Death of Dr. H. H. Oberly (1914)

The Rev. Henry Harrison Oberly, D.D., rector of Christ church, Elizabeth, New Jersey, for almost thirty-five years, passed peacefully away at the rectory on the morning of March 19 after a six weeks’ illness. Though not in good health since midsummer, no alarm had been felt until less than two weeks before his end came. His long rectorate has made his parish represent in an unusual degree the strong, loyal Churchmanship of its rector. It is now one of the largest parishes in the diocese. As speaker and writer he has often been able to bring forward clear and convincing solutions of controversies and discussions of policy which have made him a valuable member of committees and conventions. He served for many years on the Standing Committee, and was deputy to General Convention in 1901, 1904 and 1910. He has also taken a prominent part in local and secular affairs, particularly in helping to abolish race-track gambling and more recently in the work of the Charity Organization Society, in which he held responsible offices.

Dr. Oberly was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1841. He was prepared for college at Racine by the Rev. Dr. James De Koven, and graduated from Trinity College in 1865 and from Berkeley Divinity School in 1867. He was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Williams and served for a short time as curate at the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and for two years at Trinity church, New York City. He was advanced to the priesthood in 1869 by Bishop Horatio Potter. He was made rector of Christ church, Elizabeth, New Jersey, in June, 1879. The degree of Doctor in Divinity was conferred by Trinity College in 1899. Dr. and Mrs. Oberly were on board the Cunard steamship “Slavonia” in 1909 which was wrecked on a small island of the Azores, from which the passengers were rescued after much peril and hardship by steamers summoned by wireless messages.

The funeral services were held at Christ church on March 21. At 10:30 the church was crowded with a congregation which represented the municipal government, civic organizations, the parish and diocese. The Burial Office was said by the Rev. L. E. Hubbard of St. John’s church, the Rev. W. S. Baer of Trinity church, Elizabeth, and the Rev. E. P. Little. At the Communion service which followed, the celebrant was the Rev. E. Briggs Nash, of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, whose early ministry was spent as curate under Dr. Oberly in Christ church. The Epistle was read by the Rev. J. S. Miller of Newark, and the Gospel by the Rev. A. B. Baker, D.D., of Princeton, president of the Standing Committee. The interment was made privately in Evergreen Cemetery later in the day.

The Churchman, March 28, 1914, p. 408.

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