Christian 20

Rev. Dr. Bernard M. Oakes

November 9, 1930 ~ April 10, 2022 (age 91)


Rev. Dr. Bernard M. Oakes 91, passed away peacefully at 12:07 p.m. on Sunday April 10, 2022 at the Continuing Health Care of Niles following a short illness. He was born on November 9, 1930 the second son, third child of Joseph M. and Mertie B. (Lilly) Okes.

Bernard was a 1948 graduate of Princeton (WV) High School and a 1952 graduate of Bethany (WV) College. While at Bethany he was a 3 year letterman in football and co-captain of the team his junior year. He also was co-captain of his freshman basketball team, a 4 year letterman in track and field and co-captain of the 1952 track and field team which took second place in Tri State competition. They also won the WV Intercollegiate track and field title in 1952. In February of his senior year Bernard saw a freshman girl playing the clarinet in the College band and learned her name was Ann Wilson. He called her and, as was common on that small campus, she accepted an invitation for an on-campus date that Friday night. Two and half months later they were engaged and were married two years and two months after that. Rev. Dr. Oakes was ordained June 8, 1952, in the early morning hours before his Bethany College graduation, in the historic old church where Bethany's founder Alexander Campbell, had been the preacher. A week later Rev. Oakes was ordained again in his home church in Princeton, West Virginia.

Bernard went to Lexington, Kentucky to graduate seminary and obtained his graduate degree from Lexington Theological Seminary in May 1955. His wife, Ann, received her B.A. from the University of Kentucky that same week. In 1973 he earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Lexington Theological Seminary and, in 1994, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Bethany College, his alma mater.

After seminary, Rev. Dr. Oakes served as Minister of Youth and Associate Pastor of High Street Christian Church, Akron, then pastor of Central Christian Church, Clarksburg, WV and, for 32 years and 2 months, was pastor of First Christian Church, Niles. He then served the Lordstown Christian Church for 26 years and officially retired as Minister Emeritus on March 31, 2022.

In addition to his ministry, Dr. Oakes was a limited service professor in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department of Youngstown State University for more than 30 years.

One of Bernard's proudest professional achievements has been his relationship in the ecumenical community through the co-founding and chairmanship (with Vindicator reporter, Tom Murphy) of the Niles Interfaith Banquet. That effort continues to strive to bring cooperation and understanding among the Protestants and Catholics in the Niles area and to reinforce the dream of his dear friend, the late Rev. Father Nicholas Arioli. It has resulted in the formation of the Niles Clergy Association, two senior housing projects called Central Park Apartments and Edison Place, the honoring of many Christian youth, and more open Christian community spirit. This banquet continues today on the second Sunday following Easter.

Through these efforts Rev. Dr. Oakes has received awards from the Niles Fraternal Order of Eagles, Niles Knights of Columbus, Sincerity Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Masons, Niles Churches for Housing and Interfaith Banquet. He has been the Carmen DeChristofaro Citizen of the Year from the Niles Jaycees. He has given 40 years of service to the American Red Cross, was a 16 gallon blood donor and a long time board member of Niles Community Services. In 2003 Rev. Dr. Oakes was inducted into the Niles McKinley High School Distinguished Honorary Alumni Hall of Fame.

He was honored for his 50th Jubilee of ordination, for a retiring trustee of Niles Churches for Housing and for a retiring trustee of Trumbull County Mental Health Board. Dr. Oakes was of the YSU Philosophy Circle, has received an Honored Minister pin from Niles First Christian Church and has held many offices in his denomination's state and national work. His latest denominational assignment was as Regional Elder. Rev. Dr. Oakes has held many offices in the Clarksburg and Niles Kiwanis Clubs and was a member of the Niles Frontliners Club. He was a member and past chairman of Niles Planning Commission, member and past chairman of Niles Zoning Board and a member of the Base-Community Council of the 910th Air Wing at the Vienna (OH) Air Base. Rev. Dr. Oakes was a member and chairman of Niles Community Services, a trustee of Trumbull County Mental Health Association, a board member of Trumbull County Family Service and an executive member of United Way Fund of Trumbull County.

Bernard is survived by his daughter Melody Oakes of Niles; daughter in law Christine E. Oakes Wendland (Dave) of Wisconsin; three grandchildren, Rebekah E. (Dan) Gesch, Daniel Mark Oakes, Hannah Colette Schmidt; two great grandchildren Danny and Evey Gesch. He was preceded in death by his wife Ann V. (Wilson) Oakes whom he married on June 14, 1954 and who died on March 20, 2014; son, Mark Luther Oakes who died on June 11, 2005 and his extended family.

Calling hours will be from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22, 2022 at the Lordstown Christian Church. The Funeral will be at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at the Niles First Christian Church with calling hours at the Niles church from 10:00 a.m. to the time of the services. The Rev. Allen V. Harris and the Rev. Christopher Stark will officiate. His cremated remains will be interred at a later date in Roselawn Cemetery, Princeton, West Virginia next to his beloved wife, son and other Oakes family members.

In lieu of flowers, Memorial contributions may be made to the Niles Community Services, 401 Vienna Avenue, Niles, Ohio 44446; Lordstown Christian Church Memorial Fund, 6370 Tod Avenue SW, Warren, Ohio 44481; or the Christian Church Foundation, Week of Compassion - Ann Wilson Oakes Permanent Endowment Fund, P.O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206.

Arrangements by Holeton-Yuhasz Funeral Home 126 West Park Avenue, Niles, Ohio 44446. Visit to view this tribute and share condolences.

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Funeral Service
April 23, 2022

11:30 AM
Niles First Christian Church (Trumbull County, Vienna Avenue, Ohio)

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