William Greene Lee Quaite

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1814 - 1895

On the 17th day of April, 1895, occurred the death of one of the noblest and most consecrated ministers which the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has ever produced. This was Rev. W. G. L. Quaite, who had attained the ripe age of 81 years, having been born in Christian county, Ky., February 15, 1814. His earliest associations were with Cumberland Presbyterians, and his admiration for the church began in his boyhood and grew in intensity as his life progressed, so that it may safely be said that no man was ever more proud of the denomination to which he belonged. He grew up in the old Antioch neighborhood near Hopkinsville, Ky., and was, therefore, reared on historic ground. His memory was remarkable, and many were the incidents he was accustomed to relate concerning the hallowed and inspiring associations of his early life.

Through Davis Presbytery he was brought into the ministry. After the many changes of an eventful career, he again became a member of this presbytery a few years before his death.

Mr. Quaite was educated at "Old Cumberland College," Princeton, Ky., where he came in contact with the fathers of the church and received an inspiration which glowed with ever increasing fervor upon the altar of his heart. As we study his career it may seriously be questioned whether this influence, from personal contact with the strong men of those days, was not worth as much to him as the mental training he received in the class room. Without that peculiar zest and devotion that were an unfailing source of encouragement and hopefulness he could never have reached the high standard of life that made him one of the most successful men in practical affairs the church has ever had. In his planning he devised liberal things, and he gave liberally himself. For Cumberland College he traveled extensively throughout the church without salary, and at his own charges, raising thousands of dollars to keep the institution going when only the most courageous could see anything but failure in store for it. In the same manner he subsequently raised a large sum for educational purposes in the State of Arkansas, all of which, however, was swept away by the devastation of the war. In later years, when a resident of Texas, he showed like zeal for the education of the young, and when the time was ripe for the establishment of a first-class institution of learning he was at the front with his voice, his labor, and his purse. He was appointed a member of the commission that located Trinity University, and at its first meeting was made chairman of that body. Throughout his long career he never wavered in his devotion to the cause of education, which he considered vital to the welfare of the church. Many a struggling young man was encouraged by his counsel and helped by his purse to procure proper training for his life work.

In promoting the building of new houses of worship, Brother Quaite was a signal success. Space forbids even the mention of the long list of congregations in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas which he helped through the crisis of their building period. Very often he was called by a church session to perform this particular service, and his zeal prompted him to respond whenever he could. His custom was to name first the amount he would pay and then push the canvass until the enterprise was a success. At such times his influence over others was remarkable, and his own liberality was in the highest degree commendable, unless we should say he was "liberal to a fault." I have seen his private memorandum covering this phase of his life work. His gifts extended into the thousands of dollars, and his record as a "church builder" is perhaps without a parallel in the history of the denomination.

As the weakness of years began to be felt Brother Quaite returned to Kentucky to spend the remainder of his days among old friends and amid the scenes of his childhood. His marriage to Mrs. Mary Hall occurred in January, 1885, and during the last decade of his career she was ever at his side, a loyal and devoted wife. She now resides at Thornton Home, where they had come to spend the remnant of their days. From this delightful retreat, the labors of a long life ended, the spirit of this noble man went to abide in the higher home in the heavens. In my last conversation with Brother Quaite he said he had not language to express his gratitude to the church that had so kindly ministered to him in his old age, and that he could die happy since he was leaving his wife in "such good hands." He was assured that he had richly earned far more than the church had ever bestowed upon him, and that his companion should never lack for the attention due her in the name of Christ. In our own sorrow over his loss we rejoice that his end was so happy and triumphant. Amid all his financial reverses and other troubles he ever preserved a hopeful spirit and was a model of Christian cheerfulness.

At Oak Hill Cemetery, near Evansville, Ind., he sleeps in consecrated ground. In this beautiful place the members of the Board of Ministerial Relief laid him away to rest, doing so in the name of the church they represent. Beside him lie the remains of other noble servants of the church who have fought the good fight and finished their course. May the influence of such lives long abide as an inspiration moving younger men to noblest deeds.

Evansville, Ind.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, September 19, 1895, page 159]

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Updated September 1, 2006