Pastors' Memoirs

William Ridgeway Petre, 1906-1994

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William Ridgeway Petre was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to John C. and Anna Ridgeway Petre on December 15,1906. His father and grandfather had served as Methodist ministers. He was the husband of Helen E. Hostetler Petre. They marked their 63rd wedding anniversary in August 1994. Petre, a retired United Methodist minister and Navy chaplain, spent the last eight years of his life in Willow Street, Pennsylvania. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A.) and Lancaster Theological Seminary (B.D.), Petre received a Master of Sacred Theology degree from Temple University School of Theology.

While in active ministry for 57 years, he served parishes in Millersville, Mount Joy, Hopewell, Hibernia and Philadelphia, Pa. He was ordained an elder in 1930 and served as a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania conference of the United Methodist Church for 19 years. Petre served 21 years as a Navy chaplain during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He retired from the Navy in 1967.

In 1966 he became a member of the Virginia conference of the United Methodist Church and served at Francis Asbury United Methodist Church in Virginia Beach until his retirement from the Virginia conference in 1970. While in retirement he distinguished himself as the associate pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church, Norfolk, Va., (1979-83) until moving to Lancaster, Pa. in 1986.

After an illness of five weeks, Petre entered his eternal rest on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1994. William Ridgeway Petre was a gentle man whose spirit was infectious and contagious. He had a deep sense of the presence of God. One of his favorite poems serves as metaphor and memory of his long, active and abundantly satisfying life.

Christmas in Heaven
(In loving memory of all who are spending their first Christmas in Heaven)
Author Unknown

I've had my first Christmas in Heaven:
a glorious, wonderful day!
I stood with the saints of all the ages,
Who found Christ the Truth and the Way.
So dear ones on earth, here's my greeting:
Look up til the Day Star appears,
And Oh, what a Christmas awaits us,
Beyond all our partings and tears!

- H. Randolph Arrington 



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