Obituary: the Rt Rev John Waine

  • Date

    Tue 19 Jan 21

Rt Rev John Waine

Former Chair of the Council of the University of Essex, the Right Reverend John Waine KCVO, has died at the age of 90.

The Bishop first became a member of the University Council in 1994 and was appointed Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council in 1995, which he held until 2001.

He was Bishop of Chelmsford from 1986-96 and was awarded an Honorary Degree from Essex in 2002.

During the oration at his Honorary Degree ceremony, University Court member Christopher Pertwee said Bishop John’s  “deft, tactful and friendly touch, with a great deal of humour, brought the best out of meetings” and under his leadership the University Council had flourished.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster said: “John was a great friend and champion of the University of Essex. Through his leadership as a member, and later Chair, of the University’s governing body, he played a key part in ensuring the University’s growth, development and success. In more recent years, he remained a loyal supporter and ambassador for the University and he will be sadly missed.”

Born and brought up in Prescot, Lancashire, Bishop John studied theology at the University of Manchester. During National Service in the Royal Air Force, he trained as a Russian interpreter, before going on for ecclesiastical training at Ridley Hall in Cambridge.

From his first curate’s job in 1956 in West Derby he become Vicar of Ditton, and then to Vicar of Southport and then on to Kirkby before becoming Bishop of Stafford.  After three years he was invited to become Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, where he stayed before moving to his final post, Bishop of Chelmsford.

In his obituary in the Church Times, Canon Philip Need said Bishop John commanded “huge respect for his tact, wisdom, and insight, he always tried to see both sides of a situation and was careful in his handling of those who perhaps felt that their view had not prevailed. With a gift of humour - his responses were always perfectly well-timed - and a great ability to charm others, his ministry of encouragement, support, and friendship was appreciated and will be remembered by many”.

As one of the 24 senior Bishops in the country he took his seat on the bench of bishops in the House of Lords. His many invitations included ones to speak at Sandringham and Windsor where he became well known to the Queen and to the Royal Family. The Queen invited him to become Clerk of the Closet and he was awarded the Knight Commander of the Victorian Order (KCVO) as a result.

During his retirement he served on the Press Complaints Commission and took the role of an assistant bishop, back in Suffolk, where he continued in active ministry for almost 25 years.

A devoted family man, he is survived by his wife, Pat, who he married in 1956, three sons, and seven grandchildren.

Bishop John’s funeral will take place on Thursday 21 January at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance is strictly limited. The service will be live-streamed on the Cathedral’s Facebook page at 12 noon for those who wish to participate online.

Read Canon Philip Need’s full obituary for Bishop John Waine in the Church Times