Retired Spokane bishop dies at 90

May 28, 2004

The Rt. Rev. John "Jack" Wyatt, retired bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, died on Sunday, May 23. A memorial service will be held at Holy Trinity Church in Menlo Park, California on June 7 at 4 p.m.

Wyatt was born on October 14, 1913 in Lansford, Pennsylvania. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Lehigh University in 1935 and from the General Theological Seminary in 1938. Wyatt was ordained to the diaconate on June 12, 1938 and to the priesthood on March 1, 1939. Wyatt married Nellie Mae Tomkins in 1939, with whom he later had three children and who preceded him in death.

He served as curate of St. John's Church in Larchmont, New York, from 1938-1941. Wyatt subsequently served four parishes as rector: Church of the Ascension, Wakefield, Rhode Island from 1941 to 1948; Trinity Parish, Seattle, Washington from 1950-1957; and Trinity Parish, Menlo Park, California from 1957 to 1967. On May 2, 1967, Wyatt was consecrated the first bishop of Spokane, the diocese having been served by missionary bishops prior to his election.

Wyatt's work in the diocese was characterized by an ability to bring people together. He could most often be found in the field, with his parishes, guiding the diocese through times of conflict and great change: the war in Vietnam, the ordination of women, the prayer book revision. Wyatt was known for his work in creating better church processes, on both the diocesan and national levels. He was one of the first bishops to advocate and support a uniform search process for clergy seeking parishes, and helped develop a retirement planning process for clergy and spouses. When he retired in 1979, Wyatt's parting gift to each church in the diocese was a needlepoint worked by his wife, Peg, and him which captured the unique personality of the parish.

Wyatt is survived by his wife of 29 years, Margaret "Peg" Moltzen. Letters of condolence may be sent to Mrs. Wyatt at 501 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA 94028-7601.

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