The Rev. P. Kingsley Smith, longtime Trinity Episcopal Church rector and Towson community leader, dies

The Rev. P. Kingsley Smith speaks during the Founder's Day ceremony to honor Anna Austen McCulloch by her grave near Immanuel Episcopal Church in Sparks Glencoe in September 2016.

The Rev. P. Kingsley Smith, former Trinity Episcopal Church rector who spent 49 years with his congregation and was a Towson community leader, died of pneumonia Dec. 27 at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 93 and lived in Riderwood.

Born Philip Kingsley Smith in Toronto, he was the son of Frank Hinman Smith, an office manager, and Amy MacKenzie Smith, a stenographer.


He was a 1946 graduate of Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, and earned a classics degree at Amherst College.

The Rev. Smith returned to Taft to teach and then joined the Marine Corps, and served at the Recruit Depot in San Diego as a company commander.


He met his future wife, Mary Lee “Breezy” Evans, at a college party. When she left her glasses at the event, he returned them and took her to dinner. They married in 1951.

The Rev. Smith attended Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria and later changed his military affiliation to the Navy. He attended Naval Chaplaincy School.

“He had a sense of humor and a sense of caring,” said his son, David MacKenzie Smith. “We are amazed at the love and devotion he had for my mother.”

In 1956 Maryland Episcopal Bishop Noble C. Powell ordained him to the diaconate and he was assigned as assistant rector at Towson’s Trinity Church, where he remained.

“He prided himself on never canceling a service,” said Mary Pierpont Hall, the former church administrative assistant. “The good old Marine in him came out. It may have been a blizzard and two people in the choir loft, but the holy day was to be observed.”

She recalled one of his favorite lines, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

He was ordained a priest a year later and served as the church’s assistant until 1969, when he was named rector. He remained at the post until 1995.

“His sermons made me think. His words were an appeal to heart and to my intellect,” said Jane Turnbull, a friend and former member of his congregation. “I recall a time when there was a protest in Towson and Kingsley incorporated the event into his sermon. He told us that people had a right to express their opinion.”


She also said: “He loved history and he loved the history of Towson. He also had a charming sense of humor.”

“He was an avid historian, trained in the classics, from which he could quote accurately until the day he died. He was a committed priest, consummate teacher, and mentor to a host of younger priests,” said the Rt. Rev. Mary D. Glasspool.

“He was known for clever aphorisms, ‘We go to church to have our questions answered. Instead, we have our answers questioned. That clears the decks for having our questions questioned.’” said the Rt. Rev. Glasspool, bishop assistant of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

The Rev. Smith also served at what is now Holy Comforter Church in Lutherville, a former Trinity mission.

He was also a chaplain at Goucher College and Towson University, and conducted Sunday services at the Sheppard-Pratt Hospital.

The Rev. Smith also taught at the Peabody Institute, Goucher and Towson. He wrote “Towson Under God,” a history of the churches of central Baltimore County, published in 1976 by the Baltimore County Library.


He was a past president of the School Board Nominating Convention, a board member of the Towson YMCA and a founder of Historic Towson Inc., and he belonged to the Towson Area Ministerial Association.

In a 2010 Baltimore Sun article, the Rev. Smith recalled the beginnings of Historic Towson, a preservation group he assisted in organizing at his church’s parish house.

“More and more buildings were being torn down,” said the Rev. Smith. “We were losing our definitive look, just becoming another suburb. ... The built environment has a tone here that is marked clearly by the number of handsome older buildings still standing.”

His daughter Kimberley Anne Nichols said: “My father enjoyed the fun things in life. He spent time with his family, at holiday gatherings, and made people laugh with witticisms and wordplay.”

As a military chaplain he had taken part in more than 70 calls on families who lost Marines killed in Vietnam.

He served on the Episcopal Bishops for the Armed Forces Advisory Council and also counseled conscientious objectors.


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He studied biblical Hebrew and American religious history at the Johns Hopkins University, the Talmud at the Baltimore Hebrew University and New Testament Greek at Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C., and was a fellow of the College of Preachers.

From his retirement until 2015 he was the historiographer of the diocese, conducting research, teaching classes and writing essays on the history of racism in the Maryland Episcopal Church from colonial times to the present.

In retirement the Rev. Smith had numerous temporary assignments. He served St. George’s Episcopal Church in Perryman, Sherwood Church in Cockeysville, the Church of the Redemption in Baltimore, St. John’s in Kingsville, St. Stephen’s in Crownsville, Good Shepherd in Ruxton and Immanuel in Glencoe. He served the Pickersgill and Broadmead retirement communities.

Most recently he presided at a biblical studies group at Brightview Senior Living, where he and his wife resided.

He had been a bicycle rider and took trips around England, the Netherlands and the Eastern Shore. He spent summers at Lake Eaton in the Adirondacks.

A funeral will be held Jan. 14 at 11 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church at 120 Allegheny Ave.


The Rev. Smith is survived by his wife of 71 years, Mary Lee “Breezy” Evans; three daughters, Kimberley Anne Nichols of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Bonnie Kingsley Smith of Towson and Gwendolen Smith Probst of Hampstead; a son, David MacKenzie Smith of Milton, Vermont; six granddaughters; and 10 great-grandchildren.