Former Idaho Bishop Harry Brown Bainbridge dies at 70

May 28, 2010

Harry Brown Bainbridge III, 12th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Idaho, died May 27 at the Talbot Hospice Guest House in Easton, Maryland. Bainbridge had battled lung cancer and heart complications since 2007. He was 70.

Bainbridge was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, July 25, 1939, to Harry Brown Bainbridge II and Grace (Bainbridge) Holt. He grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and attended the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, receiving a bachelor of arts degree in 1961. Bainbridge married Katherine (Kit) Turnbull on June 19, 1963.


Following three years of service in the U.S. Navy, he returned to Sewanee, where he received his master of divinity in 1967. In 1982 he earned a doctorate of ministry from Sewanee, and was awarded an honorary degree there in 1999.


During his first six years of ordained ministry, Bainbridge served in three congregations in the Diocese of Tennessee: as deacon-in-training at Holy Trinity Church, Memphis (1967-68), as priest-in-charge of St. Mary Magdalene Church, Fayetteville (1968-70), and as priest-in-charge of St. Thomas' Church, Knoxville (1970-73). While in Fayetteville, he served as a founding director of the Multi-County Mental Health Center in Tullahoma, and during his tenure in Knoxville, he began a five-year stint as executive director of the diocesan camping program at Camp Gailor-Maxon. In 1973, he returned to Sewanee as assistant chaplain, with primary responsibility as chaplain and teacher of religion at the Sewanee Academy. He also served in the University Chapel and spent four years as adjunct faculty at the School of Theology.


After six years on the staff at Sewanee, he returned to parish ministry in 1979. He served as rector of St. Thomas' Church and as the Episcopal chaplain of Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe. In February 1988, he became rector of Christ Church, Easton, serving there until May 1998. With the retirement of his predecessor, he became bishop of Idaho Nov. 1, 1998, overseeing 29 congregations across southern Idaho.


Beyond the diocese, Bainbridge served on the Standing Commission on Ministry Development of the Episcopal Church, and as president of Province VIII, which includes dioceses in the western United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, and Taiwan. Under Bainbridge's leadership, a new diocesan center was constructed for the Episcopal Church in Idaho, opening in 2007.


Bainbridge joined Episcopal Relief & Development's board of directors in 2001, serving as board chair from 2003 – 2008. During his tenure, the organization grew from a small granting program of the church to a large relief and development agency, serving the needs of more than 2 million people annually.


He was elected chair emeritus by the executive committee of Episcopal Relief & Development's board of directors in March 2010.


"Harry embodied Jesus' love and compassion in his service to Episcopal Relief & Development," said Bishop Robert O'Neill, chair of Episcopal Relief & Development's board. "On behalf of our staff and board, I extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Kit, the entire Bainbridge family and his many friends and colleagues around the church. May the peace of Christ surround us during this time of grief."


Many Episcopal Relief & Development staff members affectionately called Bainbridge "Bishop Harry."


"I am profoundly saddened by Bishop Harry's death. He played a critical role in the life of this organization and served as a personal mentor and friend to me," said Rob Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. "Harry was a wonderful man whose love, humor, humility and numerous contributions will remain with all of us."


Bainbridge is survived by his wife, his mother, and his two children, Harry Bainbridge IV and Elizabeth Bainbridge. He is also survived by 3 grandchildren.


In lieu of flowers, the Bainbridge family requests that memorial contributions be made to Episcopal Relief & Development, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, Virginia, 22116-7058 or (800) 334-7676 ext. 5129 and the Talbot Hospice Foundation, 586 Cynwood Drive, Easton, Maryland, 21601-3805.

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