Rev. James Armstrong Trimble, Jr., former rector of St. Paul’s in Chestnut Hill

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 The Reverend James Armstrong Trimble, Jr., D.D., 89, died peacefully on September 6 in Martha’s Vineyard where he was vacationing. 

Born on June 13, 1931, in East Falls to Ella and James, Trimble spent his adult life in service to others as a minister in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. He was a proud graduate of Central High School (192nd Class), the University of Pennsylvania (1953) and Virginia Theological Seminary (1956), from which he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1989. In 1956, he married Nadine Canfield, with whom he had three beloved children, Martin, Emile and Philip. After Nadine’s death, Jim found love a second time, marrying Gail (Hutchison) in December 1996.

Jim’s long career stretched throughout the Philadelphia region and into Maine. Ordained a priest in 1957, Jim first served as an associate minister at Grace Church, Mt. Airy and then founded the Church of the Redemption in Southampton in 1958, which he led through significant growth until 1963.  From 1963 to 1978, he was chaplain at Episcopal Academy and in 1978 became the 18th rector of Christ Church Philadelphia. During his time as rector, Christ Church celebrated the 300th anniversary of its founding. After retiring from Christ Church in 1998, Jim continued to lead parishes in an interim capacity, including the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Mediator (West Philadelphia) and St. Paul’s (Chestnut Hill).

Jim served as president of the standing committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania and on a number of boards, including Episcopal Community Services, Episcopal Hospital and the National Museum of Jewish History. He also worked with the Reinvestment Fund (RF) to raise an investment pool of more than $5 million from Episcopal parishes that were then invested into affordable housing projects.  Jim’s leadership also helped propel the Philadelphia Interfaith Action’s partnership with RF and city leaders to develop the 150 Nehemiah Homes in West Philadelphia. Finally, Jim served for 51 years as the July rector at St. Christopher’s-by-the-Sea in Winter Harbor, Maine. 

Trimble’s greatest joy was his work with students at Episcopal Academy, where his teaching, preaching, and counsel helped form a generation of young people, especially during the political and social upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s.  Known for his humility, sharp mind and love of history, Trimble delighted in reading biographies, watching his beloved Phillies and Eagles, flying kites with his grandchildren and keeping crazy Irish Setters in Maine, tending his community garden off South Street, finishing crossword and jigsaw puzzles, living in Cambridge, England with Nadine while on sabbaticals and traveling the world with Gail.

Trimble was preceded in death by his first wife, Nadine, and his children, Emile and Philip. He is survived by his wife, Gail, and son, Martin, daughters-in-law, Jennifer Trimble and Colette de Marneffe, and grandchildren James Thomas (JT), Isabelle, Elias, Delia, and Shane, who will miss him dearly, as will Gail’s daughters, Suzanne Biemiller (Rob MacRae) and Sarah Biemiller (Mark Alexander) and their daughters Caroline and Jane MacRae and Sophie Alexander. Interment will be private and a public memorial service to celebrate his life will be held in 2021 when health conditions permit. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jim’s honor to the Episcopal Academy Scholarship Fund, the Christ Church Preservation Trust and Episcopal Community Services.

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