James N. Gettemy, Hartford Seminary President from 1958 through 1976, passed away in Bloomfield, CT on June 27, 2013. He is survived by his wife, Helen, and daughters, Jessica G. Porter and Sara G. Worcester.
Prior to serving as Hartford Seminary’s president, Dr. Gettemy had previously been minister of the Garden City Community Church in Garden City, Long Island for 14 years. Born in Greenburg, PA, he received an A.B. from Allegheny College, a B.D. from Union Theological Seminary and an L.H.D. from Adelphi College. He also did graduate work at Columbia University, New York School of Social Work and at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. While in New York, he was also part-time instructor in the department of philosophy and religion at Adelphi College.
At Hartford Seminary, Dr. Gettemy was both administrator and scholar. In addition to his position as president, Dr. Gettemy was also professor of pastoral theology, a position which combined his expertise as a scholar with his extensive practical experience in leading congregations. In his acceptance speech, he said of the Seminary, “Its unique character as a non-denominational graduate ‘university of religion,’ training students of many denominations and from many countries, races and cultures for vital fields of religion and social service, offers an opportunity worldwide in its influence.”
While he was president, Dr. Gettemy led the Seminary through some of its most challenging times. Among his first major initiatives was to bring the Seminary’s three schools (Hartford Theological Seminary, Hartford School of Religious Education and the Kennedy School of Missions) together to form a single institution: Hartford Seminary Foundation. (The institution was later renamed Hartford Seminary.)
Dr. Gettemy’s role at Hartford Seminary continued to be transformational. A decade later, he worked with the Seminary’s Board of Trustees to reformulate the mission of the seminary to its current commitment to interfaith dialogue, to preparing peacemakers and to promoting vital faith communities.
In 1976, Dr. Gettemy left the seminary to return to pastoring. He later retired to his home in Orleans, MA and then to Bloomfield, CT. Always loyal to Hartford Seminary, he spoke of the school as being “One of the few institutions connecting (‘making the connection between’) present day world struggles with the need for understanding among the religions of Abraham.”
Hartford Seminary has continued to recognize Dr. Gettemy’s contributions and achievements. In 2004, Dr. Gettemy was awarded Hartford Seminary’s President’s Council Award for Distinguished Service.
A service of celebration for Jim’s life will be held at the Duncaster community in Bloomfield, at the Caleb Hitchcock Health Center, 41 Loeffler Rd. Bloomfield, on Tuesday, July 2 at 11:00 a.m. A second service at the Federated Church of East Orleans, MA will be held on Sunday, July 14 at 3:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions be made to the James N. Gettemy Memorial Scholarship Fund at Hartford Seminary, directed to the Institutional Advancement Office, 77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT 06105.
For a link to Dr. Gettemy's Hartford Courant obituary, please click here.