James Purdy, 99

The Rev. Canon James Elliott Purdy, 99, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of New Jersey for 74 years, died Sunday, Jan. 6, at the Evergreens, a continuing care community in Moorestown. Canon Purdy formally retired in 1984 after serving as rector of Grace Church in Merchantville for 18 years. He was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Eloise Hughes Purdy, in 2009; his brother, Edward; his sister, Frances Irene Harris Purdy; and his parents, the Reverend Charles Edwin Purdy, M.D., and Mary Frances Ann Ginn. Canon Purdy is survived by his son, the Reverend James Hughes Purdy (Emma Sarosdy Purdy); granddaughters Emma Purdy Coyle (John) and Katherine Purdy Spung (Michael); a great-granddaughter; and his brother, Samuel Edwin Purdy.

Canon Purdy graduated from Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Quebec, and the General Theological Seminary, New York City. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in the Episcopal Church in 1938 and served as the rector of congregations in Scranton, PA, and Trenton, Camden, Bordentown and Merchantville.  

Through five decades, Canon Purdy was a member and chair of many committees in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey, including the Standing Committee, the Diocesan Foundation, the Commission on Ministry, the Board of Examining Chaplains and the departments of Christian Social Relations and Religious Education. He served as Army chaplain at Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base; dean of the Boys’ Summer Conference; dean of the Burlington and Camden convocations; president of Clericus; deputy to Provincial Synod; president of the Ecumenical Religious Leaders Conference of New Jersey; chaplain of the Niagara Fire Department in Merchantville; member and president of the Rotary Clubs in Bordentown and Pennsauken and the Lions Club in Trenton. He was seated as an honorary canon of Trinity Cathedral, Trenton, in 1958 and received the Diocesan Medal of Honor in 1962. Prior to, and at the time of, his death, Canon Purdy was senior priest in the diocese.

The Burial Office is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Episcopal Chapel at The Evergreens, 309 Bridgeboro Road. A private interment will be held in Greenwood Cemetery, Trenton.


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Last modified on 09/24/2018

Published in Milestones
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