Cover photo for Gary Asher Mitchener's Obituary

Gary Asher Mitchener

February 21, 1939 — September 3, 2023

Beachwood, Ohio

Gary Asher Mitchener

The Reverend Gary Asher Mitchener was born February 21, 1939, in St. Louis, MO. He died on September 3, 2023, at Kemper House, a memory care facility in suburban Cleveland. He was 84 years old,  and in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Gary was the domestic partner of William H. Jones; father of Robert A. Mitchener and Miriam Mitchener; brother of Larry E. Mitchener; former husband of the late Judith Claghorn Mitchener; and grandfather of Jaden, Liam and Ava.

 

Outside of family, Gary’s life focused on two core elements: his strong Christian beliefs, and his love of music.

 

The importance of Gary’s Christian beliefs was evident at an early age. At 5 or 6 years old, he would stand in the front yard “preaching” to the passers-by. He became active in the youth groups of the fundamentalist church he was raised in. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Pacific University (Forest Grove, OR), Gary became active in the Episcopal Church. Soon after, he enrolled in what was then the Episcopal Theological School (Cambridge, MA).

 

After his ordination in 1966, Gary served parishes, large and small, across the country: Missouri, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and for the past 30 years in Cleveland, OH. Since his retirement, he and his partner have been active members of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church (Brunswick, OH) and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (Cleveland Heights), due in part to St. Paul’s proud support of Cleveland’s gay community.

 

But Gary never strayed far from music. After his undergraduate degree, he was undecided whether to pursue a master’s degree in music, or enter the Episcopal seminary. He decided on the latter, but music remained an important part of his life.

 

Gary was always a talented pianist. During the height of the folk music rage in the ‘60s, he also taught himself to play the guitar… well enough to start a youth choir –  the Amen Singers – at Calvary Episcopal Church (Columbia, MO), his first parish. 

 

Gary was musically versatile. His tastes ran the gamut from the fundamentalist Christian hymns of his childhood to the complicated concertos of J.S. Bach. He was as comfortable improvising cabaret songs in a smoke-filled cocktail lounge as he was playing “Amazing Grace” on an out-of-tune piano in a country church. At one of the Gary’s recent residences, he established a reputation for his singing, piano playing and dancing.

 

Near the end of his life, family was the primary focus of Gary’s life. He and his domestic partner, Bill, have shared the past decade of their lives. In 2021 Bill and Gary  legalized their domestic partnership with a ceremony at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.  Rounding out Gary’s family are his two children and three grandchildren.

 

The family prefers that those who wish may make contributions in his name to ushmm.org, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg PI SW, Washington, DC 20024.

 

Gary’s life will be celebrated at a funeral service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2747 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Hts., OH 44106, Friday, September 29, 2023 at 11:00 am.

Past Services

Funeral Service

Friday, September 29, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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