St. Martin’s Church, part 3 – Richard H. Gurley, WWI

By his resignation to become effective next month, the Reverend Richard H. Gurley terminates a pastorate of more than 30 years’ duration at St. Martin’s Church, Radnor. In accepting his resignation, the members of the Vestry paid tribute to the long and amicable relations which have existed between Mr. Gurley and the members of the parish. As a final expression of their esteem they have elected him Rector Emeritus for life.

In October, 1920, Mr. Gurley came to St. Martin’s as curate in charge of the parish from St. James Church, then at 22nd and Walnut streets, Philadelphia, a church that has since gone out of existence. And on March 21 of the following year he was called as Rector of St. Martin’s, to succeed the Reverent George Lamb. He was the eight minister to serve the church in Radnor, and the first to conduct services in the Chapel at Ithan, which had just been completed at the time.

The Reverent Percival H. Hickman, who was elected rector of St. Martin’s Church on September 23, 1887, immediately after it became a parish in its own right following several years as a mission chapel of the Church of the Good Shepherd, tendered his resignation less than two years later as a “consequence of the difference of judgment as to the conduct of the parish”, to quote from the original old record book of the church.

He was succeeded by the Reverent George A. Hunt, who served from July, 1889, to November, 1891. Other rectors have been Winfield S. Baer, November 1892-June 1898; A. A. Abbott, June 1898- September 1898; Frederick A. Schultzburg, October 1898-May 1900; George A. Hunt, April 1900-September 1904, and George W. Lamb, 1904-1920.

Standing alone in St. Martin’s Church in the quietness of a weekday morning not long ago, a gentle rain falling outside, the 64-year-old edifice gave the writer the feeling of a House of God that has been reverently and lovingly cherished by its parishioners throughout all the years of is existence. Perhaps its very size makes for a certain feeling of intimacy. The many memorials, all bearing names of those closely connected with the establishment and growth of St. Martin’s, show that it is here especially that their families would have their lives commemorated.

The rood screen is known as the handsomest in any diocese in Pennsylvania. The work of the Gorham Company, of New York City, it was given by Thomas Newhall in memory of his mother, Eleanor Mercer Newhall. One large stained glass window is in memory of James W. Paul, Jr., another commemorates Margaret Perkins, Morris Wister Stroud and William Daniel Stroud, Jr., while still another is in memory of Fleurette LeBenneville Bell. A fourth commemorates Anna B. Schmidt.

The beautiful organ was presented to the church by the family of Frances Drexel Paul; the Alms Basin is a memorial to J. Franklin McFadden; the wall lanterns were given in memory of C. William Hare by Esther D. Hare; the Baptismal Font commemorates the Rt. Reverend Samuel Babcock Booth, D.D., Bishop of Vermont, 1883-1935.

Following the death of Theodora Rand Gurley, wife of the Reverent Mr. Gurley in April, 1945, a number of gifts were made to the church in her memory. Among these are the baptismal font light, the eight church lamps, and a small stained glass window near the baptismal font.

There are other memorials, too, throughout the church, none more far-reaching in its deep significance to many families than the Carillon Chimes. These have been given “to the glory of God in devoted memory of those from this parish whose lives were taken in World Wars I and II, and as a tribute of honor and respect to all of our fellowship who in these wars have served our country in its times of crisis”. Names from World Wars I are Thomas Roberts Reath, Norman Beadle Hallman and Lewis Gouverneur Smith. Those from the second war are James Dillon Jacoby, David Montgomery Haughton, George Lee Jameson Forster, Edgar Dunbar Morris, Jr., David DeHaven Conley, George Rushton Howell, Jr., John Morton Pool, 3d, John Warren, Christine Blackadder Weston, Louis Crawford Clark and Peter Van Pelt. The names have all been inscribed on a handsome bronze plaque on the right wall of the church.

For more than 25 years Mr. Gurley has been chaplain of Paoli Troop I, which last month celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding, and is one of the oldest Scout troops in America. On Boy Scout Sunday, which is celebrated in connection with Boy Scout Week each year, services have been held in St. Martin’s Church since 1926. Of those who have marched up the aisle, proudly erect in their Scout uniforms, five who were members of the Church have died in the uniforms of their country. Their names stand on the bronze honor plaque. David Conley, Lee Forster, David Haughton, Edgar Morris and George Howell.

The present Rector Warden of St. Martin’s is T. Truxtun Hare, while the accounting warden is Ledyard W. Heckscher. others serving are Edward S. Buckley, Arthur H. Clephane, Richard S. Crampton, A. Reynolds Crane, M.D., Y. Parran Dawkins, Jr., Hervert S. Henderson, Stanton C. Kelton, Vernon S. Mollenauer, William R. Spofford and W. Furness Thompson.

In closing the series of articles on St. Martin’s Church, Radnor, the write wishes to acknowledge her indebtedness to Mr. Gurley, who has permitted her the use of the old church records, in addition to giving of his own time. Thanks are also due to the church secretary, who has been most helpful with supplementary information.