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Obituaries (1867-68) in the 1869 Register
Elam Porter, Esq. was among the killed at the frightful "Angola disaster," December 18, 1867. Born in Hartford, Vt., April 27, 1837, and graduated at Tufts College, he had been a successful teacher in South Reading, Mass. While there he pursued the study of law, under J. P. Healy of Boston, and was admitted to the Bar. Removing to Ohio, he had settled in Cincinnati, and was rapidly gaining a lucrative practice, winning meanwhile the love and respect of all with whom he had become associated. A Universalist from thorough conviction, he was ever able and ready to give reasons for the faith he cherished. Wherever he was, he identified himself with our cause. In South Reading he was the Superintendent of the Sunday School. In Cincinnati he was a member of the Bible Class, in connection with the First Church. He felt and said, that no more promising opportunities for Christian labor were to be found, than in the Sunday School. Few men have given greater promise of usefulness in the Church and in the world, and few so gifted in mind and heart.
At the time of the accident by which this noble young man met his death, he was on his way to visit his invalid mother in Vermont, and there to meet his affianced, to whom he was to be united on Christmas day. The cars were thrown down the steep embankment, and the devouring element enveloped the ruins. Only a bunch of keys, with Mr. Porter's name and residence on the ring that bound them, was left to tell the tale. His body, with many others, could not be identified.
Mrs. Sarah Packard, widow of the late Silvanus Packard, died July 12th, at the advanced age of 83 years and 4 months. Beginning life with her late departed companion, she fully shared with him in all his joys and sorrows, till death deprived her of his bodily presence. For his successes he was largely indebted to her prudent management and wise foresight. Like him, she rejoiced in the hope of a world's salvation through Christ., and was for many years a consistent member of the School Street Church. Scarcely less than her husband, she had endeared herself to the friends of Universalism, by the zeal with which she entered into and seconded his munificent generosity to Tufts College. She fully sympathized with him in all he purposed and executed in behalf of our educational institutions and of the truth generally. Having no children, they wisely determined to invest their ample accumulations where they should yield large and increasing returns to the children of the household of faith. She has joined her departed companion, where we trust they can see the good influences of those ample means they had consecrated in life to the cause of education in connection with the denomination with which they had so long been identified. She rests from her labors, and her works do follow her.
Rev. John Libby died in St. Louis, August 18th, without sickness and almost without pain. Retiring at 11 o'clock after his usual family prayers, he died at 2 o'clock. Mr. Libby was a native of Maine, where he labored many years as a Methodist minister. He was highly esteemed in that connection, and regarded as one of their most successful preachers. Removing to the West, he became convinced of the truth of Universalism, and for many years preached it with zeal and efficiency. "He at length moved to St. Louis and went into secular business, in which he never forgot the cause of his Master, serving it in every way he could, visiting the sick, attending funerals, writing, publishing temperance papers, organizing and promoting temperance associations, and helping on every cause of philanthropy and righteousness. A zealous anti-slavery advocate, he did efficient service in the cause of freedom till he saw his adopted State free from the curse of its young life. The three great ideas that animated his life were freedom, temperance and religion, in the service of which he never faltered. His strong mind, commanding presence, vigorous speech, active life in fellow-service, and hearty social qualities, won him many friends and held them fast to the end. So pass on the noble workers in the Master's cause to the better service in the better world."
