Memorial Minute Drafted by the Committee Appointed by Bishop Manning for the Memorial Service of the Rev. George Roe Van De Water held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine March 18, 1925
The Rev. George Roe Van De Water was born in Flushing, Long Island, April 25, 1854, the son of John Titus and Ellen Fowler Van De Water, After a course of study at the Flushing Institute, he graduated from Cornell University in 1874. He was admitted as a Candidate for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Long Island on December 15, 1874, and later graduated from the General Theological Seminary. He was ordained to the Diaconate on October 1, 1876, advanced to the Priesthood on April 25, 1878, and in the same year became Rector of Christ Church, Oyster Bay. In 1879 he married Cornelia Townsend Young, of that place, who, with their son, survives him.
In 1880, having resigned as Rector of Christ Church, Oyster Bay, he accepted the rectorship of St. Luke's Church, Brooklyn, and his ministry of seven years in that parish resulted in the enlargement of the Church edifice, the building of a new rectory, and also in the establishment of St. Luke's Chapel, which later proved to be the beginning of St. Bartholomew's Parish, Brooklyn.
He was Secretary of the Parochial Missions Society for the United States in 1887 and 1888, and Chairman of the Committee on Missions and Missioners in 1889. He was received into the Diocese of New York from the Diocese of Long Island on December 19, 1887, having been elected to the rectorship of St. Andrew's Church, Harlem. During the thirty-two years of his service in that parish the Church debt was reduced from $225,000 to $85,000.
In 1920 he resigned as Rector of St. Andrew's Church, and entered upon his new duties as Rector of the Church of the Beloved Disciple, in East 89th Street. Before he was stricken with a fatal illness, arrangements had been made for the union of that parish with the Church of the Heavenly Rest, with the understanding that on May 1st., 1925, coincident with the temporary transfer of the congregation of the latter church to the Church of the Beloved Disciple, he was to become Rector-emeritus of the consolidated parish, and that the united congregation was to worship at the Church of the Beloved Disciple until the completion of the new edifice at Fifth Avenue and 90th Street.
Dr. Van De Water, as Chaplain of the 71st Regiment in the war with Spain, made a notable record by the courage and efficiency with which he fulfilled his duties on the firing line in the Cuban campaign, and wherever they called him.
He was Chaplain of Columbia University from 1892 to 1905, for six years a Trustee of Cornell University, for many years a Vice President of the New York Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society, for a year the President of the New York Churchman's Association, and sometime Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Masons in the State of New York. He was also a member of the Holland and St. Nicholas Societies, the Century Association, the Union League Club, and the Military Order of Foreign Wars. He wrote a history of the Christian Church, a history of the New York Forces in the War with Spain, Life and Times of St. Paul (Lectures), Masonic Teaching of Bible Truth, compiled and edited a Manual of Church Missions, and a Manual of Church Prayer.
On the morning of Sunday, March 15th, our dear brother's life on earth came to a close at the rectory of the Church of the Beloved Disciple. The funeral service was conducted by Bishop Manning, in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, on Wednesday, March 18th. Bishop Shipman read the opening sentences. The Rev. John Acworth read the Lesson. The musical part of the service was rendered by the Cathedral Choir. The honorary pallbearers were the Vestrymen of the Churches of the Beloved Disciple, the Heavenly Rest, St. Andrew's, and St. Luke's, Brooklyn. The chief mourners occupied seats in the Choir near the flag-draped bier. The floral tributes were choice and abundant. Most of the large number of clergy present were vested. The congregation, which included representatives from many organizations, filled the Crossing. The committal service was said at the grave in Young's Memorial Cemetery, Oyster Bay, on the same day, by the Rev. Henry. V. B. Darlington, D.D., and the Rev. John Acworth.
Before his last illness Dr. Van De Water, though seventy years of age, had the appearance of a man still in the prime of life. His face had not begun to lose its hue of health. Strength and vigor seemed still at home in every movement of his robust frame. It was always good to look at him, to hear the rich tones of his voice, to feel the nearness of his frank and earnest spirit. To know him well was to recognize in him a pattern of manhood worthy to be a standard bearer of the Christian faith. His life was graced with qualities for his high calling such as the Bishop has named: a father's tenderness, a leader's courage, a prophet's inspiration, a teacher's knowledge, a Saviour's love.
We mourn his loss and sympathize with his bereaved family, and with all who share in the sense of what it means to lose him from the fellowship of the hand clasp and the spoken word. But we love to think that he has made full proof of his ministry whenever and wherever the day of opportunity has dawned for it. We love also to think that his life still keeps company with our own in our cherished memories of him.