RIP: William Hopkins Folwell, 2nd bishop of Central Florida, dies at 97

Posted Feb 8, 2022

The Rt. Rev. William Hopkins Folwell was the 2nd bishop of the
Diocese of Central Florida, serving in that office from 1970–1989.

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. William Hopkins Folwell passed away on Feb. 7, 2022, in Hendersonville, North Carolina, according to an announcement shared by Central Florida Bishop Gregory O. Brewer.

Folwell was the second bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida, serving in that office from 1970-1989.

“Bill Folwell presided over a remarkable period of spiritual renewal and growth in the Diocese of Central Florida. He mentored and sent forth at least six bishops from Central Florida into the wider church, including me,” said the Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, the 8th bishop of Iowa, now retired, in an email to Episcopal News Service. Folwell was Epting’s mentor and friend for 60 years. “He was a great bishop and a great man. I shall miss him terribly,” he said.

Born in Port Washington, New York, on Oct. 26, 1924, Folwell graduated in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps, where he served from 1947-1949. Folwell and Christine “Chris” Elizabeth Cramp were married April 22, 1949. With his wife and their daughter Ann, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he entered Seabury Western Theological Seminary in the discernment process toward ordination, graduating with a bachelor of divinity degree in 1953. A lifelong learner, he would go on to be awarded in 1970 two doctor of divinity degrees, from Seabury Western Theological Seminary and from the University of the South School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Bishop Henry I. Louttit Sr. ordained Folwell to the diaconate June 22, 1952, and to the priesthood Dec. 22, 1952, in the Diocese of South Florida where Folwell served as the vicar of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Plant City from 1952-1955. The Folwells welcomed their son Mark to the family in 1952. Folwell also served as the priest-in-charge at St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Mulberry from 1954-1955.

In 1955 the family moved to Louisiana where he became the chaplain at St. Martin’s School in New Orleans and the vicar of St. Augustine in Metairie. In 1956, Folwell accepted a call to serve as the rector at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, Titusville; during his service there, he was elected to be the president of the Florida Episcopal Schools Association, a position he held until 1959. In that year, the Folwells’ third child Susan was born. All Saints Episcopal Church in Winter Park called Folwell to be the rector in 1959, a position he held until his election and consecration as the second bishop of Central Florida on Feb. 9, 1970. He served as bishop until his retirement in 1989.

Folwell was preceded in death by his wife of 68 years, Chris, and survived by their three adult children and their families. Additional information, including funeral service details, will be posted here.