The Rev. Thomas W. Logan, the oldest practicing African American priest in the nation's Episcopal Church and a founder of the African American Museum in Philadelphia, died of natural causes Wednesday at home in Center City. He had recently turned 100.
Mr. Logan served as a minister at the Calvary Episcopal Church at 41st and Brown Streets in Northern Liberties for 44 years and more recently as an associate priest at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas on Lancaster Avenue. He also was a dean in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, where he was a canon, or adviser to the bishop.
"He was a true icon, legend, and jewel of the church, community, and world," said the Rev. Martini Shaw, rector at St. Thomas. "He will be immensely missed by many. We will miss his wisdom, guidance, and humor."
Shaw had invited Mr. Logan to come out of retirement and assist him with the gospel and communion after spotting him in a pew in his church.
"We offer our thanks to Almighty God for sharing with this world such a man of character and honor for over 100 years of earthly life," Shaw said.
Mr. Logan grew up in Philadelphia with eight siblings. His father was a minister and his mother a teacher. Mr. Logan's sister, Phyllis Logan Simms, said her older brother was "full of life" and "all excitement." She recalled how he would operate a movie projector as a boy and charge his friends admission to watch cowboy movies in the basement.
She said the family knew he would become a minister because of the way he perfectly enunciated his words, offered help whenever it was needed, and always advised her to "keep your courage and be strong."
"My father was a devout churchman, and I guess you could say I was nudged to follow him," Mr. Logan was quoted as saying in an Inquirer article in March.
His niece Anita Trotman said Mr. Logan was "a very happy man, a people person" who touched many lives with his ministry and his membership in various civic groups. He was a student-athlete at Lincoln University when he met his future wife, Hermione, who is 101, when he was playing football at Cheyney College, where her father was president.
"They caught each other's eye and began to write letters to each other," Trotman said.
After a five-year courtship, they married. They were together 74 years and had a son, the late Rev. Thomas W. Logan Jr., who would consult with his father on sermons, she said. Their sermons also became a lively competition, she recalled.
Mr. Logan graduated from Central High School in 1930 and earned a bachelor of arts degree from Lincoln in 1935. He earned another bachelor's degree in sacred theology from the General Theological Seminary in New York City and in 1941 earned a master's degree from the Philadelphia Divinity School.
The recipient of seven honorary degrees, Mr. Logan also served on the board of Haverford Hospital and was longtime grand master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, the state's black Freemasons.
Mr. Logan had another distinction, according to Shaw: He was the oldest living member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., an African American fraternity. He also was a life member of the NAACP.
In 1945, Mr. Logan merged Calvary Monumental Church with St. Michael's Church, creating one of the first interracial congregations in Philadelphia.
In addition to his wife and sister, Mr. Logan is survived by a brother, Leonard; five grandchildren; and other relatives.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, 6361 Lancaster Ave., Philadelphia, followed by vesper services until 9 p.m. A second viewing will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12, at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, 38th and Chestnut Streets, in Philadelphia, followed by a Requiem Mass. Burial will be in Eden Cemetery in Darby.