Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Maurice DeWitt Robertson, September 8, 1990

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: Today is Saturday September the eighth, nineteen-and-ninety. I am Jean Becker, a member of Second Presbyterian Church.

Segment Synopsis: Maurice Robertson is introduced. He talks about growing up in Fostoria, Ohio, his father's various occupations, his mother's work during World War II, and working with his grandfather in a sawmill during his summer vacations.

Keywords: Brothers; Coopers; Cutting timber; Engineering; Fathers; Fostoria Glass Company; Fruit delivery; Grandparents; Great Depression; Jessie Boday; Jobs; Melvin Sherman Robertson; Mothers; Parents; Railroads; Sawmills; Streetcars; Working; World War II

Subjects: Childhood and youth; Depressions--1929; Families.; Family histories.; Family life; Family--history; Fostoria (Ohio); World War, 1939-1945--Women

GPS: Fostoria (Ohio)
Map Coordinates: 41.159167, -83.415278
00:06:55 - Education

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about your, um, education. I assume you went to school in Fostoria.

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about his early education in Fostoria, Ohio. He talks about working in various places for the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression before attending Denver Bible College. He talks about his decision to attend Gordon College. He talks about enlisting as an Army chaplain during World War II and his decision to attend Princeton Theological Seminary.

Keywords: Accomplishments; Applications; Army chaplaincy; Basketball; Bible school; California; Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC); College; College graduates; Denver Bible College; Enlistment; Gordon College; Great Depression; High school; Jobs; Machinists; Marine Corps; Ministry; Moving; Presbyterian; Princeton Theological Seminary; Print shops; Quality of education; Schools; Spokane (Wash.); Tuition; World War II

Subjects: Christian education.; Clergy; College students; Depressions--1929; Education, Higher; Fostoria (Ohio); Religion; World War, 1939-1945.

GPS: Fostoria (Ohio)
Map Coordinates: 41.159167, -83.415278
00:19:15 - Wife / reasons for joining the ministry

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Partial Transcript: Had you met Barbara at that time?

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about meeting his future wife in Princeton and discusses when they got married. He talks about his assignments as a pastor in New York and why he was hesitant to work in Queens. He talks about the factors in his life that may have influenced his decision to join the ministry and talks about why he chose to become a Presbyterian.

Keywords: Barbara Robertson; Bible class; Chevy Chase (Md.); Church life; Deacons; Denominations; Devotion; Division; Fathers; First Presbyterian Church; History majors; Married; Ministers' wives; Ministry; Mothers; Old First Church; Pastorate; Presbyterian; Princeton (N.J.); Queens (New York, N.Y.); Sextons; Westminster Choir College

Subjects: Clergy; Families.; Family life; Marriage; Presbyterian Church; Religion; Troy (N.Y.)

GPS: Troy (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 42.731667, -73.6925
00:25:17 - Experiences as a pastor in New York

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Partial Transcript: I believe we were in Queens, New York already and, uh...

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks more about his time as a pastor in New York, and talks about the advice his mentor, Henry Seymour Brown, gave him. He talks about his experiences at a predominantly German church.

Keywords: Advice; Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.); Chaplains; German; Henry Seymour Brown; Howard Jurgen; Mentors; Oakwood Avenue Presbyterian Church; Old First Church; Pastors; Princeton Seminary Choir; Senate executives; Troy (N.Y.)

Subjects: Church membership; Churches; Clergy; Presbyterian Church; Queens (New York, N.Y.); Religion

GPS: Queens (New York, N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.75, -73.866667
00:32:16 - Experiences as a pastor in Cumberland, Maryland

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Partial Transcript: And then did you go to Cumberland--

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about why he decided to become the pastor at a church in Cumberland, Maryland. He talks about some of the projects that were started during his time there, including Meals on Wheels. He talks about what his children were doing at the time.

Keywords: Baltimore (Md.); College; Funding; Henry Seymour Brown; Interim pastors; Meals on Wheels; Needs; Pastors

Subjects: Change; Children.; Christian education.; Church management.; Clergy; Cumberland (Md.); Presbyterian Church

GPS: Cumberland (Md.)
Map Coordinates: 39.647778, -78.762778
00:37:33 - Coming to Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: You came here in, um, September of 1966, right?

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about meeting people from Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky and talks about his impressions of the church. He talks about the people involved in the committee that selected him as the new pastor.

Keywords: Coleman Smith; Guest ministers; Impressions; Involvement; Jim Angell; Joe Saunders; Ministers; Pastor-seeking committee; Reverend Dr. James W. Angell; Thornton Helm; Tom Martin; Wes Garrigus

Subjects: Change; Church committees.; Church management.; Churches--Kentucky; Clergy--Kentucky; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
00:41:48 - Church commitment to mission

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Partial Transcript: I know, um, you have always had a strong feeling toward mission and in 1967, I believe, did you not go to Japan while you were here?

