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Ashes of trailblazing gay bishop returning to Utah

First Published      Last Updated Jun 02 2014 04:49 pm

Some six months after Episcopal Bishop E. Otis Charles died, his ashes are being interred in the columbarium at Salt Lake City's Episcopal cathedral — joining those of his longtime partner, Felipe Sanchez-Paris.

The interment will take place Saturday, June 7, at 11 a.m. followed by a memorial service, including Eucharist and celebration in the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, where Charles served as the eighth Episcopal bishop of Utah from 1971 until 1986.

Charles, an outspoken peace activist and the first openly gay bishop in any mainline Protestant denomination, died surrounded by family Dec. 26 at age 87 in San Francisco.

Charles told his wife, Elvira, that he was gay in 1976, but they remained together — and silent about his orientation — until shortly after he made a public announcement in 1993. The couple were married for 42 years and had five children.

In 2004, Charles and Sanchez-Paris had a commitment ceremony in San Francisco. Four years later, they married. Sanchez-Paris died July 31, 2013, and his ashes were interred at the columbarium.

Coincidentally, the columbarium was the brainchild of Elvira Charles, who still lives in Utah and worships at the cathedral.

Peggy Fletcher Stack