The Rev. Canon Gordon K. McBride, PhD, died Saturday, July 10, in Casper, Wyoming, of complications from pulmonary fibrosis. He was in Wyoming to attend a family wedding when he became ill. He had been a Tucson, Arizona, resident since 1985, serving as rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church 1985-1991 and Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, a new parish created by the merger of St. Paul's and Grace Episcopal Church, 1991-2008. He was 68.
McBride was born in the tiny mountain farming community of Heber, Utah, the eldest son of Hazel Alvira (Pace) and Frederick Gordon McBride. His parents were descended from Mormon pioneers: the Paces, who emigrated from England, were farmers and teachers who settled in Heber; the McBrides, from Scotland, worked the mines of Park City. Gordon grew up in the Salt Lake valley, where he attended Westminster College, graduating and marrying his classmate Anne Heck in 1965. While in college, he earned his pilot's license. He played drums professionally in a number of small jazz and pop combos from his mid-teens through his early twenties, when he left Utah to pursue graduate studies.
McBride earned an M.A. in history in 1966 from the University of Oregon. That same year his daughter Bonnie was born. He then took a faculty position at Eastern Oregon State, where he taught for three years. In 1969 entered the Ph.D. program in history at the University of Cincinnati, where he specialized in Tudor-Stuart England. His daughter Jennifer was born there in 1971. The family spent the 1972-1973 academic year in London, where McBride carried out dissertation research on English-Portuguese relations in the 16th and 17th centuries.
In 1973 McBride joined the History Department at his alma mater, Westminster College. While there, he completed his dissertation on "The Politics of Economic Expansion: English Economic and Diplomatic Relations with Portugal and Incursions into the Portuguese Overseas Empire." While at the College, he arranged and taught summer study programs in the UK. Gordon and Anne dissolved their marriage in 1977. His marriage the following year to Deborah Von Krum ended in divorce. It was out of the sorrow and self-reflection that followed that he first seriously considered a life of faith and found a spiritual home in the Cathedral Church of St. Mark.
McBride married Kari Boyd Rountree in 1979 and adopted her two children, Gretchen and Scott Anthony. That same year Gordon, Kari, and two friends formed Albion Travel Associates and led a series of tours to Europe 1979-1985. In 1980, he decided to seek ordination in the Episcopal Church. The following year he took a sabbatical leave from Westminster to attend Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon in 1983 and returned to the College, where he was elected chair of the faculty. He carried out his diaconate at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, where he was ordained priest in 1984. He was then invited to return to St. Mark's as a clergy affiliate.
In 1985 he was called as rector to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Tucson, AZ. In 1991 he undertook the merger of St. Paul's with Grace Episcopal Church and became rector of the newly formed Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church. During his tenure there, he led the parish to embrace progressive Christianity, to engage contemporary theologies and biblical studies, to address salient local and global issues, and to engage interfaith dialog. He was named honorary canon of the Diocese of Arizona and served as chair of the diocesan Commission on Ministry. On his retirement in 2008, the parish hall of Grace St. Paul's was named McBride Hall in his honor. Since then he has served as a priest affiliate of St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church. Over the past decade McBride also pursued his love of fiction and writing, publishing three novels: Flying to Tombstone (2002; 2nd ed. 2010), The Ghost of Midsummer Common (2008), and The Vicar of Bisbee (2010).
The funeral was Friday, July 16, at Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Rector's Discretionary Fund at Grace St. Paul's. Please include the notation "McBride memorial" on checks.