HENDERSONVILLE, N.C.––Delbert "Del" Ketcham, a former staff member of the General Commission on UM Men, died April 29, following a five-month battle with lung cancer.
Del served as Hunger Relief Advocate in the Nashville office of GCUMM from 2001 to 2007. During that time, he edited “Mission News” in UM Men magazine, and led potato drops and gleaning efforts for the Society of St. Andrew.
In Nashville, Del and his wife, Sheila, were members of Edgehill UMC and Del managed the Edgehill Community Garden. His efforts to provide food security for the city resulted in the 2007 creation of Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee. That organization continues Del’s work today.
In late 2007, Del and Sheila moved from Nashville to Wiscasset, Maine, where he served as a substitute teacher at the high school, manager of the Margaret Ellis Community Garden, and founder of the Morris Farm Store. He also served on the board of the Wiscasset Public Library and provided backpacks for Wiscasset children. The couple attended East Boothbay UMC and Bath UMC prior to their 2014 move to North Carolina to be near their children and granddaughter.
Del was passionate about injustices and could make a speech without notes or notice to shed light on a problem and offer a solution. He took personal risks to work for improvements in education, housing, hunger relief, food security, environmental justice and for a politically informed public.
Del was born in Biddeford, Maine, in 1939 and moved to Weymouth, Mass., in 1947. His famous "green thumb" began in his family's commercial greenhouses there, where he learned to propagate plants and help in all aspects of the family business, Ketcham Flowers. He was a member of the Future Farmers of America through the 1950s and won many prizes in local and state fairs and 4H groups.
Del graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1963 with degrees in biology and education and a minor in political science. He taught junior high students in Grafton and Brockton, Mass., for more than 10 years. In the 1970s, he managed restaurants in Boston and New Orleans. Del owned G&P Expeditors in Quincy, Mass., in the 1980s and 1990s. During these decades, he was an early advocate for community access television in Weymouth, Mass., producing programs and hosting two weekly interview shows that examined local and national issues for the community.
Del is survived by his beloved wife, Sheila deBettencourt; son, Jason Ketcham; step-children, Angie Buxton, Christina Souza, Dan deBettencourt and their spouses; as well as his precious grand-daughter, Aquinnah deBettencourt. He was predeceased by his son Delbert Blois Ketcham.
To leave a condolence for the Ketcham family, please visit "obituaries" at www.moore-fh.com.
Photo 1 - Del and his granddaughter plant seeds together.
Photo 2 - Del shows off his harvest of brocolli.