Harper, Robert Henry


September 20, 1882 - May 10, 1965
Dr. Robert Henry Harper was born Sept. 20, 1882 in Columbia, La. and slipped away to his eternal resting place May 10, 1965 in Lafayette, La. He was the son of Rev. Jacob Dick Harper, who served in the Louisiana Conference for over fifty years, and Virginia Fox Harper. His paternal grandparents, along with others, migrated to Louisiana prior to the War Between the States from Shelby County, Alabama and settled near Bernice, Louisiana where they built the Alabama Church, which is still in existence on the Bernice Charge.
Dr. Harper was married March 29, 1905 to Edna Skipwith who preceded him in death in 1954 after nearly fifty years as a minister’s wife. He is survived by one son, Robert E. Harper, Washington, D.C., a grandson, Robert Skipwith Harper also of Washington, D.C., and a sister, Mrs. Clara Woolfolk who lived with him and lovingly cared for him in his last days. Dr. and Mrs. Harper’s first child Henry Skipwith Harper died in infancy.
Dr. Harper was an honor graduate from Centenary College in 1905 where he won 5 medals for oratory and debate. Centenary College later conferred an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree upon him. He served up and down our State and among his pastorates were First Church, New Orleans, First Church, Baton Rouge, First Church, Lafayette, First Church, Lake Charles, Parker Memorial, New Orleans, Natchi-toches, Mansfield and Louisiana Memorial in Opelousas. He was also Presiding Elder of the New Orleans District and District Superintendent of the Alexandria District He also served as Editor of the New Orleans Advocate for two years and was Conference Secretary for 26 years. After retirement he served Golden Meadow for three years. He was an outstanding orator and pulpit man and a very 1 e a r n e d Church Historian.
Dr. Harper’s fine book Louisiana Methodism” has served the Conference for a number of years as an authoritative historical refer-ence book and has enjoyed wide spread popularity over the entire church. He also wrote “In the Land of New Acadia” which is a story of French Mission work in Louisiana. For twenty six years he wrote weekly sermons entitled “6 Inch Sermons” published by the Community Newspaper Service of Franfurt, Ky. and his last sermon, published just prior to his death, was entitled simply “Love.”
He was an Active Mason having served as Grand Prelate of the Knights Templar of Louisiana and also of the United States. He served as Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, F. and A. M. for five years.
After retirement he made his home with his sister, Mrs. Clara Woolfolk, in Lafayette. Tho’ physically inactive he was mentally alert to the last He loved his church and was vitally interested in all of Its activities. His last trip out of town was to the District Conference in Golden Meadow in early December where he asw the lovely new sanctuary as a “dream come true.”
Funeral service was conducted in the Louisiana Memorial Church in Opelousas by Bishop Aubrey G. Walton assisted by Rev. A. Jerome Cain, Rev. Fred S. Flurry, Rev. R. R. Braton and the pastor, Rev. J. C. Skinner.
Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 212-213, 1965 by A. Jerome Cain.

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