Pastors' Memoirs

Walter Melancthon Lockett Jr., 1908 – 2005

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 Walter Lockett will not be present this annual conference to again give the opening prayer.

   On May 11, 2005, he transferred to the church triumphant after having attended 71 consecutive annual conferences. His number one place on the conference’s chronological list of preachers now passes on.

   Walter Melancthon Lockett Jr. was born in Comanche, Oklahoma, on Aug. 19, 1908, the eldest of nine children of Walter M. and Susan Alberta Patty Lockett. Educated in the public schools of Comanche and Duncan, he received the B.A. degree from what is now the University of Central Oklahoma in 1928. As president of his college YMCA, he attended the Student Volunteer Movement convention in Detroit during the 1927 Christmas holidays. There he caught a vision of the world church from such outstanding leaders as John R. Mott, Robert E. Speer and Reinhold Niebuhr that helped prepare him for ministry.

  After two years of teaching in Oklahoma, he entered Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois, in June 1930. Before the close of the summer quarter, he became convinced that he belonged in the ministry. After receiving the Master of Divinity degree in 1933, he became pastor of Community Church in Arlington, where he preached his first sermon on June 11, 1933. He continued to serve Community for the next 11 years.

  On Oct. 6, 1933, he was admitted on trial (probation) in the old Baltimore Conference by Bishop W.F. McMurry. In 1935, he was received into full connection and ordained deacon by Bishop Edwin D. Mouzon. Bishop Arthur J. Moore ordained him elder on Oct. 10, 1937. In addition to Community Church, he served seven other churches: Larchmont, Norfolk (1944-49); Main Street, Danville (1949-52); Asbury Memorial, Harrisonburg (1952-57); First, Hopewell (1957-61); First, Martinsville (1961-65); Graham Road, Falls Church (1965-70); and Centenary, Lynchburg (1970-74). Following retirement on June 14, 1974, he became Director of Homebound Ministries for Greene Memorial Church, Roanoke, serving in that capacity for 25 years. In appreciation for his exceptional retirement ministry, Greene Memorial honored him by making him pastor emeritus.

   His conference responsibilities included: District Missionary Secretary (1940-54); Conference Missionary Secretary (1954-61); Chairman, Salary Supplementation Committee, Conference Board of Missions (1961-68); Member of the Board of Pensions (1968-74); Trustee, Ferrum College (1958-65); President, Virginia Conference Fellowship (1973-77); Chairman, Committee on Memoirs (1976-80).

  On Oct. 11, 1933, he married Helen Eleanor Booth of Oklahoma City. Two children were born of that union: Walter Gaylord Lockett, Seaford, Virginia, and Caroline Lockett Cherry, Wayne, Pennsylvania. There are four grandchildren. Helen died on May 4, 1968. On Dec. 7, 1969, he married Virginia Stone Henry whom he had known as district and Virginia Conference Director of Youth Work.

During their years of retirement, Walter and Virginia traveled in Europe, Africa, South America, China, and the South Pacific. They both shared a love for missions and a chief joy was to give slide programs on their travels in churches, mission study groups, and retirement homes.

  Throughout his ministry Walter kept a balance among three principal areas of responsibility: preaching, pastoral visitation, and administration. He was concerned that the redeeming love of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, help people to accept one another in spite of differences of race, culture, or nationality.

   Walter was strong physically, mentally, and spiritually. He was a true follower of John Wesley and a model for the Christian disciplines characteristic of the noble tradition he so completely embraced: frugal and generous; absolute honesty and selfless; he brought a big heart and strong mind to the practice of ministry. His tremendous energy was only matched by his faithfulness all the way to the end of his 96 years.

  His body was donated for medical education and scientific study. A memorial service was held at Greene Memorial Church on Sunday, May 29, 2005, with Michael Lyle, Thomas Joyce, Douglas Newman and Bernard Via officiating.

These verses by the Apostle Paul which he considered the most significant passage in the Bible, expressed his commitment and his assurance:

"For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." — Romans 8:38-39

— Rev. Walter M. Lockett Jr.

— Rev. Bernard S. Via Jr.



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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