Mrs. Helen L. (Gilson) Osgood died in Boston, in April last. A few years before the breaking out of the Rebellion she became interested in our religious views through the preaching of Rev. C. H. Leonard, of Chelsea, who afterwards became her pastor, and to whom her attachment was peculiarly strong. The light and hope that came to her, the strength and peace that entered into her life through the faith which he was God's instrument in bringing to her, filled her with such gratitude as only a soul born out of darkness into light, can feel or express. She connected herself with Mr. Leonard's church, and passed her few years of life as a Universalist, in an enthusiasm for her new faith as beautiful as it was constant. No one acquainted with her during this period could doubt, if he were inclined to before, the power of Universalism to awaken in a noble and deeply religious nature the highest as well as the purest spiritual joy. From that time her whole heart yearned to do good. Her prayer was that she might exemplify her religion, "Our strong and beautiful Faith," as she always called it, not only in unnoticed ways in the daily life, but in some special service for God and humanity. How well that prayer was answered all, who have heard the story of her labors in the hospitals, know full well. When the first note of war sounded, and the first cry came from the field and the hospital, she said: "I must go. Pray that the way may be opened for me." God did open the way. He led his earnest and faithful child. From the beginning to the end of the war she labored incessantly; and was at or near every battle in which the Army of the Potomac was engaged, except the first battle of Bull-Run. The good she did is really above the comprehension of those who were not cognizant of her movements in the Army. In the field amid the carnage; in the streets of the deserted town where the wounded were scattered; and in the hospital where the sick and dying sighed for relief, and longed for home and rest, she was an angel of mercy. One of the last things she did in the Army was to organize a hospital for colored soldiers. It was an extraordinary task. Experienced surgeons said, no man could do this; and all her friends tried to dissuade her from the undertaking. But the more she heard of the sufferings and death among the colored troops that were huddled together at City Point, the stronger was her desire to go and help them. She said: "I cannot die in a cause more sacred," and started out alone. In a little while she organized a kitchen upon her method of special diet, arranged the wards, taught the nurses, and reduced all things to system and order. "The entire management was like the ticking of a clockregular discipline, gentle firmness, and sweet temper always." At one time there were nine hundred men in the hospital, and she knew every patient and his special need. If she had done no other work, this were enough to give her name to history. What a noble life she lived! She was a true Christian, adoring her God, loving her Saviour, giving herself for the good of others.
Rev. J. D. Hicks died at St. Johnsville, N.Y., March 1st, aged 72. He was one of the best and most beloved of men. Born in Warren, Herkimer County, N.Y., there he resided a number of years. There he became an exhorter in the Methodist Episcopal Church. At length the light of our great faith dawned on his mind, and he became its advocate, able to give a good and logical reason for his hope.
Years ago he purchased a quiet and pleasant home in the same county, and near the village of St. Johnsville, in which he ever after resided. He ministered in a large number of communities. Sometimes he was engaged to preach at a given place one Sunday; then again, for several Sundays, or for years. Fordsbush, Brookman's Corners, Salisbury, St. Johnsville, Argusville, Newville, Eatonville and other places, enjoyed his protracted labors. He was ever the sensible, earnest, acceptable preacher, particularly gifted and sympathetic at funerals, speaking always without notes. If, on any occasion, an associated preacher was unprepared, Br. Hicks could be relied upon. For his services he accepted whatever the friends might think fit to bestow, and his income was consequently small.
It was a great pleasure for him to attend the Associations and other general meetings of the denomination. Of late, the weight of years, and more still, disease, prevented him from going much from home. Repeated shocks of paralysis took this consistent minister, excellent neighbor, humble, meek, cheerful, unselfish man from his wife and son, from the host of noble, admiring friends, from the scenes of earthly labor and suffering, to the Redeemer's rest in heaven.
Rev. Maxcy B. Newell died in West Brattleboro, Vermont, January 24th, aged 60. Mr. Newell was a native of Bellingham, Massachusetts. "He spent two years in Lenox Academy, Massachusetts, in 1823-4. He began studying fur the Universalist ministry, with Rev. Dr. I. D. Williamson, in Albany, New York, in 1833. He continued his preparation for the pulpit under the direction of Rev. Stephen R. Smith, and finished it at the Clinton Liberal Institute, Clinton, New York, in 1835. He preached his first sermon, September 14, 1834, at Duansburg, New York. His first settlement was in Amsterdam, New York, and continued from 1836 to 1839. He was subsequently settled in Phillipston. Massachusetts, preaching part of the time in Shaftsbury and in neighboring towns; in Annisquam, Massachusetts, from 1842 to 1844, in Brewster, Massachusetts, from 1846 to 1848. In 1849 he removed to West Rumney. New Hampshire, preaching there and in the vicinity for two years. He preached a few months in Dover, Maine, in 1851. In 1852, he went South, and preached for shorter or longer periods in Reading, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Maryland, Norfolk, Richmond, Lynchburg and Belle Haven, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina. In 1853 he was in Perry, New York, whence he moved to West Haverhill, Massachusetts. In 1854 he went South again and preached in Florida, and in Burnt Corn, Alabama; some time at the latter place. He settled at Westmoreland, New Hampshire, in 1850, and preached there and in Paper Mill Village for two years. His first settlement in Vermont was in Guilford Centre, about ten years ago, when he supplied half of the time in West Brattleboro'. He has since preached in South Royalston, East Randolph, Marshfield and Williamsville.
