Retired Rio Grande bishop memorialized

March 7, 2005

Richard Mitchell Trelease Jr., retired bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, was honored March 3 at a memorial service held at the Cathedral Church of St. John in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Trelease died February 25 at the age of 83.

An obituary published in the Albuquerque Journal called Trelease "a tireless and outspoken advocate for the poor, the disenfranchised and the marginalized. He lobbied for water rights for people in the barrios, for women's rights, and for the rights of gays and lesbians." Elected bishop in 1971, Trelease was a supporter of women's ordination at the 1975 General Convention and ordained the first woman Episcopal priest in the diocese. He also publicly endorsed the hiring of two of the "Philadelphia Eleven" women priests by the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "You have my support and my respect for your willingness to take this stand," Trelease wrote to the divinity school, according to a 1975 Albuquerque Journal story. "There is no possible way divinity schools could prophesy to the church without crossing some sacred boundaries and embarrassing some people within the church."

Born April 16, 1921, in Berkeley, Calif., Trelease grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, where his father was rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. He was made a deacon in June, 1945 and priested in December of the same year in the Diocese of West Missouri. He served as a curate at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Honolulu and as the first rector of St. Christopher's in Kailua. He also served parishes in Wilmington, Delaware, and Akron, Ohio.

Trelease retired in 1988.

He is survived by his wife, Carol; children, Richard Mitchell Trelease III, Christopher Walker Trelease and Phyllis Trelease Bess;
stepchildren, Ada Tuchler Portman, Ann Tuchler and Sarah Tuchler; a brother, the Rev. Murray Trelease; a sister, Rosemary Trelease, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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