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about his strong belief in church missions. He talks about funding medical clinics in Korea with his church in Cumberland, Maryland. He talks about his mission in Japan with pastors from other churches. He talks about Second Presbyterian Church's participation in the $50 Million Fund, as well as their support of a halfway house in Lexington.

Keywords: $50 Million Fund; American pastors; Cumberland (Md.); Debts; Dr. Moffatt; Experimental missions; General Assembly; Giving; Goals; Halfway houses; Hospitals; Interdenominational; Japan; Korea; Lost money; Meals on Wheels; Medical clinics; Overseas missions; Pledges; Session

Subjects: Church committees.; Church group work with children; Church work; Clergy--Kentucky; Community life; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.); Volunteers

GPS: Japan
Map Coordinates: 35.683333, 139.766667
00:52:45 - Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Partial Transcript: One thing that I, I guess is never in the record but com--keeps coming back to me as, as a community viewpoint of Second--of, uh, Second Church Lexington is the night that--the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed.

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about the community gathering held at Second Presbyterian Church the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. He talks briefly about the church's cooperation with local Black churches.

Keywords: Assassinations; Media; Outlet for grief; Reputations; Sanctuary; Summer Club

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African American leadership; African Americans--Social conditions.; Churches--Kentucky; Civil rights movements--United States; Community life; Grief.; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968.; Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
00:55:27 - Christian education

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Partial Transcript: Do you, uh, remember any other special programs or anything that, uh--maybe in the area of Christian education or...

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about wanting to attend classes at Lexington Theological Seminary, and how he eventually earned his doctorate. He talks about how he used his dissertation to teach classes at Second Presbyterian Church. He talks about various Directors of Christian Education at the church over the years.

Keywords: Bauman Series; Church classes; Director of Christian Education; Doctorate; Lexington Theological Seminary; Luke; Ministers; Superintendent of Sunday schools; Theology; Thesis

Subjects: Christian education.; Clergy--Kentucky; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Teaching.

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
01:01:52 - More on international missions and pastors

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Partial Transcript: During 1972 we had a group of, um, uh, mission nights.

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about ministers visiting Second Presbyterian Church from other countries, the World Council of Churches, and visiting missionaries.

Keywords: Buckhorn; India; Mission nights; Missionaries; Taiwan; Talks; Visiting ministers; World Council of Churches

Subjects: Church committees.; Church work; Clergy; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
01:08:49 - Involvement in organizations

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Partial Transcript: I know there are things outside of our church that you were involved in as far as Christian mission and I would like to have you tell us something about those.

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about his involvement in various organizations during his time at Second Presbyterian Church. He talks about his work in Eastern Kentucky, Pikeville College, Kiwanis, the Informal Club of Lexington, Alcoholics Anonymous, and groups at Second Presbyterian like Kouples Klub.

Keywords: Alcoholics Anonymous; Barbara Robertson; Board of Pikeville College; Bob McClure; Buckhorn; Carl Wolfe; Eastern Kentucky; Handbells; Informal Club of Lexington; Intellectual; Involvement; Kouples Klub; Lexington Kiwanis Club; Montessori schools; Playing Bridge; The Ring and the Bible; Weddings

Subjects: Church work; Clergy--Kentucky; Community life; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.); Volunteers

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
01:17:01 - Church renovation / break-ins at the church

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Partial Transcript: We didn't have any really great, um, building going on but we had a lot of renovation and things while you were--

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about some of the renovation that occurred at Second Presbyterian Church during his time there. He tells a story about a break-in at the church that his wife witnessed.

Keywords: Barbara Robertson; Break-ins; Meals on Wheels; Organists; Remodeling; Robberies

Subjects: Church buildings--Kentucky.; Church maintenance and repair; Construction; Presbyterian church buildings; Religious facilities.; Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)

GPS: Second Presbyterian Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.039723, -84.490626
01:21:03 - Working in retirement communities

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Partial Transcript: Well it was wonderful years and we loved having you but the time came you wanted to move on.

Segment Synopsis: Robertson talks about leaving Second Presbyterian Church to work at a retirement community in Santa Fe. He talks about his duties there and why he wanted to retire after five years. He talks about taking a part-time position at another community in Florida before his retirement. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Administration; Administrators; Cooperstown (N.Y.); Duties; Leaving; Management; Meals; Missionaries; Pastors; Preaching; Retirement communities

Subjects: Career changes.; Clergy; Community life; Lakeland (Fla.); Santa Fe (N.M.)

GPS: Santa Fe (N.M.)
Map Coordinates: 35.667222, -105.964444