William Ferguson Maxwell

September 18, 1925 - November 7, 2022


“I pray now that when I surrender and let go, I may claim the promises: that all things may be made new, that I may know even as I am known, that I may be there when mercy and truth meet together, and enfolded in the embrace when righteousness and peace kiss each other.”

Those lines come from Bill’s poem “When I Die, I Will Miss.” Bill died at his home in Port Townsend, Washington, on Nov. 7, 2022, having been loved and cared for by his wife Sue, his children, Hospice of Jefferson Healthcare, and beloved friends too numerous to count. A funeral service for Bill was held at St. Paul’s Church, Port Townsend on Nov. 12.

Bill was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Ferguson Maxwell Sr. and Bessie Asquith Maxwell. His family eventually settled in Dallas, Texas, where Bill graduated at age 20 from Southern Methodist University. He attended Seabury-Western Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church. He had recently celebrated the 74th anniversary of his ordination.

Bill’s ministry was far-reaching. His message of God’s love was inclusive, and “all” was a much-used word for him. He was an extraordinary speaker, liturgist, counselor, consultant, and administrator. He was committed to social justice and the civil rights movement, and he was a friend to the poor and homeless, wherever he lived.

Bill served missions and parishes in Comanche, Texas; Stephenville, Texas; Evanston, Illinois; Oak Park, Illinois; Bozeman, Montana; Chicago, Illinois; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Salt Lake City, Utah. While in Stephenville, he married Mary Louise Clayton, and they had three children. He later married Sue Barnhardt, whose five children made for a blended family of eight children. He retired Dec. 31, 1990.

Bill’s ministry extended far beyond retirement. After he and Sue retired, they became parishioners of St. Paul’s Church, Port Townsend where Bill played an active role in the life of the parish. Bill served as the first vicar of Grace Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island, and was interim at St. James’s in Salt Lake City. He loved the community in Port Townsend and lived there a third of his life. In addition to his deep commitment to the church, Bill was a long-time hospice volunteer, a member of the Port Townsend Library Advisory Board, and a founding member of the Foundation for Hospice of Jefferson Healthcare. He took great joy in writing poetry, exploring the Northwest and Canada,  and raising much-loved dogs and cats.

Bill is survived by his wife Sue; children Stephen Maxwell (Judy Pearson), Jane Maxwell (Jon Pinnow), John Maxwell (Teya Walkker Maxwell), Beth Quimby Wiles (Barry), Laurie Quimby Pereira (JR), David Quimby, Katie Quimby (Eitan Yanich), and Christopher Quimby; and treasured grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and countless friends.

It is fitting that Bill loved this final blessing from the wedding service in the New  Zealand Prayer Book: “May they grow old in the company of friends.”

Bill grew old in the company of many friends and a loving family, all of whom were warmed by his gentle smile, his bright eyes, and his wry sense of humor.

Dear Bill - husband, father, grandfather, friend, priest, and poet:

We love you and wish you peace. Life is so ornate!

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to: St. Paul’s Church, Port Townsend; Grace Episcopal Church, Bainbridge Island; or Hospice Foundation for Jefferson Healthcare.