After thus itinerating far more than most clergymen in any denomination, in 1864 he bought a farm in Brattleboro', the pleasantest region, in his view, he had ever seen, where he hoped to spend the remainder of his life with his children in a quiet home. But in this he was disappointed. He was inexperienced in farming, and, therefore, did not pursue it profitably. Its labor too severely taxed his strength. At a period of life when he needed repose, he was summoned by his business to increased activity. He was over-worked, and his health failed. Two weeks before his decease he was operated upon surgically for a species of dropsy. In this condition of bodily infirmity he was seized with the idea that his property was slipping away from him, and though possessed of a competence enough fur the support of himself and family without labor, he imagined that he was about to become a town dependent. His apprehended difficulties robbed him of sleep, and for two weeks before his death he was without this sedative of nature. The result was, his reason reeled, his judgment was dethroned, and he turned his hand upon his own life."
Mr. Newell was a man of many prominent virtues. His integrity was incorruptible. "He had an imperturbable temper. No provocation angered him. He was always cheerful, humorous, quick at repartee, and therefore companionable. He was free from low envy. There was no malice in his heart; he hated none, cherished no ill will towards any. Others' success did not disturb him; he did nothing to detract from the good estimation in which they were held. He was charitable in his judgment of others. While in the ministry he was the friend of all his clerical brethren. He was a lover of peace. No word or act of his encouraged discord or faction. He was kindly disposed towards all." He was twice married, and twice bereft of a companion. Two children remain to mourn his sad departure.
Norman Van Nostrand, Esq., died in Ridgewood, Long Island, March 13, aged 52. Many years ago he attached himself to the Society worshipping in Orchard Street, New York, under the charge of Dr. Sawyer, and he retained his interest in the faith to the last of his life. For several years he bad resided in Ridgewood, and was a constant worshipper with the Society in Williamsburgh. Wherever his labor was needed and demanded, he was ready to work. The New York Convention has often commanded his services in prominent positions, and has never had reason to regret its confidence. For many years he had been the business agent of the Ambassador, and all who have had business relations with him in that capacity, bear testimony to his urbanity and uprightness. Of resolute probity, pure life and great tenderness of heart, he was a true man, faithful to every duty, and an earnest Christian Universalist.
He died as he had lived. His last moments were peaceful. As it was the Lord's will, he was ready to go. In his early life, Universalism had been to him no speculation, but a solid reality. It was nothing less to him in his last hours.
Rev. Jessie Whitaker died in Weare, New Hampshire, March 31st, aged 84 years. Early in life he became a Free Will Baptist, in the ministry of which he was ordained in 1829. Organizing a Church of that faith in Weare, he continued its pastor for ten years. A prayerful study of the Bible led to the enlargement of his faith, and to his preaching a better doctrine than that of his church. Reported unsound, he was suspended from the ministry. He then began to read Universalist books, and he soon came to a full conviction of the truth of the doctrines they taught.
Till age and infirmity forced him to retire from the ministry, he continued to preach in Weare and vicinity. He officiated often at the marriage altar, and spoke words of comfort in cases of bereavement. Greatly respected in the place of his residence, he was often elected to offices of trust, by the votes of his fellow townsmen. He was a true friend of humanity, and kept pace with the most advanced sentiment of the country.
Mr. Whitaker had few early advantages, but by constant study and prayer he attained to an excellence and efficiency which many men with the most liberal opportunities might envy. He did not look at the truth at a distance, as many do; it touched with a potent influence every faculty, and made every moral and religious influence fruitful.
For the last two years he suffered greatly, his reason sometimes wavering. But his constant prayer was for resignation, and for strength and support till his time should come. Such strength of faith, such nearness to the Father, and such prayerful temper of mind, are seldom witnessed, as he carried to the end of his journey. In his life and death he, has left a noble Christian example.
