Rev. Dr. Bernard M. Oakes 1930-2022 | News, Sports, Work


NILES – Rev. Dr. Bernard M. Oakes, 91, passed away peacefully at 12:07 pm on Sunday, April 10, 2022, at the Niles Continuing Health Care, after a brief illness.

He was born November 9, 1930, the second son and third child of Joseph M. and Mertie B. Lilly Oakes.

Bernard was a 1948 graduate of Princeton High School (W.Va.) and a 1952 graduate of Bethany College (W.Va.). While at Bethany, he was a three-year-old football writer and co-captain of the team in his junior year. He was also the co-captain of his beginner basketball team, a four-year writer on the track and field, and the co-captain of the 1952 athletics team, which finished second in the Tri-State competition. They also won the W.Va intercollegiate track and field title. in 1952.

In February of his final year, Bernard saw a freshman girl playing the clarinet in the college band and learned that her name was Ann Wilson. He called her and as was customary on that small campus, she accepted an invitation to a campus meeting that Friday night. Two and a half months later, they got engaged and married two years and two months later.

Rev. Dr. Oakes was ordained June 8, 1952, in the early hours of the morning before graduating from Bethany College to the old historic church where Bethany founder Alexander Campbell had been a preacher. A week later, the Rev. Oakes was ordained again at his home church in Princeton, W.Va.

Bernard went to Lexington, KY, to graduate from the seminary and received his degree from the Lexington Theological Seminary in May 1955. His wife, Ann, received her degree from the University of Kentucky that same week. In 1973, he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Lexington Theological Seminary, and in 1994, he was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Deity by Bethany College, his Alma Mater.

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

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

One of Bernard’s most proud professional achievements was his relationship with the ecumenical community through co-founding and chairing (with Vindicator reporter Tom Murphy) the Niles Interfaith Banquet. That effort continues to strive to bring cooperation and understanding between Protestants and Catholics in the Nile area and to reinforce the dream of his beloved friend, the late Rev. Fr. At Nicholas Arioli. It has resulted in the formation of the Nile Clergy Association, two housing projects for seniors, Central Park Apartments and Edison Place, honoring many young Christians and the more open spirit of the Christian community. This banquet continues today the second Sunday after Easter.

Through these efforts, Rev. Dr. Oakes has received awards from the Nile Eagles Brotherhood Order, Columbus Nile Knights, the Masonic Brotherhood Order Sincerity Lodge, the Nile Churches for Housing, and Interfaith Banks. He has been Carmen DeChristofaro Citizen of the Year by Niles Jaycees. He has provided 40 years of service to the American Red Cross, was a 16-gallon blood donor, and a longtime member of the Nile Community Services board.

In 2003, Rev. Dr. Oakes was inducted into the Niles McKinley High School Alumni Hall of Fame Hall of Fame. He was honored for his 50th jubilee of ordination, as a retired trustee of the Niles Churches for Housing, and as a retired trustee of the Trumbull County Mental Health Board. Dr. Oakes was of the YSU Philosophical Circle, has received a Ministerial stake honored by the First Nile Christian Church, and has held numerous offices in the state and national activity of his naming. His last religious duty was as a Regional Elder.

Rev. Dr. Oakes has held numerous offices at the Clarksburg and Niles Kiwanis clubs and has been a member of the Niles Frontliners Club. He was a former member and chairman of the Nile Planning Commission, a former member and chairman of the Nile Zoning Board, and a member of the Air Wing 910 Basic Community Council at Vienna Air Base. Rev. Dr. Oakes was a member and chair of the Niles Community Services, a trustee of the Trumbull County Mental Health Association, a board member of the Trumbull County Family Service, and an executive member of the United Way Fund of Trumbull County.

Bernard has left behind his daughter, Melody Oakes of Niles; bride, Christine E. Oakes Wendland (Dave) of Wisconsin; three grandchildren, Rebekah E. (Dan) Gesch, Daniel Mark Oakes and Hannah Colette Schmidt; and two great-grandchildren, Danny and Evey Gesch.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Ann V. Wilson Oakes, whom he married June 14, 1954, and who died March 20, 2014; son, Mark Luther Oakes, who died June 11, 2005; and his extended family.

Call hours will be from 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 22, 2022, at Lordstown Christian Church. Burial will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 23, 2022, at the First Nile Christian Church, with telephone hours at the Nile church from 10 a.m. until service time. Rev. Allen V. Harris and Rev. Christopher Stark will perform the task.

His cremated remains will be buried at a later date in Roselawn Cemetery, Princeton, W.Va., next to his beloved wife, son and other members of the Oakes family.

In lieu of flowers, commemorative contributions may be made to Niles Community Services, 401 Vienna Ave., Niles, OH 44446; Lordstown Christian Church Memorial Fund, 6370 Tod Ave SW, Warren, OH 44481; or Christian Church Foundation, Compassion Week – Ann Wilson Oakes Permanent Relief Fund, Mailbox 1986 Indianapolis, IN 46206.

Arrangements by Holeton-Yuhasz Funeral Home, 126 W. Park Ave., Niles, OH 44446. Visit www. to view this tribute and share the condolences.

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