Elizabeth Anne Thomson Caughran, an extraordinary woman, was born June 5, 1938, in Glasgow, Scotland; she died July 18, 2012, in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
The daughter of Samuel and Alice Thomson, Anne had an adventurer’s spirit, leading her from the Honors Masters Program at the University of Glasgow to Kentucky in the 1960s for advanced studies; back to Scotland, where she met her husband Ken Caughran (a USAF pilot) at Prestwick; and to their deployment in Tripoli, Libya.
They returned to the States in 1965 and settled in Texas for a different sort of adventure and on to Los Alamos in the 1980s. After major life changes, she felt the call to new challenges and entered Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary at age 52 to obtain her second Masters degree.
She won awards for her preaching and identified a need to serve small churches, moving to Wisconsin to lead three Presbyterian congregations over the next 15 years: Weyauwega, Wausaukee, and Athelstane.
Her parishioners noted that her Scottish accent brought a certain authenticity to her powerful sermons and her sense of humor and life experiences brought God’s love to their hearts. One of her more memorable children’s sermons focused on the question: what is God’s favorite color? She suggested it was tartan—a fabric woven of many colors with special meaning for those who wear it. (She was of the Thomson clan and wore the Thomson dress blue tartan.)
She served leadership roles in regional Presbytery committees and local community outreach, establishing monthly open-house dinner for anyone in town, a food pantry for those in need, mission programs, and serving as chaplain for local hospice and sheriffs’ departments.
Her work mentoring women in the church created a ripple effect, with more than eight women in different denominations entering ministry with her encouragement and guidance. For many years, she led small, personalized group tours from the States to Scotland, sharing her country, life-long friends, and favorite Celtic spiritual “thin places” with many from Los Alamos and Wisconsin. Upon retirement in 2006, she returned to Los Alamos, where she continued ministry with invited Sundays in Chimayo, Truchas, Peñasco, Magdelena, Jemez Springs and Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Los Alamos.
Anne’s survivors include her daughter, Alison Grieggs; son-in-law, Tony Grieggs and granddaughter, Roxanne of Los Alamos; her son, Bruce Caughran, daughter-in-law, Octavia Kincaid; granddaughter, Ailsa and grandson, James of Oak Park, Illinois; dear friends and family in Scotland and the States; and three congregations.
Celebrations of Anne’s life and ministry are planned for August with memorial services in Los Alamos at United Church and Weyawega, Wisconsin at the First Presbyterian Church (dates to be announced).
If you wish, memorials may be made to Ambercare Hospice [410 South Paseo de Oñate, Española, N.M. 87532], who provided exceptional comfort and care to Anne and her family. To leave condolences, please visit www.devargasfuneral.com.
The family of Elizabeth Anne Thomson Caughran have entrusted the care of their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Española Valley.