Philo Price, Esq., died June 17, aged 70. He was a native of Norwalk, Connecticut, and by trade a printer, though a portion of his life was given to mercantile pursuits. At the age of 32 he removed to New York and established the New York "Christian Messenger." Universalism had at the time hardly a name to live in that city. Abner Kneeland had renounced the faith and become an infidel. Father Mitchell was old, and had little sympathy with the denomination. He was a Trinitarian. T. J. Sawyer had but just begun his labors with the Second Society.
Mr. Price consecrated all he had to the enterprise. The paper became a fixed fact, and did a noble work for the truth. Other papers were consolidated with it, under the name of the "Universalist Union." But though the list of subscribers was large, the revulsion of 1837 swamped Mr. Price financially, and the "Union" passed from his hands, first by assignment, and then by sale. Although Mr. Price's public connection with the cause of Universalism then ceased, he continued steadfast to its interest, and at various times he was Trustee of the Church in Williamsburg. New York.
For two or three years before his death he was a great sufferer, as well as a great care to his family. He sank gradually under a paralysis, till, at an unusual age, he came to that second childhood, which, in the case of those who have done so good a work in life, seems so peculiarly sad. Thanks for the hope, that, emancipated from the burdens of the flesh, the spirit has resumed its activity in the better land.
Rev. C. S. Hussey died in Menasha, Wisconsin, May 13th, aged 52. He was born of Quaker parentage in Vassalborough, Maine. At the age of sixteen he became interested in religious matters, and set about a preparation for the Universalist ministry, studying first under the direction of Rev. J. B. Dods, and afterwards successively with Revs. S. Cobb and F. A. Hodsdon. He was licensed by the New Hampshire Convention, in June, 1835, and ordained at Weare, New Hampshire, in 1837. After itinerating for some time, he was settled at Lyndborough, New Hampshire. Thence he removed to Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Returning to Maine he was settled in Sangerville, Canaan and Kendalls Mills. In 1856 he went West, settled successively in Warren, Illinois, Hartford, Wisconsin, Clarence, Iowa, in Warren, Illinois the second time, in Franklin Grove, Illinois, and Menasha, Wis. His health began to fail in the fall of 1867. A new church had been built in Menasha. which was dedicated March 24th. At the dedication, his installation as pastor of the Society also occurred. He preached but two or three times afterwards. His last service was at a communion season, and the exercises were deeply impressive. He was then rapidly nearing the heavenly shore, and more of his soul was visible to his people, because of the feeling that he was probably uttering his last thoughts in their hearing.
"Mr. Hussey was a man of deep and fervent piety. He aimed to make his daily life the fullest exponent of his Christian character. His moral and religious integrity was of the purest type. His Christian faith and zeal were of the apostolic kind. He had no loose way of thinking and speaking of God, Christ and the Bible. He had definite and stable convictions, and stood fairly on the broad platform of Christianity. He was gentlemanly in his bearing toward those of other denominations; was always glad to extend and to receive the genuine courtesies of the Christian and ministerial profession. His nature was deeply religious. He trusted in God as the loving Father of all spirits, and joyfully hoped for the final deliverance of all souls. The beautiful faith which he had so often commended to others, was his own complete solace and support in the trying hour. Not a doubt clouded the serenity of his soul as he went down into the valley of death. All was bright and joyful beyond."
Calmly and trustfully he fell asleep, to awake in the more perfect life of the Redeemer, in the immortal world.
Thomas A. Goddard died at his summer residence in Newton, July 16th, aged 57. A native of Boston, he received his education in its City Schools, where he graduated with honor. Choosing a life of business activity, he became widely known as one of the most successful of the Boston merchants. As his means accumulated, he was not less favorably known for his liberality and charity. His hands were always full of cares where the interests of widows and orphans, and the administration of funds appropriated to great moral, educational and philanthropic ends, sought a trustee whose integrity, intelligence and business capacity were entirely beyond question.
Mr. Goddard was not less distinguished for his Christian life, and his fidelity to his religious convictions. Early connecting himself with the School Street Church, for over thirty years he was the Superintendent of its Sunday School, during all of which period he was never late, much less absent but from the most pressing necessity. For many years one of its Deacons, he was equally faithful to that trust. He was one of the first contributors to Tufts College; and he became its Treasurer in the days of its weakness. When the Academy at Westbrook, Maine, wanted funds, he gave liberally. When it was proposed to found a first-class academy at Barre, Vermont, he gave generously. When Canton Theological school called for aid, his hand was open. He was the first to suggest and urge the founding of a first-class Academy in Massachusetts, and Dr. Dean nobly acted upon his suggestion. When the first call for money for it came, he gave freely; and when the last call was made, he gave without stint. When the Publishing House was projected, he gave it substantial encouragement. He seemed never to tire in his endeavors to promote, with his means, the interests of the religion in which he believed and rejoiced. While giving so liberally, his benevolent heart was ever seeking new opportunities for benefiting the cause he loved, and his mind suggesting new methods by which its interests might be promoted.
