The Rev. William H. Webster, 83, of Mount Laurel, a Baptist minister who served congregations in New York state, Rhode Island, and northern New Jersey, died of congestive heart failure Sunday, April 20, at the retirement community Cadbury at Cherry Hill.

In retirement, Mr. Webster "was the moderator of our church," the First Baptist Church of Moorestown, "which meant he conducted the business meetings" for about the last five years, Hal Cooper, of Mount Laurel, said in a phone interview.

Cooper is a former treasurer of the board of national ministries at the American Baptist Churches USA headquarters in Valley Forge.

Cooper said he and his wife knew Mr. Webster and his wife at Mr. Webster's first pastorate, the First Baptist Church in Sanborn, N.Y., a hamlet near Niagara Falls.

"We shared a love of music," Cooper said, so the couples sang together in the church choir.

More than that, Cooper said, Mr. Webster "instituted a Sunday school class for young marrieds. He was quite good with that. In our tradition, adult classes are quite prevalent."

And, he said, "we've kept in touch ever since."

Born in Upstate New York, Mr. Webster earned a bachelor's at Alfred (N.Y.) University in 1953 and graduated from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y., in 1957.

After serving as pastor in Sanborn, he led the congregation at the First Baptist Church in Morristown, Morris County, until 1977.

Mr. Webster's pastorate at the First Baptist Church in Wickford, R.I., was his longest, 13 years, until he retired in 1996.

Though retired from the Wickford church, "he continued to serve, to work with the church as a member, for five or six years, before moving to Mount Laurel," his daughter Conni Webster said in a phone interview.

"American Baptist ministers move of their own choice" from pastorate to pastorate, she said, so "he was looking for new challenges" with each congregation.

"Each church was very different," she said.

But at both Morristown and Wickford, she said, "he was involved in the interdenominational groups with rabbis and priests." Sanborn had been too small a town to have such a group when he was there, she said.

Besides his daughter Conni, Mr. Webster is survived by sons Michael and Daniel, daughter Cynthia Tranquilli, two sisters, seven grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. He was predeceased by his wife, Lola, and by a sister.

A memorial service was set for 11 a.m. Saturday, May 10, at the First Baptist Church, 19 W. Main St., Moorestown, Burlington County 08057. Interment is to be private.

Donations may be sent to the church at the above address or at

Condolences may be offered to the family at