PG NewsPG delivery
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Home Page
PG News: Nation and World, Region and State, Neighborhoods, Business, Sports, Health and Science, Magazine, Forum
Sports: Headlines, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Collegiate, Scholastic
Lifestyle: Columnists, Food, Homes, Restaurants, Gardening, Travel, SEEN, Consumer, Pets
Arts and Entertainment: Movies, TV, Music, Books, Crossword, Lottery
Photo Journal: Post-Gazette photos
AP Wire: News and sports from the Associated Press
Business: Business: Business and Technology News, Personal Business, Consumer, Interact, Stock Quotes, PG Benchmarks, PG on Wheels
Classifieds: Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Celebrations and other Post-Gazette Classifieds
Web Extras: Marketplace, Bridal, Headlines by Email, Postcards
Weather: AccuWeather Forecast, Conditions, National Weather, Almanac
Health & Science: Health, Science and Environment
Search: Search by keyword or date
PG Store: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merchandise
PG Delivery: Home Delivery, Back Copies, Mail Subscriptions


Headlines by E-mail

Headlines Region & State Neighborhoods Business
Sports Health & Science Magazine Forum

Obituary: Robert Bracewell Appleyard, Retired Bishop of Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese

Wednesday, October 27, 1999

By Cindi Lash, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

His tenure here was a time of social change, and his social conscience pushed him to speak out for women, minorities and humble working people.

With a gentle, dignified demeanor and an ability to build bridges between disparate groups, he was as at home in a poor, urban neighborhood as he was in the office of a wealthy corporate leader.

Retired Bishop Robert Bracewell Appleyard, who headed the Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese from 1968 through 1982, died yesterday of heart failure in Chester, Conn. He was 81.

The bishop had been bedridden for several months before his death, but he remained concerned about friends and interested in causes he'd worked for, said Bishop Robert William Duncan, who now heads Pittsburgh's Episcopal Diocese.

"Bishop Appleyard was one of the most gracious and loving men I knew," Duncan said yesterday. "In a visit with him just a month ago as he sat in bed, his main concern was how to help me, which was classic for him. He was passionately committed to racial reconciliation. He never lost his good, positive spirit and never lost his faith."

Bishop Appleyard was born in Jamestown, N.Y., where he was raised as a Methodist. He graduated in 1940 from Allegheny College in Meadville and from Union Theological Seminary in 1943.

Ordained as a Methodist minister, he became a U.S. Navy chaplain during World War II. While in Brisbane, Australia, he decided to become an Episcopalian. He made his confirmation in New Guinea and was the only person who spoke English in the confirmation class of 60.

After the war, he returned to the seminary and was ordained a deacon and a priest in 1947. He also was an assistant dean of students there.

Before coming to Pittsburgh, Bishop Appleyard was rector of Christ Church in Watertown, Conn., Christ Church in Greenwich, Conn., and Bethesda-by-the-Sea Church in Palm Beach, Fla. While in Greenwich, he was treated for a severe bout of depression, which he later said helped him to broaden his ministry to others with emotional problems.

Bishop Appleyard was the fifth Episcopal bishop of Pittsburgh, serving during a time of racial turmoil and war protests across the nation as well as tumultuous change in the church.

He was the first Episcopal bishop to be consecrated in a Catholic church. He arrived in Pittsburgh just after Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Downtown, had been damaged by fire, so the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh gave permission for his consecration to be held in St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.

While in Pittsburgh, Bishop Appleyard supported the ordination of women priests when the idea was still controversial and he later ordained six women. He made frequent calls for racial unity, worked to resolve numerous labor disputes and, in the early 1980s, spoke out against plant closings that resulted in high unemployment in the area.

"He helped to bring about real intimacy among denominations," said the Rev. Arnold W. Klukas, who was ordained by Bishop Appleyard in 1975 and now is rector of Grace Episcopal Church on Mount Washington.

"He helped to start a prayer breakfast for clergy that still meets today. He had a real social conscience and stood up for things even when it was uncomfortable to do so," Klukas said. "He was a bridge person between the movers and shakers and heads of corporations and the urban poor. He could go to anyone and talk with them about things that concerned him."

Bishop Appleyard also helped to revise the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and was a leader in accepting gays and lesbians in the life of the church, diocesan officials said. His conciliatory approach, however, usually prevented differences of opinion from becoming major breaches within the diocese.

After stepping down as head of the 11-county diocese here, Bishop Appleyard and his wife, Evans City native Katherine Gelbach Appleyard, retired to a cottage in Weekapaug, R.I.. But within months he accepted an assignment in Paris as head of the American Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe until 1986.

He later spent a year as assistant bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut. He also was chairman of the General Theological Seminary in New York, chairman of the Episcopal Church Building Fund and a member of the church's board of theological education and other church committees.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three sons, the Rev. Robert B. Appleyard Jr., the Rev. Jonathan A. Appleyard and the Rev. Daniel S. Appleyard; one daughter, Jane Appleyard Roel; one brother, John S. Appleyard; one sister, Elizabeth A. Hall; and eight grandchildren.

A service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Ann Church, Old Lyme, Conn. A memorial service and requiem also will be held in Pittsburgh, but a date has not been set.

bottom navigation bar Terms of Use  Privacy Policy