The Rt. Rev. William (Bill) Davidson, retired bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas, died May 8 in Loveland, Colorado. He was 86.
Davidson was born in Miles City, Montana, on July 20, 1919. He graduated from Montana State University with a bachelor’s degree in 1940 and taught vocational agriculture in Sidney, Montana. He graduated in 1946 from Berkeley Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut.
He was ordained deacon on August 23, 1946, and priest on April 25, 1947. From 1946 to 1952 he was vicar in charge of churches in Townsend, White Sulphur Springs and Martinsdale, Montana. From 1952 until 1956 he was rector at St. James’ Church in Lewistown, Montana.
In 1956 Davidson joined the staff of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church in New York City as associate secretary of the division of town and country work within what was then known as the Home Department. He held this position until 1962 when he became rector of Grace Church, Jamestown, North Dakota.
He was serving that congregation when he was elected Bishop of the Missionary District of Western Kansas by the House of Bishops in September 1965. Davidson was consecrated on January 6, 1966. Then-Presiding Bishop John E. Hines was the consecrator.
Davidson was involved in many ecumenical activities during his time in the district. On the national level, Davidson headed the Episcopal Committee on Conscientious Objectors to Military Service, serving in that capacity during the volatile Vietnam era.
At the General Convention of 1970, the Missionary District of Western Kansas submitted a petition for diocesan status. The Convention approved the request, and while Davidson was entitled to remain as the appointed bishop, he maintained that the new diocese should have an elected bishop. At its first diocesan convention, held in Salina in 1971, the diocese elected Davidson first bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas.
In May 1980, Davidson announced that he would accept a position as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Ohio, saying he felt that the time had come for new leadership for the western Kansas diocese. He retired in July 1986.
As a retired bishop, he served as an assisting bishop in the dioceses of Indianapolis, Central New York, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Rio Grande and Colorado.
Davidson and his wife -- Mary Shoemaker of Helena, Montana, whom he married on June 3, 1942 -- made their retirement home in Loveland, Colorado, since August, 1987.
They had four children - Carol (Ron) Carpenter, Bemidji, Minnesota; Tom (Lillian Shirley), Portland, Oregon; George (Sally McHale), Denver, Colorado, and Bob (Linda Brower), Loveland, Colorado. He is also survived by ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
A Requiem Eucharist is set for May 11 at All Saints Episcopal Church, Loveland, Colorado. His ashes were interred in the All Saint’s Columbarium. Memorials may be directed to the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund or to All Saints Episcopal Church, Loveland, Colorado.