The Reverend Stephen Hale Gushée, 76, priest, columnist, television moderator, and devoted husband and father, died April 6, after a months-long battle with bladder cancer. He was born in Detroit in 1936. Mr Gushée was rector of Trinity Church in Newtown from 1970 until 1978.
At age 13, he boarded a train eastward, where he would spend the rest of his life. He attended Kent School, in Kent, Conn., where he was on the rowing team and was captain of the football team. In 1953, he rowed in the Henley Royal Regatta in England, by far the best-known race of its kind in the world.
Rev Gushée attended Brown University in Providence on a US Navy scholarship. Following graduation in 1958, he served for three years as a line officer aboard the USS Shelldrake, a minesweeper assigned to the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet.
Shortly after leaving the service, he enrolled in the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass., where he received his master’s of divinity degree. He was ordained in 1967. Rev Gushée was one of the original members of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. He was a canon of St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen, Scotland, for ten years and served as a member and, at times, director of a number of social service organizations and inner city agencies. He was an ordained Episcopal priest for more than four decades.
Beginning in 1994, he was the religion writer for the Palm Beach Post and contributed a weekly opinion column, “On Religion,” until 2008. His column was distributed to hundreds of newspapers across the country by the Cox News Service. His columns attracted so much attention because of his passion and the simple clarity of his voice. He detested intolerance and hubris, and said so often and loudly. He was skeptical of fundamentalists. He strongly defended the right of women to become priests. Rev Gushée was an early advocate for gay rights. And often, he was gentle, funny, and enlightening (“A banquet is a better symbol of Christianity than a fish stick.”)
For 13 years, until 2012, Rev Gushée was the moderator of Viewpoint on WPTV, the Miami PBS affiliate. The show, which has been airing for more than three decades, brings together religious leaders and scholars who delve into religious, moral, and ethical topics.
He lived a life with the throttle wide open, touching countless people through his engaging sermons and his thought-provoking columns.
He married Mary Coakley in 1996 and in his later years assisted her in the day-to-day operations of her women’s fashion store in Palm Beach.
His beloved wife survives Rev Gushée. He was predeceased by his first wife, his college sweetheart, Anne Elizabeth Taylor. They had three children: Allison Gushée Molkenthin, Andrea Bordley Mayfield, and Gregory Hale Gushée. The extended Gushée family includes the spouses of his children, Steve Molkenthin, Jeff Mayfield and Sophia Gushée; and eight wonderful granddaughters. Two brothers, Edward and John; sisters-in-law Marilyn, Kitty, and Sally; and numerous nieces and nephews also survive him. His oldest brother, Richard, predeceased Rev Gushée.
A funeral will take place at noon, Saturday, April 13, at Bethesda-by-the-Sea, Palm Beach, Fla. The Gushée family will receive friends during a reception immediately following the service. The interment will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, 25 Old King’s Highway North, Suite 13, Darien CT 06820; or the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN), 4915 St Elmo Avenue, Suite 202, Bethesda MD 20814.
Arrangements by Quattlebaum Funeral Home, West Palm Beach, Fla.