Betty Bone Schiess (CRDS ’72), who led the successful effort to have women ordained priests in the Episcopal church in America, passed away at the age of 94 on October 20, 2017. Betty was a member of the “Philadelphia Eleven,” a group of women who were the first women ordained as priests in the Episcopal Church on July 29, 1974. When her Bishop continued to block her ability to serve as a rightful priest, she initiated a civil suit against the church. Soon afterward, women were officially granted the same rights as male priests. Her acts of moral courage helped to reform the Church and continued to inspire women and men.The church finally recognized women priests in 1976-’77.
Betty was chaplain at Syracuse University (1976-78) and Cornell University (1978-79) as well as rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Mexico, New York (1984-89). She was past president of the International Association of Women Ministers, and she proudly served on Governor Mario Cuomo’s Task Force on Bio-ethics. Betty was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 1994 for “Her efforts to have made it possible for girls and women to succeed in all levels of the Church.”
Betty is survived by her husband of 70 years, Bill Schiess, her daughter, Sarah, her son, Richard, and her son-in-law and daughter-in-law, Daniel Moncheur and Pat Kaye-Schiess. She was predeceased by her son, William Schiess, Jr.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to NOW of Syracuse and Planned Parenthood of Central New York are welcome. Plans for a memorial service will be made at a later time.