Msgr. Thomas B. Dade, pastor emeritus of St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church in Riverdale and a former ship's chaplain, died of heart failure Sunday at Doctor's Hospital in Lanham. He was 89.
He marked his 60th year as a priest in May with a celebration at St. Bernard's, where he had been appointed rector in 1950. His major accomplishments there included the building of a parish school in 1951 and a social hall, the Crystal Room, in 1952.
He founded the Catholic Police and Firemen's Society in 1934 and was chaplain of the Washington, D.C., police and fire departments from 1934 to 1959. During World War II, he was the USO director for the Washington area.
Interested in youth activities, he was appointed director of the Catholic Youth Organization for the Washington area in 1948.
Born and reared on McDonogh Street in East Baltimore, where his family belonged to the parish of St. James the Less, he attended St. James Parochial School, St. Charles College and St. Mary's Seminary on Roland Avenue.
Ordained a priest in 1934 by Archbishop Michael Curley in the Basilica of the Assumption, he was assistant pastor of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Washington from 1934 to 1950. He was named a monsignor in 1958.
"When he was growing up he always felt that God wanted him to devote his life to the service of God, and he never had any doubt about doing that," said a niece, Bernadette Fowler of Crofton.
The Rev. Maurice O'Connell, pastor of St. Bernard's, said, "He was the perfect example of what a priest should be -- the shepherd of his parish. He loved being around priests, and he was so popular that the table in the rectory was always full of priests whom he regaled with funny stories -- mostly about himself."
"He loved coming to Baltimore to visit his old church, St. James the Less at Aisquith and Eager streets, which is now closed," said the Rev. Michael J. Roach, pastor of West Baltimore's St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church. "He found the place where he said his first Mass very inspirational. He never lost contact with his Baltimore roots."
Fond of sea cruises, he sailed during the 1970s and 1980s as a chaplain aboard the ships of the Holland-America Line. "He was known for his number of conversions and bringing back those who wandered away from the faith while he worked aboard ship," Mrs. Fowler said.
Fond of family gatherings and parties, he also was an inveterate card player.
Every Wednesday, he would arrive at Mrs. Fowler's Crofton home to play gin with a group of friends. "It was the highlight of his week," said his niece.
"He loved to organize retreats where we prayed and played cards," Father O'Connell said, laughing.
"To say that he touched and influenced thousands and thousands of lives would not be an exaggeration," said Mrs. Fowler.
A Mass of Christian burial was to be offered at 11 a.m. today at St. Bernard's in Riverdale, with interment in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring.
In addition to his niece, survivors include a brother, Myron "Lefty" Dade of Port Deposit; four nephews, James B. Hindle of Parkville, Joseph H. Hindle and Eugene P. Hindle, both of St. Cloud, Fla., and Thomas B. Dade of Virginia; and three other nieces, Marguerite Hyce of Bethany Beach, Del., Elizabeth Burke of Baltimore, and Juanita Burkhart of Port Deposit.