Cover photo for William  Boyd Grove's Obituary
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1929 William 2023

William Boyd Grove

April 24, 1929 — October 27, 2023

William Boyd Grove died October 27, 2023, in Johnson City, Tennessee, at the age of 94, secure in Christ’s promise of resurrection. He was a Christian, a follower of Jesus, and a bishop in the United Methodist Church.

Born on April 24, 1929, in Johnstown, PA, he was the oldest of three sons of William Morgan Grove and Elizabeth Boyd Grove. He graduated from Bethany College (BA), Drew University (MDiv), and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (DMin) and was recipient of several honorary degrees. In 1992 he was named a Distinguished West Virginian by Governor Gaston Caperton.

For 72 years he was married to Mary Lou Naylor Grove, whom he knew since childhood and who was his partner in life and ministry. They were parents of two daughters.

Bishop Grove was ordained in 1954 in the Pittsburgh Conference of the Methodist Church, where he served four pastoral appointments and was elected delegate to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences from 1968 through 1980.

In 1980 he was elected and consecrated a bishop and assigned to the West Virginia Episcopal Area (1980-92) and the Albany (NY) Area (1992-96). He was called from retirement to serve the West Virginia Area again in 2012.

Bishop Grove had lifelong commitments to social justice and the unity of Christ’s Church, and served as president of the denomination’s General Board of Church and Society (1984-88) and General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (1988-96).

In 1996 he was named Ecumenical Officer of the Council of Bishops, the first to hold that office. He led United Methodist delegations to the National Council of Churches, the Consultation on Church Union, and the World Council of Churches Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Bishop Grove had deep and abiding love for the mountains and the people of Appalachia, especially West Virginia, where he and Mary Lou returned in retirement and lived until moving to Johnson City, TN in 2017 to be near family. He chaired the Appalachian Development Committee for the UMC and worked tirelessly to advocate for the region.

Bishop Grove was a poet and hymn-writer. He was known for his wisdom, grace, encouragement, and kindness and as a builder of bridges. He had a gift for relationship and was beloved by people around the world who were profoundly influenced by his life and example. He was predeceased by his parents and one brother, Robert Morgan Grove, and one sister (by marriage) Jane Naylor.

In addition to his wife Mary Lou, he is survived by his children, Douglas (by marriage) and Susan Grove-DeJarnett and Rebecca Janczewski; grandchildren Hannah Grove-DeJarnett, Ryan (by marriage) and Gretchen Frankenberry, Alex (by marriage) and Carissa Park, Daniel William Janczewski, and Sarah Janczewski; great-grandchildren Julia Frankenberry and Thatcher William Frankenberry; siblings Barbara (by marriage) and David Grove and Susan Kilmer Grove (by marriage); several cherished nieces and nephews; and countless clergy sons and daughters across the Church.

The Grove family expresses deep gratitude to the staff of Colonial Hill Retirement Center, who became family to him, and to the staffs of Johnson City Medical Center and SOFHA, especially Dr. Michael Snyder, Dr. Paula Smith, Kimberly Jackson, and Andy Bollinger, for their compassionate care.

Suggestions for memorial gifts include The United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia for ministries and relief aid to children in war-torn areas; The William Boyd and Mary Lou Grove Trust at the United Methodist Foundation of West Virginia; and The Bishop William Boyd Grove and Mary Lou Grove Scholarship Fund at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Funeral for Bishop Grove will be held at 1:30 pm on November 16, at Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston, WV.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William Boyd Grove, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Starts at 1:30 pm (Eastern time)

Christ Church United Methodist

1221 Quarrier Street, Charleston, WV 25301


Click to watch

The service will be live-streamed on the Christ Church United Methodist YouTube channel. To go to the channel, click the "watch event" link below.

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