Rev. Oscar E. Denniston, founder of the Bradley Memorial Church, Oak Bluffs, and pastor for the past forty years died at Martha's Vineyard Hospital early Tuesday morning, following a brief confinement which came at the end of some nine years of gradually failing health. He would have been 67 years of age on April 5. He had devoted his life to religious teaching.

Mr. Denniston was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and was educated in that city. Early in life he became drawn to mission work, and was associated with a seaman's mission in Kingston. He was a giant of a man and his physical strength was necessary in the work which he had to do, for he was called upon to safeguard his flock physically as well as spiritually.

To Kingston came the late Madison Edwards, chaplain of the Seaman's Bethel at Vineyard Haven and, while vacationing there, he became ill. Mr. Denniston, a young man, met the chaplain at the mission, and it was he who cared for Mr. Edwards and saw that everything was supplied for his comfort.


Chaplain Edwards Sent for Him


On his return to the Vineyard Chaplain Edwards pondered the state of the struggling little colored church in Oak Bluffs, and at length, seeing what he believed was an opportunity, he sent for Mr. Denniston, who came to the Vineyard.

Out of his coming and taking up church work here developed a religious organization that has become an important Island institution. Mr. Den­niston obtained an old motion picture theater and succeeded in converting it into a church structure. His congregation increased, particularly in summer, when packed auditoriums have been the rule.

For forty years Mr. Denniston continued his work in this parish, never drawing a cent of guaranteed salary, yet, as he often smilingly said—"always receiving everything necessary for his comfort and well being". However that may be, the side of his life that he kept chiefly to himself would have revealed many sacrifices for the good of others. His great heart was filled with pity for those who were in need, and he did not shrink from going without himself, that he might provide something for those less fortunate. His home lacked many conveniences, because he felt that he could do without them and in this manner he might have more to bestow on others.

In winter and summer, in fair weather and foul, he walked the streets, calling on his parishioners and doing whatever he could to make life brighter for them. His standing among the Island clergy, regardless of faith, was enviable; everyone admired and trusted Mr. Denniston. "A Christian gentleman," was the characterization given by one of the priests of the Roman Catholic parish, and this opinion was widely shared. "A mighty factor on the side of law and order," once said a police officer.

On a visit to his former home in 1907, Mr. Denniston went through the destructive earthquake which destroyed many lives and much property. He escaped into a street as buildings fell around him.


Iron Will Kept Him Active


Nine years ago Mr. Denniston suffered a serious illness from which he never fully recovered. At that time he said that he hoped for a return of his strength and ability to work. He felt that his task was incomplete. Certain objectives which he had set for himself and his church had not been gained and he dreaded to think of leaving this work unfinished. He had continued to work as he wished, but his failing strength had long been apparent to those who knew him best and only his iron will kept him active.

Always keenly awake to civic du­ties and activities which might affect the public as a whole, Mr. Denniston missed no town meetings or similar gatherings, nor did he hesitate to speak his mind. Last month, in the annual town meeting, he said with passion: "You cannot conceal evil and get away with it! Sooner or later, if you try it, the concealing element will be torn away and we will be revealed as we are!" This was in answer to an argument on the floor of the meeting, and it was typical of the character of this brave-spirited clergyman.

He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Medora Denniston of Oak Bluffs, and by six children. A sister, Mrs. Adelaide Parks of Boston, also survives him, and other more distant relatives re­side outside of the country.

One of the most Impressive fruits of Mr. Denniston's career is the record of his children, almost all of whom had outstanding school and college careers. Madison Edwards Denniston is in the drug business in Boston; Miss Olive N. L. Denniston took B.A. and Ed.M. degrees at Boston University and is now professor of English and Psychology at Barber-Scotia College in Concord, N. C., and a Ph.D. candidate; Miss Amy J. Denniston, also holder of B.A. and M.A. degrees from B.U., is head of the teachers' training department at Florida Normal School in St. Augustine; Dean K. Denniston took his B.A., B.S. and Ed. M. degrees at B. U. and is principal of a high school in Cordele, Ga. Baron deC. Denniston has a B.S. from B. U. and is in his senior year at Howard University Medical School in Washington; and Gerald G. Denniston Is a student in the College of Business Administration at B. U.

The funeral service this afternoon at 1:30 at Bradley Memorial Church will be conducted by pastors of all Protestant churches of the Island. Rev. Willard F. Johnson, of Vineyard Haven, is to preside. Rev. John C. Vernon, Chaplain Austin Tower of the Boston Seaman's Friend Society, both of Vineyard Haven, Rev. J. 0. Esk­ridge, Rev. John W. Annas, of Edgartown, and Dr. Chester L. Glenn, will also speak, Dr. Glenn representing the board of selectmen of Oak Bluffs. Rev. Isaac Higginbotham, D.D., general secretary of the Massachusetts Baptist Convention, will also be present, and will have a part In the service. Interment will be in Oak Grove Cemetery, Oak Bluffs.

During the service, all business in Oak Bluffs will be suspended.


Editorial: Rev. 0. E. Denniston


One does not have to look far away to find things to be proud Of. The career of Rev. Oscar E. Denniston, who came to Martha's Vineyard from the island of Jamaica and some forty years ago established the Bradley Memorial Church at Oak Bluffs, has left a bright mark in our own community. His heroism was of a modest kind. his contribution lay in sincerity of purpose, faith, and staunchness through the years, all plain, unspectacular things, but who, when all is said and done, can give more?

Islanders should be proud that he lived and worked here. He helped bring into reality in his generation the conception of America as a land of opportunity, brotherhood and democracy, not by coming here and getting rich, hut by coming to build a church. A chance friendship with Madison Edwards, beloved chaplain of the Seaman's Bethel at Vineyard Haven, induced him to leave seamen's mission work at Kingston, Jamaica, for what was to become his charge on the Vineyard.

A few years ago he said of himself and his family, “We have few of the luxuries of life, but I make no apologies for the simplicity of my home. I could have added much to the comfort of myself and family, but I have been trying to build a church. I have built it with the help of God and the men whom He influenced."

Once, briefly, Mr. Denniston was a correspondent for the Gazette. ; In 1907 he was on a visit to his former home in Kingston when the earthquake of that year brought buildings tumbling about him. He escaped from the catastrophe and wrote to the Gazette a direct report of the experience.

Much about Mr. Denniston's character can be read in the fact that among his children are a professor of English and psychology, the head of a normal school department, a high school principal, a medical student, and a student in business administration. Up to last summer four of his children had won eight college degrees. There is something about this record that seems distinctively American, and Mr. Denniston lived to see the proof of the things he stood for.

From the place he had made for himself he is certain to be missed.