Our Organization


Tom Jennings succeeds George Oertel as Coordinator of the Humanists at Barefoot Bay and will continue as its Director of Media Relations.

Tom, a semi-retired resident of Vero Beach, is a cum laude graduate of the now defunct Boston State College. He has written regular columns for several local publications and contributed to numerous baseball magazines. Tom also belongs to various clubs, including the Barefoot Bay Marine Corps League and the Vero Senior Rhythm Band and Chorus.

Through no fault of his own, he was brought up in the Catholic Church. But, while serving in the Army he had an epiphany that led him to question his beliefs and eventually to researching alternative religions and philosophies. His reading Tom Paine's "Age of Reason" played a key role in his transitioning first to atheism and finally to the less confrontational but spiritually similar Humanism. Tom is also an accomplished actor, singer and keyboard artist. For eight years he stood stock still as first tenor in the chorus of the Treasure Coast Opera Society.

As Coordinator he hopes, with steadfast assistance from all the members of the club, to increase the size and outreach of the club and pursue aggressively humanist goals.


Ruth, the keeper of the exchequer among other varied duties, knows a god thing when she sees it. She attended the first meeting of the Humanists at Barefoot Bay and immediately joined when she realized she was in general agreement with the views expressed in "Humanist Aspirations."

A 30 plus year resident of Barefoot Bay, she is a tried-and-true lover of the written word, setting aside enough free time to have been President of the Friends of the Library and founding member and an officer in the Barefoot Bay Democratic Club for many years.


See above for details on Tom.


A regular member of the Humanists at Barefoot Bay since 2007, Bob never met an idea that he didn’t feel should be open to analysis, particularly those in the arenas of philosophy, literature, the maritime sciences and psychology.

Bob served in the Navy and was married to the Merchant Marines for a total of 26 years.

He taught psychology at the university level and likes nothing better than dueling definitions with others of the same or even dissimilar persuasions.

Joining the Humanists at Barefoot Bay was almost “preordained” as Bob lives “just down the street” from Barefoot Bay.

Among his career highlights: Bob was employed as a staff psychologist and later promoted to Director of Psychology at Abbie Lane Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Bob is a proponent of animal rights for all animals, whether they be companion animals, farm animals, or wildlife.

Now retired, Bob founded the Daphne Foundation, a charitable organization to help the animals of Brevard County. Annually, this foundation presents the "James Herriot Award" to the Brevard veterinarian who has demonstrated the most humaneness toward animals.


uch like Bob, Jim has an affinity for things wet and wild. Following a four-year U.S. Navy enlistment, Jim obtained a degree in physical sciences but chose to stay with his career of teaching aircraft electronics to sailors. Now retired, Jim resides on a two-acre swamp in Malabar, Florida, where he enjoys growing bananas, pineapples and rice.

Jim doesn’t attend every meeting, but when he does show up he always makes an impact with his wit and wisdom and steadfast commitment to humanism.

Although an avowed atheist, Jim respects everyone's right to search for and believe whatever religious truths they can find.


Walt, a primary cog in the club’s publicity machine, is wont to wend his way through our Web site whenever the mood strikes him. Though retired he continues to pursue his primary hobbies: Marquetry and Computers.

Although currently residing in Vero Beach, he still enjoys publishing the Barefoot Bay Homeowners Newsletter and remains active in the affairs of the Barefoot Bay Computer Club, particularly in the area of assisting members and friends with computer problems.

Walt considers himself a freethinker whose religious viewpoints are based on facts and reason, independent of authority and established belief. He would welcome your comment and suggestions for improvement of the Web site.

_  _  _  _  _ 


Died: January 8, 2010

A great man is dead. George Oertel, 92, founder and coordinator of the Humanists at Barefoot Bay, died suddenly about 1:45 a.m., January 8, 2010. He was a man devoted to the philosophy of positive sharing in a very human way. Though a soft-spoken spokesman, he was always driven to spread the gospel of humanism, yet willing to give those with other worldviews a chance to address issues of common interest. George will be missed as much for who he was as for how much he furthered the cause of humanism.

George was a former member of the New York Ethical Culture Society; founding member of the Long Island Ethical Humanist Society; member of the American Humanist Association; member of the Humanists of Florida Association, and fundamentally an Agnostic Humanist, inspired by Felix Adler's version of the Golden Rule: "Act so as to elicit the best in others; in so doing, you will bring out the best in yourself."

*  *  *  *  *

TC Palm (Press Journal) Editorial Writer Kenric Ward who blogs about issues and items in Indian River County, posted the following blog titled "Living a Humanist Life," dated January 11, 2010:

Longtime reader and prolific letter writer George Oertel passed away Jan. 8. Oertel was a passionate proponent of Humanism, regularly providing provocative counterpoints to Christian-oriented contributors in the Press Journal's letters section.

The 92-year-old Barefoot Bay resident founded the local Humanist Association and helped to build the organization. He brought his passion and expertise from New York, where he started the Long Island Ethical Humanist Society.

The local club's Web site carries this mantra from Felix Adler, which Oertel embraced: "Act so as to elicit the best in others; in doing so, you will bring out the best in yourself."

Tom Jennings, who is taking over as coordinator of the club, pledged:

"We'll keep on plugging away in our effort to inform the general public that there is a viable, guilt-free alternative to organized religion. I think George would have liked that."

Died: April 17, 2009

What is a humanist celebrant?

The function of a humanist celebrant is analogous to that of a minister, clergy person, pastor, priest, or rabbi. Pastoral counseling is often necessary for preparing a wedding or memorial. This is common practice among all clergy, and a humanist celebrant is expected to help clients sort out questions about ethics and morals as they apply to humanism.

Return to Home Page