Parish History:Leslie Frederick Wallace

LESLIE FREDERICK WALLACE, the son of Frederick A. and Martha J. (Mitchell) Wallace, was born 6 August 1892 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. His father was employed as a "roll coverer" in a belt shop, a business that supplied the textile mills in Lawrence. He attended Lawrence High School. He was graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 1914 with a B.A. degree and from Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1917 with a B.D. (Bachelor of Divinity) degree. He was ordained a deacon in May 1917 by the Rt. Rev. Samuel Gavitt Babcock, Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts. After graduation, he was appointed curate at St. Thomas' Church in Taunton, Massachusetts. While there, he was ordained to the priesthood in March 1918 by Bishop Babcock.

At a special parish meeting on 28 April 1919, the parish voted to accept him to succeed the Rev. Angus Dun as vicar at St. Andrew's Church in Ayer and at the Forge Village mission. Rev. Wallace worked faithfully and successfully for our parish. He was untiring in his efforts with young people. He founded the Order of Sir Galahad, the boys' club of the parish, which met at the Groton School gymasium. Having served for over five years, he announced his resignation rather suddenly, effective 30 September 1924, to take the position of assistant curate at All Saints Memorial Church in Providence, Rhode Island. In the fall of 1925, he became the associate rector at Church of the Epiphany in Dorchester, Massachusetts. During his time there, was was chaplain at summer boys' camps and worked at the Church settlement house in Boston, shepherding flocks of youngsters to Revere Beach. He returned to marry a parishioner, Mary Cleary, daughter of Timothy P. and Catherine (McGurn) Cleary of Ayer, 30 November 1925 at St. Andrew's Church in Ayer. They had no children.

Early in 1927, he was asked to preach an "invitation sermon" at St. Barnabas Memorial Church in Falmouth, Massachusetts. The parish has been described as a "manorial church", having been organized in 1888 by E. Pierson Beebe of Boston, a director of the Androscoggin Mills in Lewiston, Maine, one of the largest cotton mills in New England. E. Pierson Beebe had built Highfield Hall in 1878, the first of the great summer homes in Falmouth, and had built St. Barnabas Memorial Church in 1889, a thank offering for his financial success. The Rev Leslie F. Wallace evidently preached a successful "invitation sermon" because he was called to St. Barnabas and officiated for the first time on 3 July 1927. However, one of the first things that parishioners discovered about Mr. Wallace was his interest in boys and girls. The neighborhood of St. Barnabas quickly became accustomed to seeing the rector in shirtsleeves swinging a bat as he knocked flys for small fry to catch.

After the deaths of E. Pierson Beebe, senior warden from 1888-1926, and his brother, Franklin H. Beebe, senior warden from 1926-1932, the Rev. Leslie F. Wallace successfully guided St. Barnabas Church through the transition from "manorial church" to independent parish. In September 1935, life in the upper western portion of Cape Cod changed forever when the War Department approved acquisition of up to 200,000 acres of land as a training area for the Army National Guard because Camp Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts had been determined to be too small for the National Guard's requirements. The initial construction effort represented the largest WPA project in the state, employing more than 600 workmen, who constructed 63 buildings and 2 runways. The facility was named Camp Edwards. In 1940, the U.S. Army leased Camp Edwards and undertook a major World War II mobilization construction program. During the war years, the Rev. Leslie F. Wallace served his parishioners and assisted the Army chaplains at Camp Edwards. It was challenging work; among the facilities on Camp Edwards were the East Coast Processing Center that housed and counseled in the years 1943-1945 over 40,000 men who had gone AWOL at the time their units were shipped overseas, and a German prisoner of war (POW) camp that contained 2,000 German POW's, mainly from General Erwin Rommel's North Africa Corps.

While at St. Barnabas Church, he was a member of Marine Lodge A.F. & A.M., serving as its chaplain, chaplain of the Falmouth Fire Department, president of the Village Improvement Society, and from 1937-1942, president of the Falmouth Historical Society. He preached his last sermon on Sunday, 2 June 1957, just one month short of his 30th anniversary as rector. After retirement, he and his wife moved to Rockport, Maine.

The Rev. Leslie Frederick Wallace died on 25 December 1957 in Camden, Maine at the age of 65. His funeral service at St. Barnabas Memorial Church was conducted by the Rev. William G. Workman, Rector of St. Barnabas Church, assisted by the Rt. Rev. Frederic C. Lawrence, Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. Raymond A. Heron, retired Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts, and the Rev. Haig J. Nargesian, Rector of St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in Camden, Maine. He was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Falmouth.

In his memory, the parishioners of St. Barnabas Memorial Church raised the funds for a large five-panel stained glass window, to be installed over the front door of the church. Known in the parish as the "Te Deum Window", it was dedicated in June 1964.
Sources:
1. Bennett, Mrs. Frank Silas History of St. Andrew's Church: Ayer, Groton, Forge Village 1892-1942 (Ayer, Massachusetts: St. Andrew's Church, 1944), 18.
2. The Clerical Directory of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America 1956 (New York: The Church Hymnal Corporation, 1956), 421.
3. Deyo, Simeon L, editor History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts (New York: H. W. Blake & Co., 1890), 651.
4. "Last Tributes Are Rendered to Rev. Mr. Wallace", Falmouth Enterprise, Falmouth, Massachusetts, 27 December 1957, 1.
5. "Wedding", Turners Public Spirit, Ayer, Massachusetts, 13 September 1924, 5.
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