VERNON, WALTER NEWTON, JR.
(1907–1993). Walter N. Vernon, Jr., historian and
minister, was born in Verden, Oklahoma, on March 24,
1907, to Rev. Walter N. and Fannie (Dodd) Vernon, both
native Texans. The Vernon family spent the first three
years of young Walter's life moving around to different
Methodist congregations. In 1911 they settled in Paris,
Texas, where Vernon went to grammar and secondary
school, eventually graduating from Paris High School in
1924. He went on to Paris Junior College and completed
his bachelor's degree at Southern Methodist University
in 1928. He stayed at SMU and earned a bachelor of
divinity in 1931 and a master of arts in 1934. West
Virginia Wesleyan College awarded Vernon an honorary
doctorate of letters in 1963. While still at SMU, he was
elected pastor at the Lakewood Methodist Church in
Dallas. He stayed at Lakewood until 1938, when he moved
to Nashville, Tennessee, and accepted a position as an
assistant editor at the General Board of Education of
the United Methodist Church. Vernon remained at the GBE
until 1972. In 1953 he was promoted to secretary of the
curriculum committee, and his duties expanded to include
responsibility for all of the church's school
publications. Along with his regular job as an editor,
Vernon also devoted considerable time and energy to
documenting and preserving the history of the Methodist
Church in the United States. His first book,
Methodism Moves Across North Texas, was published
in 1967. He followed it with Forever Building: The
Life and Ministry of Paul E. Martin (1973) and
Methodism in Arkansas, 1816–1976 (1976). Along with
others, he contributed to The Methodist Excitement
in Texas: A History which was published in 1984.
Vernon was married to Ruth Mason and they were the
parents of two children. The minister died on March 10,
1993, and was buried at
Furneaux Cemetery near
Dallas Morning News, March 12,
1993. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center
for American History, University of Texas at
Christian scholar Walter N. Vernon Jr. dies
The Rev. Walter N. Vernon Jr. -- a Christian scholar, editor and historian
who chronicled the pioneer years of the United Methodist Church in Texas and
Oklahoma -- died Wednesday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas of
congestive heart failure. He was 85.
Services will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Lakewood United Methodist Church.
Burial will be at Furneaux
Cemetery in Carrollton.
A minister for more than six decades, Mr. Vernon spent 34 years as editor of
Methodist church school publications in Nashville, Tenn., where he supervised
the production of periodicals and Sunday school materials.
The noted historian specialized in the history of the early Methodist church.
Among his works were six books on Methodist history, including volumes on Texas
Methodism and Indian Methodism in Oklahoma.
Mr. Vernon was a founder and first president of the Texas Methodist Historical
Society in 1975.
Before taking his Nashville position, Mr. Vernon was pastor of Lakewood
Methodist in Dallas from 1931 to 1938.
A prolific writer, Mr. Vernon was once a special correspondent for The Dallas
Morning News and the The Tennessean of Nashville, covering nationwide
denominational meetings. He also reviewed religion books for the Dallas Times
Herald, edited the religion page for the Dallas Journal and had articles printed
in such publications as the East Texas Historical Journal, Methodist History
Magazine and Chronicles of Oklahoma.
Mr. Vernon, who retired in 1972 and moved back to Dallas in 1986, had recently
been working on a history of the United Methodist Reporter, a national secular
newspaper based in Dallas.
In 1983, he was inducted into the United Methodist Association of Communicators
Hall of Fame.
During his long career, Mr. Vernon served on numerous boards and agencies within
the denomination's North Texas Conference. In the 1950s, he was a member of a
National Council of Churches audio-visual team that toured 10 African nations
and was a delegate to the World Council on Christian Education in Tokyo.
The son of a pioneer Methodist minister, Mr. Vernon was born in 1907 in western
Oklahoma, where his father preached to white settlers and American Indians
Mr. Vernon lived in several Texas and Oklahoma towns before he graduated from
Paris High School in Paris, Texas. He graduated as valedictorian from Paris
Junior College in 1926 before receiving bachelor's, master's and doctor of
divinity degrees from Southern Methodist University. He received an honorary
doctorate from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1963.
Survivors include his wife, Ruth Vernon of Dallas; one son, Walter Vernon III of
Prairie Village, Kan.; one daughter, Kathleen Frances Clark of Florence, Ala.;
one brother, Dodd Vernon of Dallas; three sisters, Ruth Vernon Nyfeler, Pauline
Vernon Miller and Opal Vernon Nicholls, all of Dallas; five grandchildren; and a