I write to inform you of the death the Rt. Rev. Robert Rae Spears, Jr., on March 18, 2008.
He served as the fifth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester from 1970 - 1984 and was well known in the community for his activism in various areas involving human and civil rights. Given his passion for issues of human rights and freedoms, the Diocese of Rochester found itself at the forefront of the efforts for the ordination of women in The Episcopal Church. Bishop Spears was also a strong advocate for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church and appointed the first Homophile Commission to bring about change in this diocese. He had co-chaired the national Episcopal Church's Commission on Human Sexuality from 1976-1979.
Born in Rochester in 1918, he was a graduate of Hobart College and the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He served congregations in Western New York, Central New York, and Princeton, New Jersey prior to his election as Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Missouri in 1967. He served that diocese until his election as Bishop of Rochester in 1970. He narrowly missed being elected Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in 1973. Bishop Spears served our diocese and The Episcopal Church well and touched the hearts and lives of many.
Funeral arrangements are being planned for Saturday, March 22, 2008, although they are not yet complete at this time. We will let you know as soon as we are able. Please keep his wife, Charlotte, and all of their family in your thoughts and prayers.
"May the souls of the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace"
The Rt. Rev. Jack M. McKelvey
VII Bishop of Rochester