Felton Robertson, OFM
1911 – 1999
Fr. J. Felton (Alexis) Robertson, OFM, was born July 13, 1911 in Bleeker, Ala. The family moved to Statesville, N.C., where Fr. Jim attended grammar and high school while being mentored by Fr. Arnold Walters, OFM, pastor of the Franciscan parish there. Fr. Arnold instructed Fr. Jim twice in the Catholic faith, but to no avail.
Fr. Jim moved to Newport News, Va., to work in the design department of a shipyard. There, he met Fr. James Widmer, OFM, who instructed him for a third time and baptized him in 1933. Fr. Jim was 22 years old. He attended St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., in 1938 and entered the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1941, taking the name Alexis. Fr. Alexis professed temporary vows one year later, made his solemn profession in 1945 and was ordained in 1947.
His first assignment was to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City. One year later, he returned to The Catholic University, Washington, to finish a master of fine arts degree, prior to joining the faculty as an instructor. From 1949 to 1959, he lived at Holy Name College and developed a reputation among the clerics as an encouraging friend.
Between 1959 and 1962, Fr. Alexis did pastoral work at Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and Winston-Salem and Asheville, N.C., before accepting an appointment to the arts faculty at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y. He served there for the next 14 years. Along the way, he began using the name Felton.
In 1986, at age 75, he moved back to St. Francis Church in Manhattan. He remained semi-active, especially in confessional ministry, until 1995, when he officially retired to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J.
He died on Jan. 29, 1999 at St. Joseph Hospital, Paterson, N.J. Fr. Felton was 87 years old, a professed friar for 56 years and a priest for 51 years.