020 Nothing Like It in The World:  The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869 Stephen Ambrose Zoom Meeting
December, 2020 No Meeting    
January 20, 2021 Books Selections Meeting None Dave Ross
February 17, 2021 The Reckoning: A Novel John Grisham TBA


Men's Bookclub Members, November 2017, Home of Mel and Pat Oakes
Left to Right:

Seated: Rambie Briggs, Roger Bengtson, Mel Oakes

Second Row: Michael Rotman, Dennis Murphy, Gordon Huth, Al Lindsey, Bill Briggs, Loren Stell

Back Row: Saj Maqsood, Jim Keeler, Michael Hall, Don Brown, Sam Sutherland, Carl Hehmsoth

Missing Regulars: Dave Ross and Jim Vick

Dave Ross
Jim Vick








2/21/08  The Men's Book Club--Back Row: Michael Rotman, Carl Hehmuth, Dave Ross, Don Brown, Matt Blackstock, Ben White, Jesse Binford, Paul Landry, Bill Briggs, and Joe Dunst

, Front Row: Mel Oakes, John Towery and Rambie Briggs.



In Memoriam

John Chesley Towery (1925-2014)
Charter Member of Book Club
John was the minster of the Congregational Church of Austin, United Church of Christ, for 30 years. His impact on his congregation, his community and his family will long be felt in so many important ways. John, Ben, Matt, Jesse, Jim, David and Carl lived lives of service that most of us can only aspire to. However they left a well marked path for us to follow. —Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies



Jesse Stone Binford (1928-2014)
Member of Book Club
Jesse and his wife Lolita came to Austin in 1955 to join the UT Chemistry Faculty, He was very active in the Congregational Church of Austin. He spent most of his career at the University of South Florida. In 2003, following retirement, they returned to Austin. Jesse was a principled and caring man who fought injustice all his life. His support of the less fortunate was a corner stone of his life of service. —Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies


Mathis Wilholte Blackstock (1925-2012)
Charter Member of Book Club
How fortunate our book club was to have seven of the finest men most of us have ever known. To lose four over the past three years saddens us on many levels. What a privilege to have known them. Matt lived a life of dedication to his fellow man that stands tall. So many felt his healing touch. It continues. —Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies



Ben Henson White (1923-2011)
Charter Member of Book Club
When I received notes from the book club with the salutation "Gentlemen" I was never sure if I deserved the title, however, there was never a doubt that Ben did. I never knew a finer man. To be in his presence was a pleasure and an honor. His passion for justice and equality never flagged. His passing diminishes us all, and yet his life inspires us to reach higher. Ben accomplished much in his long life and kindness was his currency. —Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies

James Tomasek Jr. (1929-2005)
Charter Member of Book Club
Conversations with Jim always revealed some surprise about his life and career. From an early age he was concerned about racial justice and he chose pastoral appointments that gave him an opportunity to work toward equality. He was at the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech. He was disappointed that family responsibilities prevented him from participating in the Selma March. Jim and his wife Mary loved the theater and were involved since their school days. Jim’s dedication to justice and fairness is dearly missed. —Mel Oakes

Link to Obit and Eulogies

David Z. Lippmann (1925-2015)

Following his WWII service in France, David had a distinguished career as a research chemist at the forefront of the development of rocket engines, David was a professor of chemistry for 50 years. His resumé includes patents, many papers, and service to professional organizations. He enjoyed reading and writing outside of his discipline. He was a published author. Behind his quiet demeanor was an insightful thinker and a sensitive and critical observer of the world around him.—Mel Oakes

Link to Obituary

Carl Jennings Rigney (1925-2011)

WWII interupted Carl's education at UT. Following service in the US Navy, he continued his eduacation at U. of Louisville in electrical engineering on the GI Bill. He then completed a masters and doctorate at Northwestern University where he met his wife Margaret. Carl then had a number of temporary teaching jobs before returning to Texas where he had a distringuished career as an educator. He taught at Stephen F. Austin U. and at Lamar University where he served as chair. Carl was a kind and softspoken man with a deep concern for the less fortunate in society. His son, David, referred to him as a "progressive populist." My conversations with him enroute to bookclub were often about some social problem the country or the communty was facing. He always empathized with the less fortunate and vulnerable in our country. He was a man of principle wrapped in compassion.—Mel Oakes

Link to Obituary













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