Our Minister, Dr. Frank Placone-Willey







Frank was born in Alabama and raised in Texas. He was baptized an Episcopalian and later confirmed as a Presbyterian. As a teen and young adult, he lived and worked in an ecumenical street mission in Austin, where he attended the University of Texas and later graduated with highest honors from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Ordained in 1985, he ministered in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. until 1997 when, for reasons of conscience, he requested honorable release from the practice of ministry in that denomination. Frank reports, “As I evolved religiously, it became increasingly difficult for me to adhere to the christo-centric and discriminatory teachings of mainline Protestantism. I discovered Unitarian Universalism, finding here a religious community where I belonged.”

frank3groupaFrank has over twenty-five years of professional experience in institutional ministry and psychospiritual care. He has ministered in congregations, hospitals, theological schools, hospices, denominational agencies and counseling centers. As a UU, he completed a 2-year internship at Summit Fellowship. Over the past 8 years he has served as consulting minister for the Coronado Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito. Frank’s peripatetic work throughout our cluster once moved the Rev. Tom Owen-Towle to refer to him as our region’s “utility infielder.”

FrankMEShuHe has volunteered with community agencies serving the homeless in Illinois and Kentucky, a variety of fundraising causes as a paid professional and volunteer, and local ministerial associations. He is an approved Fellow in the American College of Chaplains. In 2003, he was awarded the Sally Breuner Howe Spirit of Caring Award by the Sharp Healthcare Foundation for his work with the dying and bereaved.

frankwoodA life-long learner, Frank holds masters degrees in divinity, marriage and family therapy, and counseling psychology. He completed his Ph.D. in the fields of psychology and religion. His post-graduate studies have included the study of liberal theology under Professor Thandeka at Meadville-Lombard Theological Seminary, counseling internships in Austin and San Diego, and a year-long fellowship while a spiritual counselor and team case manager at San Diego Hospice and the Institute for Palliative Medicine.

millie-and-wallyIn 2007, with his wife Pilar, Frank transferred membership from First Church San Diego to Summit Fellowship. They have two children, Ian and Claire, who, now in their thirties, are busy creating families, working, and exploring the larger world.  Their third and fourth child, Millie (a wire-haired terrier mix) and Wally (a malti-poo) still live at home.


“Our common ministry at Summit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is rooted in that living tradition celebrated in the services and life of our congregation.”

Frank enthusiastically exclaims, “Come out and join us!”