Sensintaffar, James Claire


- January 9, 1952
Death brought to a swift and sudden ending the life of one of God’s most useful, yet most humble servants in the passing of Rev. James C. Sensintaffar. At the very height of his usefulness and at the comparatively young age of forty-five, the angel of death called and carried away the spirit of this consecrated servant of the Master.
Having apparently made satisfactory recovery from an attack some two months prior to his passing, his sudden and fatal seizure came quite unexpectedly. He had attended a Board of Stewards meeting the night before and retired in good spirits and apparently feeling quite well. He became ill about 1 a. m. and was moved to Pardue-Speer Clinic, where death came at 9 a. m. Wednesday, January 9, 1952. His body was laid to rest in the cemetery at Harrisonburg, Louisiana, with the Rev. J. Henry Bowdon, his District Superintendent, in charge of services.
Brother Jim, as he was affectionately known on the charges he served, was born in Missouri but moved to Louisiana with his parents while still quite young. The family settled in De Ridder and that was home to him. He graduated from Centenary College and took his theological training at Duke University, getting a degree from that institution also. His pastorates were Mansfield, Oakdale, Montrose, Jonesville, Ferriday and Vivian. While at Vivian, a beautiful new sanctuary was erected. Brother Jim was known up and down the conference for his work with young people and the teaching he did in the many standard training schools where he was called upon to serve.
He was possessed of an unusually sharp wit, a forthright manner of speech, and a conviction backed by courage that made him enter wholeheartedly and fearlessly upon any undertaking he believed right and worthy. He was frank almost to a fault, yet all who knew him respected and admired his fair-mindedness.
Perhaps a few paragraphs lifted from the columns of the local paper of the charge he last
served, “Vivian’s Caddo Citizen,” better express the feeling most of us had for him than your writer could ever put into words— “Gone is Brother Jim the man, subject to human frailties, the body wracked with pain, but there lives Brother Jim, the symbol, with a meaning and significance that stands out in bold relief more distinct and brilliant than ever. He himself stood as an example to his fellow man that was more powerful than a thousand sermons.
“He was kind, generous, and understanding in every sense of the word, to all who brushed his path, not because of a sense of duty but because his whole being demanded it. He was kind and generous and understanding because his soul vibrated to the universal rhythm of giving all of himself to all men as the flowers that permeate their fragrance into the air, asking all who are near to partake of it; as the trees in the orchards give fruit, beckoning all to come and enjoy; as the cool spring that ripples among the rocks beckons the weary traveler to kneel and drink.
“Brother Jim was one of ‘God’s gentlemen.’ He had dedicated his life to the betterment of his fellow man; he knew when still a youth that this was what he wanted to do more than anything in this world. . . to help his fellow man and preach the word of God.
“He came here to us a total stranger, just another preacher, another man with all the human frailties with which we are all endowed. Yet in a few short years, he became a part of us, nay, much more than that . .a brother . . . a friend . . . a father . . . a symbol of goodness . . . an inspiration to ‘make us better human beings and this world a better world.
“He died a comparatively poor man, when we judge in the material sense of the word, but in the greater and much finer sense he departed from his world a man of great wealth. To us he died a very rich man.... rich in good deeds, rich in the feeling he helped others to live better and happier, rich in service to his people, rich in the love and admiration that other people had for him.”
He was married to Rosa Geraldine Snider of Jonesville, La., in 1942, and two daughters, Rhetta, 5, and Rosa Ann, 3 months, came to bless this home. These, along with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Sensintaffar of De Ridder, three sisters and one brother, survive.
“I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead. He is just away.
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land.
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be since he lingers there.
And you—O you, who the wildest yearn
For the old time step, and the glad return—
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here.
Think of him still as the same, I say,
He is not dead—He is just away!”
—James Whitcomb Riley.
Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 167-169, 1952 by Jerome Cain.

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