With sadness we share the news of the death of the Rev. Dr. Alexander Clinton Zabriskie, Jr., age 89, on March 4, 2019 in Sykesville, MD. He had served as interim priest at Christ Church, Teaneck (1985-86) and St. Clement’s, Hawthorne (1986-87).
Sandy, as he was called, was born in Alexandria, VA to Mary Ethelynn Tyler and The Rev. Alexander C. Zabriskie, and was raised at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.
Sandy graduated from Groton School in 1948 and Princeton University in 1952. He was active in the World Council of Churches Student Christian Association and later worked for a year with the World Council of Churches in Salzburg and Trieste helping to resettle refugees from different cultures after WWII. This experience profoundly influenced his values and his desire to serve the poor and dispossessed. Following a year at New College, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, he attended Virginia Theological Seminary and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1956, following in the steps of his father and two older brothers, the late George and Philip Zabriskie.
He served for 12 years in the Missionary Diocese of Alaska under Bishop Bill Gordon, first at St. Matthews in Fairbanks and then for 11 years as rector of St. Mary’s in Anchorage. St. Mary’s and its lay leaders reflected the ethnic diversity of Alaska. He was active in the community, building relationships with African American congregations to support the civil rights movement, establishing the Creative Play Preschool, FISH, and other outreach projects.
While in Alaska he married Marguerite “Margy” Morey Cook, a widow, and adopted her infant daughter, Katrina Morey. They had four more children: William Tyler, Paul Clinton, John Lane and Sally Gray Zabriskie.
In 1969, Sandy was called to Trinity Church in Bethlehem, PA. During 15 years at Trinity Church, he introduced the Cursillo Movement, fellowship with Spanish Roman Catholics, new worship liturgies, ecumenical involvement and outreach to the poor, including a soup kitchen in the parish hall. He became actively opposed to the Vietnam War, and resettled Vietnamese ex-soldiers and families in Bethlehem. He started a peace ministry, and in 1985 he received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminar, writing his thesis about nurturing congregational ministries to advocate for nuclear disarmament.
In 1983, Sandy and Margy went on sabbatical to Africa where they met with Bishop Desmond Tutu in Johannesburg, attended church illegally in Soweto during apartheid, visited their son Tyler, a missionary assistant to Bishop Mbona Kolini in Zaire, and attended a Sharing of Ministries Abroad (SOMA) conference in Kenya.
Sandy and Margy were in their element bringing diverse congregations together as loving communities despite economic, cultural and educational differences. Bishop Spong called him to serve as interim priest in two multi-racial congregations in New Jersey – Christ Church in Teaneck and later St. Clement’s in Hawthorne. In 1987 Bishop Reus called him to serve the English-speaking congregation at St. John’s Cathedral in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sandy retired to Burlington, VT in 1995 after open heart surgery.
The Zabriskie home on Lake Champlain in Burlington provided lots of cross-country skiing, biking, tennis and beautiful scenery to paint. Sandy and Margy became involved with the growing refugee communities, especially South Sudanese young men. In retirement he served in both Episcopal and Lutheran Churches, traveled to St. Bart’s annually as visiting priest to the Anglican congregation, and went as chaplain to the House of the Redeemer in NYC. He served on various boards and was a member of Rotary in San Juan and Burlington. Together Sandy and Margy guided tours in Israel and Alaska, led work groups to Honduras for Episcopal Relief and Development, and took trips to Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua with Witness for Peace. They went on a healing mission to Jamaica and in later years enjoyed cruises in Europe.
Sandy loved vacationing with family and friends in Hancock Point, ME, sailing on Frenchman’s Bay, sharing his home-smoked salmon and guacamole and adding secret ingredients to pancake breakfasts. He charmed those he met with a twinkle in his eye, a kind word, and a warm hug.
In addition to his wife of 61 years, Margy, Sandy is survived by his children, Katrina Tolan, W. Tyler Zabriskie and wife Kristi, Paul Zabriskie and wife Beth Holtzman , J. Lane Zabriskie and wife Barbara, and Sally Zabriskie; his 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild; his sister Mary Forrest Zabriskie; his sisters-in-law Thyrza Zabriskie and Beverly Zabriskie; and many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
His funeral will be held Saturday, March 9, 2019, 2 PM at Integrace Fairhaven in the Bishop’s Chapel in Sykesville, MD, with reception following.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name to Episcopal Relief and Development or your local hospice would be appreciated.
Good and gracious God, the light of the faithful and shepherd of souls, you sent your servant Sandy to be a priest in your Church to feed your sheep with your word and to guide them by his example; give us the grace to keep the faith he taught and to follow in his footsteps. We entrust him into your unfailing mystery of Love and Hope through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.