SCITUATE, MA (January 22, 2010) – A memorial service for Wallace “Wally” Cedarleaf, 91, chaplain emeritus at the New England Seafarer’s Mission, will be conducted in the late spring or early summer. He died Monday.
Cedarleaf was born April 13, 1918, in Chicago. He graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 1945. He married Ethel Svendlund July 14, 1945.
The couple served at the Kallman Children’s Home in Brooklyn, New York, and several Evangelical Covenant churches in New Sweden, Maine; Corona, Long Island; and Holdan, Massachusetts. They also served a United Church of Christ congregation in Sidney, New York.
Cedarleaf was known to Covenanters throughout the United States for his work as chaplain at the Seafarer’s Mission. Covenant leaders credit Cedarleaf with bringing viability and stability to the ministry, which had been struggling prior to his arrival.
Cedarleaf was the ministry’s chaplain and director from 1968 to 1984. He was known for bringing a miniature lighthouse with him whenever he visited churches.
Sailors could recognize Cedarleaf from afar because he frequently wore bright clothing, a large wooden cross around his neck, and an ever-present cap.
“He just had a great love for those seafarers,” says Steve Cushing, the ministry’s senior chaplain and director. “He would sit with those seafarers on their ships and just listen for as long as they needed.”
Cushing adds, “You always felt like you were the only one he was talking to.”
Cedarleaf was named chaplain emeritus in 1993. He also received recognition for his service from the U.S. House of Representatives and the International Council of Seafarers Agencies, which inscribed a plaque: “Padre to some, father to others, maybe reverend or sir, but always a friend who reaches out to the four corners of the earth.”
Survivors include his son, David Cedarleaf, Utah; and a daughter, Diane Cedarleaf, who teaches in Zambia.
A private service was held at his bedside. Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Ethel Cedarleaf, 355 Tilden Road, Scituate, MA, 02066.