By Gisele McKnight
A dignified, fitting tribute to a dignified man is how the funeral of Archbishop Harold Nutter is being described. The Requiem celebrating the life and ministry of Bishop Nutter was held from Christ Church Cathedral Sept. 14 before a large crowd.
Bishop Nutter died in Perth, Ont. Sept. 9 after a period of ill health. He was 93. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Fredericton from 1971 to 1989, and as archbishop of the Province of Canada from 1980-89. He was the first diocesan bishop to be born in New Brunswick.
Noted funeral guests included Bishop Robert Harris, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint John; Fredericton Deputy Mayor Kate Rogers; and Dr. Gwendolyn Davies, representing the University of Kings College, Halifax. Many clergy who once served in the diocese were present, including former Dean of Fredericton Keith Joyce and former rector of Trinity, Saint John, Christopher Pratt.
Grandson Christopher Hunsley described his grandfather as a simple boy from Welsford who grew to be a proud New Brunswicker, a man of God and a loving husband and father.
“To watch him with my grandmother was an inspiration,” he said.
He loved getting letters, cards and notes from New Brunswick and they came quite often, he said. He also loved to laugh.
His grandsons’ nickname for their grandfather was Cuckoo, after a clock they owned. They took great delight in calling to “Cuckoo” in public — “Hey, Cuckoo! Hi Cuckoo!”
“It thrilled him,” he said. “It represents the type of man he was — unpretentious.”
Christopher told the story of his mother, Patricia, who as a child had just gotten new, trendy shoes. They got ruined on the first day, but instead of a scolding, she got a new pair from her father the next day to replace the ruined ones.
“He lived through his children’s happiness every day,” he said.
He showered that same love on his two grandsons.
“He never missed an opportunity to make my brother and me feel special,” he said.
His last words to Christopher, delivered with a wink, were ‘I really like you.’
“I really like you, too. May you rest in peace and fly with the angels,” said Christopher, in concluding his remarks.
The Rev. Bruce Nutter, the bishop’s son, read the lesson from Revelation 21. Bishop David Edwards read a letter from Primate Fred Hiltz, who said, “We remember well the diligence and good cheer he had in carrying out his duties… We are grateful for the wisdom and wit that marked his leadership.”
Bishop David spoke of following Bishop Nutter in two of his posts, first as rector of Stone Church in Saint John, and secondly as bishop.
“I am very aware of his reputation as a pastor and as a leader,” said Bishop David.
Bishop Nutter had an early sense of his vocation, diligently taking the train from Welsford into the city each day to attend Saint John High School. He was often found in the library studying Greek, said Bishop David.
Near the end of the service, bishops George Lemmon, Claude Miller and Robert Harris offered prayers.
Nutter is survived by his wife of 71 years, Edith (Carew), daughter Patricia (Paul Gervais), son the Rev. Bruce Nutter, and two grandsons, Timothy and Christopher Hunsley.
A large crowd gathered at Cathedral Memorial Hall after the service to visit with the family and reminisce about the bishop who shepherded the diocese through a time of great social and world change.
The committal was at Christ Church, Woodstock, on Friday, Sept. 15.