Reverend Canon Natalia “Tanya” Vonnegut

March 5, 1932 – December 14, 2020

Tanya was a woman of many accomplishments.

She was a priest, a storyteller, a musician, a puppeteer, a writer, an innovator, a farmer, a teacher, a mentor, a spiritual guide, a therapist, a wife, a mother and a grandmother.

Tanya was the only child of Margaret Spaulding Beck and Robert Beck. She was born and raised in Anderson, Indiana. In 1954, she graduated DePauw University with a BA in English. In 1955, she graduated Ball State University with an MA in Communication.

She married Ralph Vonnegut, Jr., October 29, 1955. Together, they had four children and, although they divorced, Tanya and Ralph remained good friends until his death in 2000.

Tanya created community wherever she went. At St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Crawfordsville, where she attended church as a young wife and mother, she created “the Coffee House” a space for Wabash College students to gather, eat spaghetti and feed their souls.

In 1975, as a new deacon in the Episcopal church, she started the Julian Mission (now Julian Center). It offered “crisis help for battered women, rape victims, depressed housewives and worried adolescents.” It was the first center of its kind in Indiana.

In 1977, she became the second woman to be ordained regularly in the Episcopal Church and has served many congregations throughout Indiana and Florida. She excelled at serving as an interim priest, empowering congregations to move forward with their ministries.

In 1990, through St. John’s Church in Clearwater, Florida, she founded The Pilgrimage to foster “reverence for the Spirit and . . .provide a loving, healing presence for all. ”

Tanya’s life mission was to empower others. She did that with her students, her congregants, her mentees, her children and grandchildren.

She loved her family immensely, and she loved humankind in general.

Tanya loved dogs – hers and everyone else’s.

Tanya loved music and theatre both as a performer and as a member of the audience.

Tanya loved good food – cooking it and eating it.

Tanya loved to learn and had an open mind and open heart. She found meaning in every encounter.

Tanya loved beauty, in nature, clothing and decor. Although she appreciated the finer things in life, she was completely down to earth. The beauty that she offered the world was simply a genuine reflection of the beauty inside of her.

She is survived by children, Robert (Beth) Vonnegut, Nonie (David) Vonnegut-Gabovitch, Kristin (Thomas Huffman) Vonnegut, and Daniel (Heather Swain) Vonnegut; 12 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren; and many dear friends including William Templeton, Sr.

Services will be held via ZOOM at Holy Family Episcopal Church on Tuesday, December 22, from 2:00 to 4:30 PM. A link to join the service will be posted on her Facebook page and on her obituary at

Please consider charitable donations to the Julian Center ( or the Robin Run Scholarship Fund (for the staff) at Robin Run Village, 5354 W. 62nd St. Indianapolis, IN 46268.

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The Julian Center empowers survivors of domestic and sexual violence and creates a community where every individual is safe and respected. And we are proud to be the largest organization of its kind in Indiana.

Since 1975, we have assisted more than 66,350 people and educated over 365,750 others on the causes and effects of domestic and sexual violence and its impact on our community.