Richard Landis

[Age 80] The rector served Episcopal parishes in Pennsylvania and Maryland, spending 15 years in Annapolis.

March 25, 2007|By Sumathi Reddy | Sumathi Reddy,Sun Reporter

The Rev. Richard V. Landis, the socially conscious former rector of St. Anne's Parish in Annapolis, died Tuesday of a heart attack at his Odenton home. He was 80.

Born to Richard and Elsie Goss in Lancaster, Pa., Mr. Landis enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school.

He graduated from Duke University in 1949 and from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1960.

Mr. Landis met his wife, Alice Baker Leach, on a blind date. The couple married in November 1961.

Mr. Landis served Episcopal parishes in Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland, including Perryman, the Eastport section of Annapolis and Ellicott City.

He joined the staff of St. Anne's Parish in 1972 and was named rector in 1974, remaining there until he retired in 1987.

Retired Bishop A. Theodore Eastman said Mr. Landis was among a group of three counselors whom he regularly consulted. "I decided I needed to have some people who would tell me the truth," Bishop Eastman said. "He was a very valued member of our diocese and clergy family, and a very wise counselor to me."

Mr. Landis' ministry was known for its commitment to racial and gender equality, Bishop Eastman said.

Mr. Landis championed the ordination of women and preached at the 1977 ordination of the Rev. Phebe L. McPherson, the first woman priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

"He was my mentor," said Mrs. McPherson, a rector at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Odenton. "He was a gentle man, a thoughtful man. He was a wonderful teacher. I hope to be able to embody some of his qualities."

Mr. Landis served on a state commission serving the African-American and American Indian communities. And he was a vocal supporter of interracial dialogue in Harford County in the 1960s.

Karen Landis Thompson recalled that her father took her to Washington after the race riots of the 1960s to see the destruction. "He felt it was very important, and it was worth the risk to him," said Mrs. Thompson of Odenton. "You couldn't just sit at home and be safe and live quietly. You had a responsibility to change things for the better."

Mrs. McPherson recalled national Episcopal conferences she attended at which Mr. Landis could always sway other members to his side.

"He was able to stand up and be so thoughtful and reasonable that everyone would say, `Oh yes, now I understand.' And would be able to come to compromises."

Upon retirement, Mr. Landis moved to North Carolina and later Pennsylvania, continuing to serve as an interim rector in various parishes. He moved back to Odenton in November to be closer to his two daughters.

Mr. Landis had recently completed a novel he had been working on for many years. Called Klingersville, the novel is a mystery about a small town that finds a treasure. Mrs. Thompson, his daughter, described it as having a "Garden of Eden" theme.

Family and friends hope to publish the book, she said. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. today at St. Anne's Episcopal Church, 199 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis. Bishop Eastman will preside.

In addition to his wife and daughter, survivors include another daughter, Elizabeth Ann Landis, of Odenton; a sister, Evelyn Reese of New Holland, Pa.; and two grandchildren.

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