The Rev. Henry G. Birkhead, 82, a Roman Catholic priest and teacher at several schools, including Cardinal Dougherty High School, died of heart failure Sunday at Villa St. Joseph in Darby.
Born in Philadelphia, Father Birkhead graduated from St. John the Baptist High School in Manayunk in 1943. He joined the Coast Guard and served during World War II, said Sister Helen Victor, a friend.
"After the Coast Guard, he worked for one year as an accountant in Center City before entering St. Charles Borromeo Seminary," she said.
Father Birkhead was ordained in 1956 at Immaculate Conception Church in Germantown.
He began his career as a vicar at Annunciation Parish in Shenandoah, a once-booming anthracite-coal town in Schuylkill County, before being transferred to St. Mary's Parish in Hamburg, Berks County.
Father Birkhead began teaching at St. James High School in Chester in 1957. In 1963, he joined the faculty at Cardinal Dougherty, teaching a variety of subjects and grades before leaving in to 1984 to become parochial administrator at Christ the King Parish in Northeast Philadelphia. Three years later, he was named pastor at Christ the King.
"Father Birkhead ministered to the sick at Frankford-Torresdale Hospital and raised funds for the parish by organizing a winter carnival each year," said Sister Helen. "He refurbished Christ the King Church with new carpeting, pews, and had stained glass moved from the former Our Lady of Pompeii Church at Seventh and Erie Streets." He retired in 2000.
Father Birkhead had no immediate survivors.