In Memoriam: Milton McCormick Gatch

Milton McCormick Gatch, Union Professor, Dean and Provost, and Library Director, Dies at 90

Categories: Union News

“Words cannot sum up how crucial his commitment and work for Union has been,” said the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President of the Seminary, and Johnston Family Professor for Religion and Democracy.  “Mac Gatch was and had continued to be a lively and essential leadership presence at Union across many decides in his roles as Professor, Dean, and Provost, and his position of Director of Burke Library from which he retired in l998.”

He died on February 21 at his home in New York City.  Read his full obituary here.

A graduate of Haverford College, the Episcopal Theological School (now EDS at Union) and Yale University, Gatch came to Union in 1978 as Professor of Church History and Academic Dean.  He was Professor of Church History from 1978-1998, and served as Dean and later Provost from 1978 to1990.  In 1991 he became Director of the Burke Library.  He retired in 1998 and the Seminary’s Board of Trustees created him Emeritus in all his capacities.

An ordained Episcopal Priest, Gatch was a sage father figure and thoughtful advisor to anyone seeking his counsel, but especially to Anglican and Episcopalian students at Union.

“The gentle, kind and wise spirit that was Dean Gatch will be missed by so many, said the Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union, and Bill and Judith Moyers Professor in Theology.  “When I came to Union in 1979, one of the first persons I met was Dean Gatch.  He was the academic Dean during my time as both an MDIV and Ph.D. student. Yet he was more than simply an Academic Dean. He served informally as the Dean to many of us who were Episcopal students at Union.  With his genteel manner, he took special care of us. I frequented his office with Episcopal questions, which he always answered with patience and kindness. I remember when I failed the Theology section on the GOE’s, Dean Gatch immediately went to bat for me with my Bishop and provided me with the guidance necessary to show my competency in this area.

“He was a kind and giving man then and remained so when I returned to Union as Dean of EDS at Union 40 years later,” Douglas continued.  “Though he had long been retired, he was one of the first to offer congratulations and support. He and I met for lunch and enjoyed regular phone conversations. I last spoke with him in the fall when we both vowed to meet for lunch after the Christmas holidays. We did not have that lunch.  I for sure will miss him;  but I am grateful to have been blessed by his presence on my journey.

“He was much loved and greatly admired by all,” concluded Serene Jones.  “We grieve the passing of a good friend and faithful colleague.”