Biographical Sketch of Oliver Read Whitley
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Oliver Read Whitley
Photo of Oliver Read Whitley

Oliver Read Whitley was born in Lebanon Missouri, on October 21, 1918. He received his B.A. from Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, in 1940, and his M.A. from Drake in 1941. After this, he moved to Yale University, where he received his B.D. in 1944. He went on to doctoral work at Yale, receiving his Ph.D. in 1952; his dissertation was entitled, The Theory of Religion in American Sociology.

From 1944-47, Dr. Whitley served as U.S. Navy Chaplain, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant, and officially disable as a result of active duty.

He was ordained as a Disciple of Christ minister, and also was recognized as a minister of the United Church of Christ.

Dr. Whitley became Assistant Professor at Park College, Missour, in 1952. He moved to Phillips University, Enid, Oklahoma, in 1953 as Associate Professor, later becoming a full Professor, and remaining there until 1956. He became Associate Professor at the Iliff School of Theology in 1956, and was Professor at Iliff from 1959-1978. He received an American Association of Theological Schools Fellowship in 1962-63. Dr. Whitley was Professor of Sociology of Religion, Director of Advanced Degrees, and the Secretary of the Faculty at the time of his death.

In addition, Dr. Whitley was active in several professional organizations. He was a member of the American Sociological Association, the Religious Research Association, the American Association of University Professors, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Association of Disciples for Theological Discussion.

Dr. Whitley was the author of three books: Trumpet Call to Reformation (1958; winner of Bethany Press Manuscript Award); Religious Behavior: Where Sociology and Religion Meet (1964); and Church: Mirror or Window? (1969). In addition, he published numerous articles in scholarly periodicals and academic journals. Dr. Whitley died July 30, 1978, at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, following a heart attack.

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© 2002. Marshall Eidson