Orville C. Beckord dies, long-time sacristan at the cathedral



Orville Clinton Beckord, 91, of Camden, long-time sacristan at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, died Aug. 8 at the age of 91.

Born in Utica, Neb., Mr. Beckord received a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Nebraska. He worked during World War II at Dupont’s Military Explosives Division, and then at the government’s research center in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Following the war, he worked at Campbell Soup in Camden for four years, and followed this as a chemist at the newly opened Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden in 1950, where he worked for 31 years.

Since the 1970s, he had been lector, and since 1982, he had been sacristan at the cathedral, where everyone referred to him as Orville. His quiet fidelity and zeal for his church, and its priests and people, were admired by those who shared the privilege of his company.

Msgr. Michael Mannion, former rector at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, recalled a “great man…with deep wisdom” who lived a simple lifestyle, but who also had “a strong love of the poor, and was very generous to (them).”

Jim Gilbride, who knew Mr. Beckord for almost 20 years, would occasionally give him a ride home from daily Mass, when Beckord had trouble getting around later in life.

“He was a good person, friend. Astute, intelligent, a man with whom you could talk anything about,” said Gilbride, who remembers talking sports, politics and other topics with Beckord.

Mr. Beckford was a member of the Knights of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Council 439. In May 2009, he was awarded Senior Citizen of the Year by the New Jersey State Council Knights of Columbus.

He is survived by a nephew, Chris Beckord and his wife, Debbie, of Grayslake, Ill.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Aug. 13 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Interment was in Calvary Cemetery, Cherry Hill.