Alanson Houghton


Alanson Bigelow Houghton liked to say he had three careers: a businessman with his family’s Corning Glass Works in New York; an Episcopal priest; and a public servant. They all benefited Charleston in some way.

Mr. Houghton, who died Jan. 24 on Pawley’s Island, used his business skills and his wealth to help start and support the Interfaith Crisis Shelter (now One80 Place). He was a donor to and a board member of Trident Community Foundation (now Coastal Community Foundation). He served, without a salary, as rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church during its successful transformation from an all-black congregation to an integrated one — one that made it a practice to give half its annual income to charity.

The Rev. Mr. Houghton was author of several books, including “Partners in Love, Ingredients for a Deep and Lively Marriage” and “Be Not Afraid, Words of Hope and Promise,” which is about death.

The South Carolina Christian Action Council in 1989 awarded him the Howard G. McClain Christian Action Award for “his extensive work in helping others,” including volunteering to help victims of crimes, working with pregnant teens, helping those who mourn, registering voters and ministering to those in prison. He also was involved in ministering to AIDS patients. And as a man of both charm and substance, he was able to help an uneasy public understand the frightening disease better.

The Rev. Mr. Houghton, who was 85 at his death, lived his last years in Pawley’s Island, but his legacy in Charleston is profound.