Virus Apparently Claims Retired Episcopal Priest

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: COVID-19

Though the news could not be confirmed through public health channels, the COVID-19 virus has apparently claimed the life of an 88-year-old Brewster man who was formerly a parishioner at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church of Chatham.

According to the Rev. Brian McGurk, rector at St. Christopher’s, the Rev. Dr. Richard Ottaway, an Episcopal priest and college professor, died Sunday night at Cape Cod Hospital as as result of COVID-19. Rev. Ottaway was previously a member of St. Christopher's who joined Christ Church Episcopal of Harwich Port about 10 years ago to assist their rector on a regular basis.

According to McGurk, Rev. Ottaway’s wife confirmed that her husband had tested positive for the virus.

“She is not hiding this fact,” McGurk said. “She wants us all to know that COVID-19 is a very real fact here on the Cape.”

Over the telephone, McGurk was able to pray a final blessing for his friend.

“The nurse at the desk at CCH and the bedside nurse were extremely accommodating. After I said the final blessing, the nurse holding the phone said, ‘We really appreciate this.’” McGurk said. “A nurse also brought him a bible to hold during his final day, since family could not be present. Neither a priest.”

Because of medical privacy laws, public health officials are unable to confirm the identities of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. While a county health official reported Tuesday that there were no confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on Cape Cod, such information is sometimes delayed by several days because of the reporting process.

This article was corrected to indicate that Rev. Ottaway was a former parishioner at St. Christopher's. He has not been present for services or activities in Chatham for nearly a decade.