Farm Accident Claims Life of Former Area Priest
By Randy Griffith
WILLIAMSBURG — A former Cambria County priest was killed Wednesday in a tractor accident on his family farm just outside this Blair County borough.
The Rev. Elwood Figurelle, 75, was pastor from 1979-95 of St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church in St. Michael.
Figurelle was arrested in 2004 and spent time in federal prison after pleading guilty to illegally downloading obscene materials involving young boys.
Just after 1 p.m. Wednesday, Figurelle was operating a tractor on his Clover Creek Road property when he lost control of the equipment, state police said.
The tractor rolled down an embankment, landing on its roof and pinning Figurelle.
Figurelle was rushed to Altoona Regional Medical Center, where he died later that day, Blair County Coroner Patty Ross said.
A 1951 graduate of Williamsburg High School, Figurelle served in the Air Force during the Korean War.
He went on to graduate from St. Francis College in Loretto and was ordained from St. Francis Seminary on May 18, 1963.
His assignments for 45 years included St. Mary, St. Leo and St. Rose of Lima Catholic churches, all in Altoona; St. Joseph Church in Renovo; St. Michael Church in West Salisbury; St. Mary Church in Pocahontas; and St. Catherine Church in Mount Union.
He resigned from St. Catherine following his arrest in 2003.
Figurelle came to the attention of the FBI after he had taken his computer to a Huntingdon County store for service.
Store employees found the pornographic materials on the computer's hard drive and called the authorities.
Despite his criminal conviction, Figurelle is fondly remembered at St. Michael Church, longtime member Magdalene Plummer said.
"He was a great priest," Plummer said. "He remodeled everything. He took care of the grounds himself."
A talented craftsman, Figurelle did much of the woodwork inside the church buildings during remodeling work.
He also refurbished grandfather clocks, Plummer said.
"Every year, he gave one to the Women's Guild to chance off," she said.
Figurelle also spearheaded work that transformed a hillside behind St. Michael Church into a representation of Jerusalem's Mount Calvary. He crafted representations of the 14 Stations of the Cross that encourage members of the Catholic Church to recall Christ's final hours.
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