IN MEMORIAM: The Rev. Hébert W. Bolles '51


The Rev. Hébert Winslow Bolles (Class of 1951), died peacefully at home in Portsmouth, R.I., surrounded by his family after a long illness on April 6, at the age of 88. He was the father of the Rev. Anne Bolles-Beaven (Class of 1988), and the husband of Elizabeth (Bambi) Sands Elliot who was, in every way, his life partner. Known for his kindness, compassion and love of the Lord, Hébert was born in New York City on September 30, 1924, the son of Norman Taylor Bolles and Mary Winslow Hébert. He attended Trinity School, New York City and Brown University in the Naval ROTC program, graduating a commissioned ensign in February 1944.  He served aboard the USS LST 742 in the South Pacific during World War II.  He returned to Brown in 1946, earning a MA in Biblical Literature.  After receiving an M.Div. from General, he was ordained a priest by the Rt. Rev. Granville G. Bennett on October 4, 1951.

Hébert served as curate of St. Stephen’s Providence, then Chaplain to Brown and RISD students before he became rector of Ascension Wakefield 1953-57.  He married Elizabeth Sands Elliot on June 4, 1955 at Trinity Church, Newport, RI.  He was called to be the Canon Pastor of Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis from 1957-62.

In 1962, Hébert returned to active duty as a Chaplain for the destroyer Squadron DESDIV 122 in Newport, RI, a highlight being the last "Good Will Cruise" circumnavigating Africa in 1963.  He considered it to be, “the finest of what the military is about.” He was the Chaplain at the Chelsea Naval Hospital in Boston. He served as Battalion Chaplain of the 2/26 Marines in Vietnam, 1966-67 and was awarded the Bronze Star with a combat “V.” Beginning in 1968, he was stationed at NAS Norfolk, VA, then at Argentia, Newfoundland, and finally served as the Senior Chaplain at NETC Newport, RI.  He retired from the Navy as a Captain in 1979 with an abiding love of ships, African elephants and a sense that, “we’re all in this together.”

Hébert was a member of the Rhode Island Diocesan Standing Committee. He was the Ecumenical Officer from 1984-89, and an instructor at the School for Deacons 1982-91, a ministry to which he was deeply committed. Hébert served as interim at St. Paul’s Portsmouth, St. Michael’s Bristol and, later, was Vicar of St. Andrew’s Little Compton 1989-94. He was the Chaplain to Retired Clergy and Widows. All the while, he joyfully celebrated monthly Eucharists at the John Clark Nursing Home and he was a frequent pastoral presence at Newport Hospital for over 40 years. To the end, he exuded the same cheerfulness and generosity of spirit that marked his life throughout.

In addition to Bambi, his wife of 57 years, he leaves behind his four children: Elliot Foster Bolles of Stafford, VA, the Rev. Anne Elizabeth Bolles-Beaven of Maplewood, NJ, Paul Hébert Bolles of Manhattan, NY, and M. Katherine (Kate) Bragan of Portsmouth, RI.  He delighted in his grandchildren: Emma Sands and William Norman Bolles-Beaven of Maplewood, NJ, Stephen Parnell and Allison Lynn Bolles of Stafford, VA, Gwenyth Sands and Lila Foster Bragan of Portsmouth, RI, Julia, Morgan and Jacob Caldwell of Stafford, VA.

Hébert's funeral was held at Trinity Church, Newport, R.I. His burial, with full military honors, was at his home parish of St. Columba's Chapel, Middletown, R.I.