Published DateGILFORD — The Rev. James C. Rupert of Gilford, a Methodist minister, musician, sociology professor and businessman, died of cancer at his home on Feb. 2. Rupert, who was 80, moved to Gilford in 1980 with his wife, Faith, who taught English and theater for 16 years at Gilford High School.
Rupert was born in 1932 in Chelyan, a village in West Virginia coal-mining country. His father was an engineer for the electric company and his mother the local church organist. She played at the Sunday morning service hours before his birth.
After graduating from high school in Morgantown, WV, Rupert served in the U.S. Air Force from 1950 to 1955, serving most of that time in Germany.
In 1956, he married Faith Crowson in Charleston, WV and earned a bachelor's degree there at Morris Harvey College.
Rupert was ordained a Methodist minister in 1963 after receiving his degree in divinity at Drew Theological Seminary in New Jersey. He served as the principal organist of the New Jersey conference of the Methodist church, performing works by Bach, Beethoven, Widor and others.
As a pastor, Rupert supported the 1960s civil rights movement, leading a church group to join the August 1963 March on Washington that included Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
In 1967, Rupert was the pastor at the main Methodist church in Salem, a small town in southernmost New Jersey. Amid the advances of the civil rights movement, white supremacists burned crosses in the county to intimidate blacks and oppose racial integration.
Rupert worked with a few other prominent white citizens and the local NAACP chapter to lead public protests against the cross burnings. The following year, the church transferred him out of his job, and he soon after left the active ministry.
Rupert joined the faculty of New Jersey's Gloucester County College to teach sociology. He received a master's degree in education from Temple University in 1972.
Rupert sang as the tenor soloist in a Gloucester County College performance of Messiah by Handel. In a local stage performance of The Sound of Music, he played the lead male role, as Capt. Georg Von Trapp.
In 1977, the Ruperts moved to Weirs Beach, NH to purchase and run the former Look Off Rock Motel on Scenic Drive. In the 1980s they moved to Liberty Hill Road in Gilford and joined the Gilford Community Church, where Rupert often preached and played the organ.
Rupert is survived by Faith, his wife of 57 years. He also is survived by three children – James Rupert of Falls Church, VA, Elizabeth Pilling of Gilford, and Mark Rupert of Boulder, CO — and by five grandchildren.
The Gilford Community Church will hold a memorial service on Saturday, Feb. 9, at 11 a.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the church, or to organizations supporting research on Alzheimer's disease.