Edward P. Rementer, 79, Episcopal church rector

November 13, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Rev. Edward Palmer Rementer, a former rector of Grace and St. Peter's Episcopal Church who in retirement was an interim rector at several churches, died Friday of a heart attack at Mercy Medical Center. He was 79.

Father Rementer went to Grace and St. Peter's, one of the oldest and largest Episcopal churches in the city, as a pastoral assistant in 1966. He was named associate rector in 1968 and its ninth rector in 1975.

He was instrumental in beginning the restoration of the church at Park Avenue and Monument Street, which dates to 1852, and its rectory and parish house.

FOR THE RECORD - The Rev. Edward P. Rementer: A photo caption accompanying an obituary in yesterday's editions of The Sun for the Rev. Edward P. Rementer incorrectly stated his years at Grace and St. Peter's Episcopal Church. He was rector at the church from 1975 to 1987. He began his career there as a pastoral assistant in 1966 and was named associate rector in 1968. The Sun regrets the error.

He re-established a Sunday School and increased support for Grace and St. Peter's School, whose pupils range from 3-year-olds to fifth-graders. He also created the Wednesday Night Group of parishioners who met for Mass and dinner, and an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter.

Much of his work centered on the Chinese members of the church. He got permission to use the Diocese of Hong Kong's bilingual liturgy for Sunday afternoon services, which were in Cantonese.

Father Rementer brought energy and organizational skills to a church that was beginning to show a decline in membership.

"He used to say, `This isn't a hotel for saints. It's a hospital for sinners,'" said the Rev. Frederick S. Thomas, who had been Father Rementer's assistant and succeeded him as rector in 1987.

"He could be starchy and somewhat formal, but he understood the essence and importance of simple things. He realized his mission was to start church on time, say prayers, visit the sick, treat all folks the same way and get people to work together."

Once, when a longtime parishioner threatened to withhold an annual gift, he remained unmoved. "`Don't wave your checkbook at me,' he told the man," Father Thomas said. "You couldn't buy him. He wasn't for sale."

After retiring in 1987, Father Rementer served as interim rector of Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Walbrook until 1993, then until 1999 was at St. Peter the Apostle Episcopal Church in Southwest Baltimore.

Born in Chester, Pa., and raised in Prospect Park, Pa., he enlisted in the Army during World War II after graduating from high school. He served in the Quartermaster Corps in the Persian Gulf.

He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Hobart College in 1952 and a divinity degree from Philadelphia Divinity School. He was ordained as a priest in 1954. He first worked in Philadelphia.

Father Rementer collected and operated Marklin electric trains in his Park Avenue residence. He also enjoyed travel and attending the opera and symphony.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Grace and St. Peter's.

He is survived by a sister, Margaret Ann Reese of Berwyn, Pa., and his companion of 20 years, Sidney P. Hayward.

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