David Birney, retired bishop, dies at his home

Obituaries for Feb. 16

February 16, 2004

The Rev. David B. Birney IV

The Rev. David Bell Birney IV, 74, of Waterworks Road, a retired Episcopal bishop who was an upbeat advocate for the downtrodden in his home community and around the world, died Friday at his home.

Birney, who could trace his ancestry to the early days of Danville, was born Nov. 26, 1929, in New Orleans, La., he was the son of the late David B. and Stella Walshe Birney. He attended J.P. McCaskey High School and Lancaster Country Day Schools in Lancaster, Pa., Emerson College in Boston, Mass., and earned his bachelor of arts degree from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. He earned his master of divinity degree and later was granted a doctorate at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va. He was ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church in 1955.

He served St. John's Church, York, Pa., All Saints' Church in Hanover, Pa., and the Church of the Mediator in Allentown, Pa., before becoming a missionary appointee to the Church of Uganda from 1969 to 1972 and to Botswana, 1972 to 1975. From 1976 to 1982 he served as coordinator of Overseas Ministries for the Episcopal Church and was a member of the board of the National Hunger Committee of the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief. In 1982, he was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Idaho where he served until 1989. From 1989 to 1993, he was assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts.


In 1993, he retired to Danville where he has served as chairman of the Children and Family Services Board of Christian Church Homes of Kentucky.

The residence at Woodlawn Children's Home was built by his great-great-great-grandparents, James and Martha Reed Birney of Danville whose son, James Gillespie Birney, married Agatha McDowell.

He also was on the advisory board of the Salvation Army the Heart of Kentucky United Way. He also was a member of the board of the Cardinal Meadows Housing for Retired Seniors in Harrodsburg. He served as president of the Danville Rotary Club (2002-2003) and is a Paul Harris Fellow. From 1996 to 1998, he was an envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Church of Rwanda. He was awarded the Broadhurst Award for outstanding service from Christian Church Homes of Kentucky.

"When he moved to Danville, (Birney) got right involved with the Christian Church Homes' Woodlawn campus in Danville)," said Kathy Miles, former executive director of the program. "He was an avid advocate for children who had been abused and neglected.

"He was just a wonderful board member and chairman who always took the mission of the home back to board meetings, which was God's call to serve hurting children," she said. "The same is true for what he did with other organizations in this community. Any time people move into a community and give back to the community as fast as he did, we as a community lose the giving spirit (at his death). When he would walk into a meeting, you felt the presence of a leader."

Zachary Bell, commander of the Salvation Army in Danville, said Birney was an "invaluable" member of that agency's board as well.

"The unfortunate thing for me is that, because I have only been here a few months, I was not able to work with David as much as others," said Bell. "But I can say that during the time I was able to work with him, I found him to be a person who truly cared about his community.

"David Birney wanted Danville to be the best community it could be and, to him, that meant helping those who needed help," he said. "He was a wonderful, wonderful man, an outstanding adviser to the army and a great advocate of its causes in this community."

The Rev. Stacy Sauls, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, said both he and the diocese were "extremely fortunate" when Birney decided to retire to central Kentucky.

"He was a real asset to our diocese and helped us, as both supply clergy and advisor, in many of our parishes, where he is much loved," said Sauls. "As for me, it was wonderful to have a man of David's wisdom and experience in the diocese when I became bishop just three years ago. I was fortunate to have a man of his stature and his graciousness to call on."

Birney was well known outside of the parishes of the Diocese of Lexington and the parishes of Massachusetts.

"David had a strong reputation in the global Anglican Communion, one that grew even more with his work as the special representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Rwanda," he said.

"David Birney was a real figure in the Episcopal Church and the whole Anglican Community."

Survivors include his wife, Virginia Knorr Birney; two sons, David B. Birney V and Robert K. Birney, both of Danville; a sister, Jane B. deLeeuw of Heath, Mass.; a brother, Frank W. Birney of Studio City, Calif.; and a grandson.

A memorial service will be 10 a.m. Saturday at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Friday at Stith Funeral Home.

Memorials may go to Salvation Army or Woodlawn Children's Campus.

Flonnie E. Weddle

LIBERTY - Flonnie E. Weddle, 76, of Cincinnati, died Saturday at Mercy-West Hill Hospital.

Born Jan. 23, 1928, in Science Hill, she was the daughter of the late Carlos and Susie Parton Beasley. She was a homemaker and the widow of Arlis Richardson.

Survivors include seven daughters, Berneice Couch of Cincinnati, Sue Patton of Campton, Norma Bennett of Reading, Ohio, Eva Roberts of Liberty, Ruby Cox of Campbellsville, Betty Buck of Dearborne, Mich., and Lisa Woodrum of Elmwood, Ohio; three sons, Randy Richardson of Harrison, Ohio, Arlis Richardson of Hustonville, and Eddie Richardson of Harrison, Ohio; 33 grandchildren; 32 great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren.

Services will be 1 p.m. Wednesday at Hilltop Trinity Full Gospel Church by the Rev. Don Clark. Burial will be in Willow Springs Cemetery.

Visitation will be after 6 p.m. Tuesday at the church.

Bartle Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Central Kentucky News Articles