The Reverend Birk Smith Stathers, Jr., 81, died peacefully in the company of his family at Exeter Hospital in Exeter, New Hampshire on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, after a life spent in service and fellowship as a priest, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. A long-term resident of Lewisburg, West Virginia, Birk moved to Exeter in 2015 to be closer to family.
Born March 4, 1936 in Clarksburg, WV, he was the son of the Honorable Birk Smith and Margaret Richards Stathers. He graduated from Clarksburg High School before attending Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a graduate of the Wharton School of Business. After briefly considering law school, Birk worked as a banker before enrolling at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City. As an Episcopal priest for over 50 years, Birk served as the rector of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Miami, Florida for more than 15 years before being called to interim work. As an interim priest he ministered to over a dozen parishes, including churches in Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and New York.
Birk was predeceased by his dear wife, Martha Julia ("Molly") Stathers in 2013. After meeting on a blind date, Birk and Molly were married on February 6, 1965. They shared a wonderful life full of love and ministry. Contemplating retirement in 1987, they purchased an historic home on North Lee Street in Lewisburg, where they eventually settled in 1993. In their retirement they enjoyed travel; they visited Turkey, Japan, the Baltic States, Russia, and Scandinavia and even completed a walking tour of Whales. Later in retirement, Birk continued to serve as supply clergy in Greenbrier County and even gave tours of the now de-classified congressional bunker that was secretly located beneath the Greenbrier for decades.
After moving to New Hampshire, Birk continued to enjoy going to the movies, playing bridge, attending exercise classes, and watching classic 1980s television shows. Always social, Birk delighted in community gatherings and never missed an opportunity to have ice cream with his grandchildren.
Throughout the years Birk was also a member of the Rotary Clubs of Charleston and Lewisburg, and of Miami, where he served on the scholarship committee. He also served on the board of directors for the Greenbrier Episcopal School. At St. Matthew's in Miami, Birk oversaw the construction of the new church building and the creation of an Episcopal school and was the spiritual director for the Episcopal Cursillo Ministries. Birk rarely missed Sunday services as he enjoyed both the opportunity to worship and fellowship with others.
Rev. Stathers is survived by his son, Birk Smith Stathers, III and his wife Kathleen; his daughter, Margaret "Meg" Stathers Grant and her husband Jameson John Grant; his four grandchildren, Walter Thomas Stathers (Ashlynn), David Kendall Stathers, James Birk Grant, and Molly Lewis Grant; his great-grandson, Cayden Jace Stathers; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In addition to his wife and parents, he was predeceased by his sisters, Mary Jeanette Straton and Margaret Annette Stathers.
A Eucharist of the Resurrection will be celebrated at St. James Church, Lewisburg, on Friday, August 25, 2017, at 11 a.m.; followed by internment of his ashes next to his beloved wife at St. Thomas in White Sulfur Springs. A reception will follow at St. Thomas.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, or to your local Rotary scholarship fund.