Pardee, Richard Gay
Pardee, Richard Gay one of the most noted Sunday-school workers of our day, and one of the most remarkable of American lay-workers in the interests of the Christian Church, was born at Sharon, Conn., Oct. 12, 1811, and was the oldest of a family of twelve children. His boyhood was spent on his father's farm, upon Sharon Mountain, and Richard attended the common district school. This was the only schooling he ever had. At the age of seventeen he went to Seneca Falls, N. Y., to live with an uncle, and was engaged for a time as a clerk in the post-office, but afterwards learned the dry-goods business. He was at this time strongly inclined to a life of gayety; but about 1831 he was converted, and ever after he most faithfully served the Church and his God. He became at once active in Sunday-school work, and being of a quick, perceptive turn,of mind he fathomed the imperfections of Sunday- school training as it prevailed at that time, and applied himself to bring about improvements. While living in Palmyra, N. Y., where he had engaged in business, he became intimate with Mr. L. B. Tousley, the well-known children's missionary of that region, and the two friends made frequent missionary tours together through the western part of the state, addressing large meetings of children, teachers, and friends of Sunday-schools. Pardee was at that time a Presbyterian elder, and superintendent of the Sunday- school of the church to which he belonged, and also corresponding secretary of the "Wayne County Sunday-school Union." From 1851 to 1853 he resided at Geneva, N. Y., and then removed to New York City to enter the service of the "New York Sunday-school Union." As the agent of that organization, his business was to promote in every legitimate way a healthy activity in the cause of Sunday-schools, but especially to secure the establishment of mission-schools. The agent was well suited to the task assigned him, and the work accomplished became at once a spur and a model for Christian workers in this line of effort in other cities. The mission-schools of the New York Sunday-school Union became a notable feature in the religious movement of the great metropolis, and had a wide influence in leading to similar operations elsewhere. He resigned his position in the Union in the fall of 1863 to take a position as agent in a life insurance company, but he so conditioned his employers that he had perfect liberty to go and come when he pleased, and he became thenceforth of even greater service to the general Sundayschool interests of this country than he had previously been. He now spent more than three fourths of his time in voluntary, unpaid labor in the Sunday-school cause, going to conventions, institutes, and Sundayschool meetings of every kind to which he was invited, visiting in this way every state in the union except California, everywhere welcome, and everywhere carrying with him an influence rich in blessing. He was also sent for by the students of several of our largest theological seminaries, and delivered in each a course of familiar lectures on the practical details of Sundayschool organization and labor. Among the institutions in which he thus labored were the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Princeton, the Union Seminary in New York, and the Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia These blessed labors were suddenly cut short by death, Feb. 11, 1869. A more gentle, genial, loving spirit was never met. Without being remarkably original, he was yet eminently progressive in his ideas, always keeping himself on the top of the advancing wave; and the new ideas which he gathered and scattered in such rich profusion wherever he went were in turn sent broadcast all over the country through the columns of the Sunday-school Times, to which he regularly contributed from the establishment of that paper until his hand ceased to hold a pen. Mr. C. C. North, the noted Methodist lay-worker, in a eulogy which he pays the much lamented Pardee, writes (N. Y. Christian Advocate, Feb. 18,1869): "It has not been within my province to write of philosophic powers, of scientific researches, of brilliant poetic conceptions, nor of splendid oratory; but of traits, virtues, and usefulness, so singular and so rare, that while the generation past produced but one Raikes, the present has given birth to but one Pardee." His two volumes, the Sunday-school Worker and the Sabbath- school index, are widely known and prized. See Dr. John S. Hart in Sunday-school Times, April 3, 1869.