Retired Northwestern Pennsylvania Bishop Donald Davis dies at 78

September 10, 2007

Retired Bishop Donald J. Davis of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania died on August 30. He was 78.

Davis had been living in Sarasota, Florida and reportedly suffered from a blood disorder.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. on September 29 at St. Boniface Episcopal Church on Siesta Key, Florida.

Davis was born March 12, 1929 in Newcastle, Pennsylvania, to Rya and LeRoy Davis and was raised in Frederick, Maryland. He graduated from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania in 1949 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1952. Bishop Angus Dun ordained him a deacon and priest in 1955 at Washington National Cathedral. Davis also received a master's degree from Bowling Green University and an honorary doctor of divinity from Westminster College.

He served churches and other parochial and diocesan ministries in the dioceses of Washington, Indianapolis and Ohio before being elected the sixth Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania in 1973. Davis served as coadjutor in 1973 and 1974, and then succeeded Bishop William Crittenden. He retired April 1, 1991.

On January 1, 1977, Davis ordained Jacqueline Means, the first woman to be made a priest in the Episcopal Church under a new canon which had been approved by the General Convention September 16, 1976 in Minneapolis. Davis ordained Means in All Saints Episcopal Church in Indianapolis, substituting at the last minute for Bishop John P. Craine who was hospitalized. Davis and Craine had been among the 67 bishops who sponsored the General Convention resolution to allow women to be ordained.
Earlier in 1976, Davis served on the Women's Employment Project Committee, which proposed that the Episcopal Church appoint an "Officer for the Employment of Women in Ministry" who would "assist the employment of women in ministry prior to the Minnesota General Convention this fall and whether or not women are admitted to priesthood and episcopacy."

Davis served on what was then called the Standing Commission on Church Music when it announced in 1977 that it would ask the 1979 General Convention to authorize a revision of the 1940 version of the church's hymnal. The result is The Hymnal 1982, which is still one of the Episcopal Church's authorized hymnals.
He chaired a number of committees while in the House of Bishops and traveled to many developing countries while serving on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church.

After retirement, Davis, a tenor, sang in church choirs in Sarasota and Venice, Florida, often as a soloist.

Davis is survived by his wife Mary Gray, whom he married September 6, 1952; sons, Stewart of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Addison of Sarasota, Florida; daughter, Kristin Gray of Oviedo, Florida; brother, LeRoy T. Davis of Frederick, Maryland; three grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions in memory of Donald Davis may be made to Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation, U.T.C. Fund, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612, or the charity of the contributor's choice.