Leontine T.C. Kelly, a daughter and wife of ministers who followed her own calling and became the first black woman bishop in a major Christian denomination when the United Methodist Church elevated her to the position in 1984, has died. She was 92.
Kelly, who oversaw Northern California and Nevada for the church from 1984 to 1988 while based in San Francisco, died June 28, the denomination announced. She had been in poor health for some time while living at a retirement home in Oakland.
When Kelly was named bishop at age 64, she became only the second woman to hold that post in the United Methodist Church. She also served as president of the denomination’s Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, taking on the duties of chief administrative officer and spiritual leader for the 100,000 members of her flock.
Kelly, who considered herself a social and political activist as well as spiritual leader, supported the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church organization, ministered to AIDSpatients and spoke out against nuclear weapons and armed conflict.
“All my life, my political and social and spiritual selves have all moved together,” Kelly told thePittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2002. “I just could not separate them.”
She was born Leontine Turpeau on March 5, 1920, in Washington, D.C., the seventh of eight children, and as a child moved with her family to Cincinnati. Her father, the Rev. David DeWitt Turpeau Sr., was a Methodist Episcopal minister and four-term member of the Ohio Legislature. Her mother, Ila, was an African American activist who co-founded the Urban League in Cincinnati. The family lived in a parsonage that had been a station on the Underground Railroad where slaves fleeing the South would stop for rest.
Read the complete story here: Leontine T.C. Kelly obituary: First black woman bishop in a major Christian denomination dies at 92 – latimes.com.