Rev. Dr. Richard A. Morledge
Grove City College is mourning the passing of the Rev. Dr. Richard A. Morledge ’54, an accomplished alumnus and “good and faithful servant.”
Dr. Morledge passed away Sunday, Sept. 18. He was 90.
He served the College in many roles, including Dean of the Chapel, a member of the Board of Trustees, vice president of the Alumni Association, and, during his student days, as mascot Willie the Wolverine. He earned the College’s highest honors and awards and the affection of the campus community through his devotion and dedication to his alma mater and optimistic Christian worldview.
“It’s a great day in the kingdom,” Dr. Morledge would remind students at every Chapel and service he led, creating a catchphrase familiar to generations of Grovers.
“Dick Morledge’s influence on the soul of Grove City College is immeasurable. His wisdom and wit touched countless lives as he generously and tirelessly served the College for decades. He was our shepherd who faithfully prayed and cared for his flock of students, employees, trustees, and alumni of his beloved alma mater,” College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 said. “Though Dr. Morledge’s love is irreplaceable, the entire campus community rejoices in the knowledge that our dear friend is now in the presence of the Great Shepherd he so passionately served.”
“I consider Dick Morledge to be one of the best people I have ever met. He is among the giants of Grove City College’s history as a leading benefactor to the strong spiritual structure of our campus,” College Board of Trustees Chair Edward D. Breen ’78 said.
In addition to his work with the College, he was a respected and highly regarded Presbyterian pastor who led churches in western Pennsylvania, lectured at Washington and Jefferson College and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, led the Pittsburgh Presbytery, and wrote two books.
Dr. Morledge guided the spiritual life on campus from 1984 to 1999 as Dean of Chapel. During that time, he directed the programming of Harbison Chapel, led worship at weekly vespers, and presided over special ceremonies including presidential inaugurations and notable celebrations. He began an ongoing campus Christmas tradition of reciting “A Christmas Prayer” by Grace Noll Crowell at the Candlelight Service in Harbison Chapel.
He was a dedicated member of the Alumni Council, serving as director of annual giving and vice president. In 1990, he received a Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement Award for his work in the field of religion. In 2016 he received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. The College presented him with two separate honorary degrees, one in 1973 and another in 2000.
He served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2014. When he was elected Trustee Emeritus that year, the Board said: “(T)hrough prayer and prudence he has served as a wise and able counselor, always led by the Spirit, to trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, and others, and … when we think of the Rev. Dr. Morledge, we are reminded of a man who, in the words of J. Howard Pew, has an ‘abiding faith in God and country’ …"
Born April 9, 1932, Dr. Morledge grew up in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh, Pa. As a student at Grove City College, he was a member of the Beta Sigma fraternity, Theta Alpha Phi theater honorary, the College’s soccer team, the Christian Service League, and the Classics Club. He also served as an officer for his freshman, sophomore, and senior year classes as well as working as business manager for The Collegian, the Grove City College student newspaper. He was the second person to suit up as the College’s Willie the Wolverine mascot.
After graduating from the College in 1954, he earned a Master of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1957 and began a pastoral career at Mt. Prospect Presbyterian Church in Hickory, Pa. In 1960, Morledge accepted the pastorate of First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown, Pa., where his worship service was broadcast every Sunday.
He was involved in the Pittsburgh Presbytery, serving as moderator in 1976 and chairman of its council from 1971-74. In addition to working with the Presbytery, Dr. Morledge also served on the board, as a member and a president of several Free Mason associations. In 1983, he was named grand chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania.
In 1984, Dr. Morledge accepted an offer to become Dean of the Chapel at Grove City College. He continued to serve as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in a shared ministry until 1995, when he retired from the pastorate to concentrate on his work at the College.
Throughout his career, Dr. Morledge was a sought-after speaker at various college chapels, as well as Synod Schools, and Masonic lodges throughout Western Pennsylvania. He was also a scholar and traveler. After studying in Rome, Greece, Lebanon, and Israel, he became a Qualified Teacher of the Bethel Bible Series, graduated from the Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership, and conducted tours of Israel, Greece, and Rome. He also wrote two books, “It’s a Great Day in the Kingdom” and “Great Days in the Kingdom.”
After his retirement, Dr. Morledge remained active, preaching several times a month, and serving as a board member for several organizations. Pursuing his hobby of woodworking, he also opened a business called The Bishop’s Wood Shop.
Many of Dr. Morledge’s relatives spanning four generations graduated from Grove City College.