The Rev. William James Edward Apsley, a former electrical engineer whose later career as a Methodist minister spanned more than 40 years, died in his sleep June 15 at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Middle River resident was 99.
Mr. Apsley was born and raised in a Bank Street rowhouse in East Baltimore. He was a 1923 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and earned a degree in electrical engineering in 1926 from the Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Apsley held positions with American Telephone & Telegraph Co. and the Roland Park Co. and was chairman of the scientific-technical course at City College before joining Pennsylvania Water & Power Co. as a test engineer in 1930. He also taught in the engineering night school at the Johns Hopkins University and was an associate engineer for Pennsylvania Water & Power when he began attending services with his daughter at North Avenue Methodist Church in the mid-1940s.
"He had been an agnostic when he came under the influence of the Rev. Norman O. Scribner Sr. at North Avenue Methodist. In 1948, he became a local preacher, which is the first step for one intending to become a Methodist clergyman," said his daughter, the Rev. Eleanor Kendall-Dasch of Middle River, a retired United Methodist minister.
Mr. Apsley gave up his career as an engineer and entered Westminster Theological Seminary in Westminster, earning a degree in sacred theology in 1952. He then received a master's in divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.
Mr. Apsley began his religious career at Fork United Methodist Church and subsequently served at St. John's United Methodist Church in Lutherville and for two years at St. John's of Hamilton United Methodist before temporarily leaving the ministry in 1970.
For two years, he worked for Maps Inc., an aerial photography company, before returning to the church in 1971 as minister of visitation at Parkside United Methodist. He held a similar position at Timonium United Methodist Church until being named interim pastor of Glen Mar United Methodist Church in Ellicott City in 1978.
When the Rev. Anders Lunt was appointed as Glen Mar's pastor in 1979, Mr. Apsley remained as associate pastor until 1983, and continued to serve as pastor emeritus.
"When I came here, Glen Mar had been in decline. He kept it together and laid the groundwork for its growth," Mr. Lunt said. "He was a gifted minister who remained intellectually sharp well into his 90s. 'Warm' and 'gracious' are the words to describe him. He was a man who was deeply committed to serving others."
Mr. Apsley was also Protestant chaplain for 20 years at Heartlands Senior Living Village in Ellicott City until retiring in 2002.
"He brought to the ministry all of his talents for art, music, acting and poetry. His sermons were pertinent, relevant and not full of fire and brimstone," his daughter said. "He was a loving man who always gave of his heart and soul."
Mr. Apsley was also a talented artist who enjoyed working in watercolors and pen and ink. His subject matter, family members said, was Baltimore cityscapes and churches. He had also been a model railroad fan.
He was married for 59 years to the former Charlotte M. Rusteberg, who died in 1986.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Glen Mar church, 8430 Glenmar Road.
Mr. Apsley also is survived by three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.