The Rev. Dr. William Allen Bosbyshell, Class of 1958 and long-time Southwest Florida priest, died Friday, May 10, 2019. "Fr. Bill," as many knew him, was not only a familiar priest at many parishes, but counseled hundreds of laity and clergy over his second career as a counselor. He was past executive director of the Episcopal Counseling Center (Samaritan Center) in the Diocese of Southwest Florida
Born Oct. 15, 1933 in Philadelphia to John H. Bosbyshell and Lilla Gibson Bosbyshell Mitterling, he received a B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1955. After graduating from General, he later received a Masters and PhD in education and counseling from the University of Florida. He was ordained deacon in 1958 and priest also that year, under the Rt. Rev. Oliver Hart. He met his wife Caroline at Swarthmore; they married after seminary. Their wedding was at St. Andrew's in Tampa, where Caroline's family attended.
He served first as curate at Grace Church, Mt. Airy, Penn. and was Canon Sacristan at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando from 1960-62. He served as rector of St. Johns, Eau Gallie, from 1962-66. From 1966-1968 he was counselor to residents at the University of Florida, and later served as auxiliary chaplain of the 691st Radar Squadron in Cross City, Fla.
While living on the Space Coast from 1962-66, Bosbyshell felt the call to counseling. It was during the race to the moon, when the area was growing quickly, that the stress of the progress in the space program brought family issues. “So many people had problems,” said Caroline Bosbyshell. “They were over-working, up all night and at a bar at 6 a.m.”
He assisted and served in many churches in the new Diocese of Southwest Florida beginning in 1970, when he became associate director of the Episcopal Counseling Service in Southwest Florida and later Executive Director. He stayed at the Samaritan Center until 1990. In 1995, he finally retired after 19 years of psychological evaluations of aspirants for the ministry. He put his philosophy in words to the bishop’s office:
As a pastoral counselor, I have a ministry enabling people to grow in God’s love and grace as they face individual problems, overcome family difficulties, live through crises and make important decisions. I have been with people through times of depression and despair, in grief and loss when God seems remote and I would like to be with people also at turning points and celebrations when God’s response can be recognized and real.”
In a Samaritan Center brochure distributed to the diocese, Bosbyshell wrote that counseling was another way to make us more in the image that God intended:
“God holds out a hope and promise for each of us. The promise is that HE is within our life process, within our being, within our life. The hope is that, through our living in touch with ourselves and aware of God, we will experience the joy He intends for us.”
During his time at the center, he served as assistant at Good Shepherd, Dunedin, and later served at Church of the Ascension from 1972-77, and St. John’s Clearwater from 1978-90. He also served as canon at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter from 1990-98 under the then dean of the cathedral, the Very Rev. Barry Howe. He retired after 41 years of active ministry. In retirement he served a long tenure at St. Bede’s, assisting as priest from 2000-16.
His wife Caroline said that he was, in spite of his interest in counseling, very good at the altar. "When he was assisting, everything went right." While he was a traditionalist, he also was glad to "move on" and was in favor of ordaining women priests.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Caroline Thomas Bosbyshell; by children, William Allen Bosbyshell Jr. (Maura), Charlotte, NC; Frances Lima (Al), St. Petersburg; and Mary Helen Landmesser (Kevin), Simpsonville, SC; grandchildren, William Allen Bosbyshell III, Katherine D. Landmesser and Sarah H. Landmesser; brother, Ronald J. Bosbyshell, Texas and nephew, Ronald J. Bosbyshell, Jr. (Yolanda),Texas. He was predeceased by his parents and nephew, Randall S. Bosbyshell.
A Eucharistic celebration of his life will be held at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, 140 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 on Sunday, May 19, 2019; at 2 p.m. Burial will be at Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Ga. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Cathedral Church of St. Peter.