Oldest Bishop Dies at 101

Episcopal News Service. August 25, 1976 [76290]

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The oldest bishop of the Episcopal Church has died just a few weeks short of his 102nd birthday.

The Rt. Rev. Robert Burton Gooden died in California where he had served a ministry that began in a mission in Ventura in 1904. He retired officially in 1947 as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles but continued to assist the bishops of the diocese until very recently. He was born September 18, 1874.

Upon hearing of the death, the Rt. Rev. John M. Allin, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, said: "Through the long and active ministry of Bishop Gooden, God has richly blessed the Episcopal Church in particular and Christianity in general. His life touched the life of this Church in many ways, and for this we give hearty thanks. I will indeed miss him as a cheerful friend and worthy example."

A native of England, Bishop Gooden earned degrees from Trinity College and Berkeley Divinity School, both of which later honored him with doctoral degrees as did the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. He served as a rector, dean of the cathedral, and a headmaster of Harvard School in Los Angeles before being consecrated suffragan bishop in 1930.

Two of his sons -- the Rt. Rev. Reginald Heber Gooden and the Rev. Robert B. Gooden Jr. -- both became priests. The former served as missionary Bishop of Panama and the Canal Zone and, most recently, as Assistant and then Acting Bishop of Louisiana.

In the Journal of the 1973 General Convention, it is recorded that Bishop Gooden addressed the House of Bishops at the opening session and the minute in the Journal notes: "The 99-year-old Bishop's address was a moment of grace for the House."