Few men have so well exemplified the beauty and glory of our faith, by a consecration of all he was and all he possessed to its advancement. Passing away in the ripe years of his usefulness, his life presents a noble example to the successful business men of our connection, and one every way worthy of their emulation. "Go and do likewise," is the voice that speaks to them from the tomb of this ever faithful servant of Christ.
Rev. Nathaniel Stacy, the oldest minister in the denomination, died in Columbus, Pennsylvania, April 4th, aged 89 years. A native of New Salem, Massachusetts, his early education was such as the common school of that time afforded, though he subsequently passed a few terms in the Academy, always making great progress in proportion to time and advantages. In the winter of 1799, while teaching school in Vermont and boarding with a Baptist clergyman, his mind became much exercised on religious subjects, which led him to a patient study of the Bible, and in no long time to a firm faith in the doctrine of Universal Salvation. During the autumn of the same year he met and heard Hosea Ballou, at Woodstock. After serving short apprenticeships as school-teacher, news-agent, clerk and clock-maker, he was induced by the persuasions of Mr. Ballou to begin a course of study under his direction with the view of entering the Universalist ministry. This was in October, 1802and in the day of small things for our cause; consequently Mr. Stacy's advantages were far from good. But under the force of the same persuasion that had prevailed on him to take up the study, he was "compelled" to preach his first sermon the following month, in Dana, Massachusetts. In January, 1803, he went again to Vermont and preached during the winter in Moretown, Bolton, Essex, Jericho and Montpelier. Subsequently he journeyed to Connecticut and preached in several places in that State. He was present at the adoption of the "Confession" in Winchester, New Hampshire, in 1803. Passing the next two years in teaching school and itinerating in Massachusetts and Vermont, he set out for the State of New York in 1805, holding meetings in Whitehall, Canajoharie, and in many places in the counties of Otsego, Oneida and Madison. In January, 1806, he removed to Brookfield, New York. After two years he settled in Hamilton, Madison County, where his family continued to reside for twenty years, though he himself was constantly doing the work of an evangelist over nearly the whole length and breadth of the great State of New York, making several excursions meanwhile into adjoining States. In the Spring of 1830 he removed to Columbus, Pennsylvania, where he resided, with the exception of a few comparatively brief intervals, up to the time of his deathamong these, however, should be mentioned a "visit" of five years at Ann Arbor, Michigan. In December, 1848 he concluded his "Memoirs" on which he had been engaged for several years, stating that, up to that time, he had preached more or less in ten different States, delivering 4,749 discourses; had officiated at 368 funerals and solemnized 228 marriages. Since then his active ministry has ceased, though he continued to labor as strength and opportunity afforded, down almost to the close of his life.
Father Stacy was one of the most indefatigable missionaries we ever had; and the history of his labors for forty years is in good part the history of Universalism in New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan. He suffered many and great persecutions and privations in all that timeoften of the most trying and inexcusable kindbut his great amiability and beautiful trust threw over them all a halo of triumph and glory. Troubled on every side, he was seldom distressed; often perplexed, he was never in despair; persecuted without stint and without mercy, he knew that he could not be forsaken. How cheerful was his temper, how kind his heart, how tranquil his philosophy and how unfaltering his faith, all know who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. No man ever went down into the vale of years more at peace with all the world and more happy in the abundance of his love and trust toward God, than Father Stacy. He loved the cause for which he had labored long and faithfully, with all the ardor of youth in the extremity of age. Every young minister was to him a new token that the Lord was blessing Zion; and the patriarch's heart went out to him with cordial fervor. He had no jealousies. He was not wont to harbor suspicions. He was almost destitute of ambition, in the common and worldly sense.
