Skip to main content

Marmion, William H. (William Henry), 1907-2002


Biographical Note

Born in Houston, Texas on October 8, 1907, William H. Marmion was one of three children of Charles Gresham Marmion and Katherine Rankin Marmion. William Marmion grew up in Houston, and attended Christ Church in Houston. Graduating from Rice University in 1929, young Marmion entered the Virginia Theological Seminary, where he earned a bachelor's of divinity degree in 1932. Soon afterward, he was ordered deacon in the Episcopal Church, and on April 5, 1933 ascended to the priesthood. Starting his career in the ministry, the newly ordained priest returned to his native state, and served as Priest-in-Charge of two different churches: Taylor's St. James Church and Georgetown's Grace Church, from 1932-1935. The year 1935 was significant for another reason: William Marmion's marriage to Mabel "Blossom" Dougherty Nall on December 28, 1935.

After a brief tenure as Associate Minister of St. Mark's Church in San Antonio, Marmion received the appointment of Rector at Saint Mary's on the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, and occupied this position from 1938 until 1950. While in Birmingham, the Marimon's were blessed with two children, William Marmion, Jr., born on May 26, 1942, and Roger Mills Nall Marmion, born on January 19, 1944. In 1950, St. Andrew's Church in Wilmington, Delaware became his new parish, and the Rector remained until 1954. In this year William H. Marmion received a D.D. Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary, and later the same year was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, a position he occupied until he retired in 1979.

Service to church and community punctuated the Bishop's life. Early in his career, Marmion became active in civic affairs serving in Youth Work in both Texas and Alabama. While in Birmingham, he also participated in the Department of Christian Social Relations of the Executive Council of the Diocese of Alabama, and for four years chaired the Alabama Committee on Interracial Cooperation. While at St. Andrew's, the Rector chaired the Department of Christian Education. These activities represented more than temporary assignments, for civil rights, education, and social relations among all Episcopalians remained life-longs interests.

After being consecrated Bishop in 1954, Marmion continued to focus on social issues. Opposed to unequal treatment of church members because of race and the War in Vietnam, the 1960's marked a troubled time in his career. In particular the five-year controversy (1957-1962) over the use of Hemlock Haven, a Diocesan retreat near Marion, Virginia, for biracial youth conferences proved to be a test of the Bishop's belief in equal treatment for all members of his diocese. Although at first the youth conferences were canceled due to the inability of the Diocese to come to an agreement on the terms of use, in 1963 Bishop's position prevailed, and the retreat finally hosted integrated youth conferences for young Episcopalian. The Bishop served on a number of committees that dealt with the topic of race and religion, including the Department of Christian Social Relations. Marmion also opposed American Involvement in the Vietnam Conflict, and his efforts to encourage an end to the conflict drew both support and sharp criticism from the members of his Diocese. Before retiring from his post as Bishop of Southwestern Virginia in 1979, Marmion participated in a number of church committees, including the Committee on World Relief and Interchurch Aid and the American Church Institute. He also chaired several committees, including the Church and Race Fund Committee and Long Range Planning Committee. Marmion also served on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church from 1963-1969, and was active in establishing the Appalachian People's Service Organization, now Episcopal Appalachian Ministries, which was based in Blacksburg, Virginia before moving to Knoxville, Tennessee. After retiring as acting Bishop of the diocese, the Bishop and his wife continued to reside in Roanoke, Virginia.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia Records

Identifier: Ms-1985-004

The Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia Records consist of the Diocese's administrative records, including incoming (often from parishioners) and outgoing correspondence, with a scattering of newspaper clippings, photographs, building plans and surveys, pamphlets, and meeting minutes, from the central administrative office in Roanoke and the churches within the Diocese.

Dates: 1866 - 2004; Majority of material found within ( 1919-1969)

Bishop William H. Marmion Papers

Identifier: Ms-1986-013
Abstract Bishop William H. Marmion, born 1907, was Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia from 1954 to 1979. The papers document the forty-seven year ecclesiastical career of William H. Marmion. Materials include booklets, church bulletins, correspondence to and from Marmion, newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, and reports generated by the Bishop in his service to the Episcopal Church. Topics of interest to the researcher cover Marmion's interest in the civil rights...
Dates: 1932 - 1981

Marcus L. Oliver Correspondence

Identifier: Ms-2009-096

The collection contains business correspondence from Marcus L. Oliver's tenure with the Virginia Tech Alumni Association (1950-1968) and the University of the South Alumni Association. The collection also includes personal correspondence from 1947 to 2010.

Dates: 1947 - 2010; Majority of material found within 1950 - 1985