Jack Tuell, retired Bishop of the United Methodist Church, author, husband, father, grandfather, friend of so many, died on January 10, 2014 at the Wesley Homes Health Center in Des Moines, Washington. He was 90 years old.
He was born on November 14, 1923 in Tacoma, Washington, the sixth son of Harry Tuell and Ann Bertelsen Tuell. He grew up in Tacoma, graduating from Stadium High School in 1941. He attended the University of Washington and served in the Army Air Corps in World War II. In 1946 he married Marjorie Beadles. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Washington in 1948 and practiced law in Edmonds, Washington until 1950, when he felt a call to the Christian ministry. He graduated from Boston University School of Theology in 1955, receiving the Jacob Sleeper Fellowship.
Ordained as an elder in the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Methodist Church, he served churches in Tewkesbury, Massachusetts, Everett, Lakewood, and Vancouver, Washington as well as serving as district superintendent. In 1972, he was elected Bishop, the first native-born Washingtonian to be elected to the episcopacy of the United Methodist Church. He served for 8 years as bishop of the Portland Area and then 12 years as bishop of the Los Angeles Area. In 1989-1990, he was president of the Council of Bishops of the world-wide United Methodist Church.
In 1970 he published The Organization of the United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press), now in its 11th edition and required reading in most UMC schools of theology.
He retired in 1992 but continued to participate in church governance, especially in judicial matters. He became a vocal advocate within the Council of Bishops for changing the church policy to allow the ordination of homosexuals in the UMC and the weddings of gay persons in UMC churches. At the 2012 General Conference of the UMC in Tampa, Florida, though he was frail and ill, he stood with Conference delegates protesting the church’s official stance on homosexuality.
In retirement, he and his wife lived on Whidbey Island. In 1998 they moved to Wesley Homes in Des Moines.
Loved by many, respected by all, a funny, generous, kind, and intelligent man, he is survived by his wife of 67 years, three children (Jackie Joday of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin; Cynthia Tuell of Upland, California, and Jim Knowles-Tuell of Delmar, New York), five grand-children, and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at the Terrace at Wesley Homes, Des Moines, at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 25. An additional service will be held at the Des Moines United Methodist Church the following day, Sunday, January 26 at 2:30 p.m.
Memorial donations can be made to the Wesley Homes Foundation Circle of Concern or to the Tuell Scholarship Fund at Claremont School of Theology. Or, donations to CST can be made online at www.cst.edu/tuell.
Online condolences can be shared at Guest Book (link above).