Marie A. Oldham, widow of Bishop William Fitzjames Oldham, died October 12th at the age of eighty-one, and was buried beside her husband in Forest Lawn, Glendale, California.
Born in Banglore, India, Marie Oldham came from a fine Christian family, and it was at the evangelistic meeting to which he went “out of curiosity” that William Oldham first saw his future bride. After he had decided to dedicate his life to God’s service it was natural that he should become acquainted with the young girl who was so much intersted in all the church was doing. Three years later they were married and when later the Mission decided that Oldham should go to America to study. Mrs. Oldham urged him to go, though it meant a long separation. After three years she, too, went to America, where she spent her time studying and acquainting the women of America with conditions in far-off and little known India.
When the Oldhams returned to India, supposing that he would be given a school some place in India, they were told that they had been appointed to open work in Singapore. The announcement was a blow, and Dr. Thoburn asked, “Will you go?”
It was Marie Oldham who answered, “Doctor Thoburn, if we are appointed to Singapore, we will go to Singapore.”
That was characteristic of Mrs. Oldham and one can appreciate the sincerity of Bishop Oldham’s opening sentence in his address given on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday:
“Let me begin by saying that this is Mrs. Oldham—and she is the secret of the family.”
Only a brave woman would have been willing to go to Singapore under the circumstances “Make your own way.” Yet she rose to the challenge, as she did to every challenge that came to them.
The name Oldham is revered in Malaya as much for Marie Oldham as for Bishop Oldham, and the same is true in South America and in the United States. She was a tiny lady, not reaching her husband’s shoulder, but full of energy and vivacity, practical yet sympathetic.
In 1934 when permission was asked to dedicate “Malaysia Mosaic” to Bishop Oldham, his answer came back: “I would make one alteration, and that is that you add the name of Marie A. Oldham to mine. The work could not have been done without her.”
During the last years of his life, Bishop Oldham was an invalid and the Oldhams returned to Bangalore to live. Mrs. Oldham nursed her husband with untiring devotion and when they came to Malaya to celebrate the fiftheth anniversary of the founding of the Mission people were amazed at the strength of that frail little lady of seventy-seven.
From Malaya the Oldhams went to America, their adopted country, to live in the mild climate of southern California. During the last five months Mrs. Oldham was confined to her bed and she was unaware that God had called her husband home.
Bishop Oldham ended his address nine years ago, “And after I have gone, the span of my years will be surpassed by this dear little lady who sits by my side.” But not for long, for only a few short months separated them.
The Malaysia Message
Vol. 48 No. 12