Nathaniel Stacy was not a great man, nor a man of much learning; but he was a man who performed a vast amount of labor in the spirit of a pure and sincere Christian, and in so thorough and acceptable a manner as to leave a blessed influence not only on his own time, but on generations following.
His last days were calm and tranquil. Peacefully he passed away to the better land, leaving only pleasant memories to his surviving friends. His aged widow still lingers, patiently waiting to follow him.
Rev. Frederick A. Hodsdon died in Belfast, Maine, August 19th, aged 64 years. Mr. Hodsdon was a native of Berwick. When quite young, the family removed to the town of Kenduskeag, where his early years were mostly spent. When but eighteen years of age, he was the subject of religious impressions, and gave himself by personal consecration to the service of his God. He became a Universalist in spirit as well as in belief, and resolved to devote his life to its ministry. His theological studies were pursued, in part, with his brother-in-law, Rev. J. B. Dods, and in part with the late Rev. S. Cobb, D.D., then the pastor at Waterville. His ordination, with that of several others, occurred at the session of the old Eastern Association, held in Livermore, June, 1827. He aided in the formation of the Maine Universalist Convention, in Lewiston, in 1828.
His first settlement was in Readfield. He preached awhile in Danvers, Massachusetts. Leaving that place, after a brief ministry, he went to Goffstown, New Hampshire, where he paved the way for the building of the two large Societies now existing in the city of Manchester. He then returned to his native place, purchased a small farm, built a house, and became the pastor of the Society in Kenduskeag. Afterwards he removed to Dexter, where his labors were crowned with signal success. Great interest was awakened; his services were crowded, and many added to the Church.
When, in 1839, the church in Belfast was to be dedicated, he was selected to deliver the sermon; and he was then unanimously invited to become the pastor of the Society, but was obliged to decline, on account of previous engagements. A few years after, he accepted a second invitation to the place. His ministry resulted in filling the house, and largely increasing the number of members, both of the Society and Church. In 1848, he resigned, and returned to his farm in Kenduskeag, and to the charge of the little Society among his kindred, and the friends of his early life. In 1849 he acted as General Agent for the Maine Universalist Missionary, Educational and Tract Societies. In 1850, he accepted a call to New Haven, Connecticut. After several years of labor in that beautiful city, compelled by failing health he resigned his charge, and returned to his farm in Kenduskeag. But he did not relinquish the work of the ministry. One season he preached half a day, every Sunday, in Orono, and the other half, in Kenduskeag, riding some fifteen miles between the services. Another season, he performed a similar duty in Dexter and Kenduskeag, where the distance is still greater. In 1858, when in consequence of many discouragements, the Society in Belfast was in a low condition, the few friends who remained steadfast turning again to Mr. Hodsdon for advice and encouragement. The house, which had been closed for some time, was again opened, and his services for a few Sundays, resulted in his re-engagement. His farm in Kenduskeag was sold, and the present home of his family was purchased. With exception of brief absences, at one time, when Chaplain of the 24th Regiment, and another when preaching to the Second Society in Portland, he continued to officiate here till 1861 when, on account of the complete prostration of his health, he was obliged forever to abandon the work to which he had devoted his life.
His sickness was long and painful. Since February, 1866, his departure had been hourly expected by his friends; yet most of the time he was able to walk out short distances and to take rides which he exceedingly enjoyed. Only the Saturday before his departure, he rode a short distance. That afternoon he was taken worse, and expired on the morning of the Wednesday following, without a struggle.
He was one of our most faithful laborers. His convictions were strong; his heart was in the cause, and his preaching was distinct, positive and earnest. A devout and praying man, he made others devout and prayerful. He loved the Bible, the Church and the Conference; and the cause of vital religion prospered under his ministry. Of commanding personal appearance, courteous in manner and Christian in spirit, he won the hearts of old and young, and made hosts of friends wherever he resided or was known. The savor of his noble life still lingers in the Churches which had enjoyed his ministrations; and, being dead, he yet speaks to the hearts of hundreds who have known and loved him.
The faith he had so long preached to others, sustained him in the day of his faltering and decline. Death had for him no terrors. His confidence in God was unwavering; and nothing but love for his family gave him any desire to live, for many months before his death.
Mr. Hodsdon leaves a wife in feeble health, four daughters, and one grandchild, to mourn the departure of one of the tenderest and most devoted of husbands and fathers.