Pastors' Memoirs

Reginald Wainwright Vanderberry, 1900-1995

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"I hereby tender my resignation... My reason for leaving is based mainly on my position requiring Sunday work, which I do not feel disposed to do. It is not only against my religious creed but also against my personal conscience." So said Reg Vanderberry at the age of 18 upon resigning from his first job. It was a forerunner of the pattern that would be a part of his life for the next 77 years until the Lord called him home.

Reginald W. Vanderberry was born January 26,1900, in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of James Henry Vanderberry and Arvilla Davis Vanderberry. In 1921, he married Mary Estelle Whitehurst who shared his life in a marvelous way until her death in 1970. To this union were born a daughter and two sons - Mary Louise Morris of Wilmington, N.C.; Reginald William of Charlottesville, Va.; and James Greer of Winston Salem, N.C. He is survived by his children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Reg finished Maury High School, Norfolk in 1917, worked for four years before entering Randolph-Macon College in 1921, graduating in 1925. Having previously been licensed to preach in 1922, he now enrolled in the General Board of Education Correspondence School of The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, finishing in 1929. He had already entered the Virginia conference on trial in 1925, and was received in full connection in 1928, continuing in active service until his retirement in 1967. During this time he served the following appointments: Salisbury Circuit executive secretary, Epworth League; director of youth work; extension secretary, Board of Education; Market Street Church, Winchester; Hopewell; Lawrenceville; Laurel Hill; Ferebee-Halstead; Graham Road; Farmville; Asbury, Richmond; administrator, Roanoke Methodist Home; and following retirement, one year at Irvington from 1967-1968.

For the first 22 years of his retirement he resided at Topping, Virginia. Having been an active member of the Masonic Order, Reg moved into the Masonic Home, Richmond, Virginia, in 1989. He died there on February 13,1995. A service of death and resurrection was held at Lower United Methodist Church, Hartfield, Va. It was conducted by the pastor, Robert L. Morris, Jr., and the district superintendent, Amos S. Rideout, Jr. It was most appropriate that the service be held in that place where Reg had been named pastor emeritus. Interment was in Lower Church Cemetery.

The ties of this writer with Reginald W. Vanderberry became very close in our working together with the Conference Brotherhood, of which he was secretary-treasurer for more than 50 years. Doing what was the right thing led him to lead in changing the name to Virginia Conference Fellowship. His was the kind of religion that was a deep and personal thing that sometimes caused differences with those he served. No one need ever question where he stood on moral or social issues. You always found him on the side of love, justice and right. The hymn, "I Want A Principle Within," sung by all the people at the celebration of his life, and the message of the pastor, "A Man Of The Word," spoke clearly of the life of Reginald Wainwright Vanderberry. This writer is grateful for having the privilege of knowing and working with him.

- George S. Lightner



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