The Rev. Vernon Alfred Gotcher, Ph.D, died December 6, 2020. He was born July 21, 1932. He was preceded in death by his father, Vernon Alfred Gotcher, his mother Irma Gotcher, and his son, Stephen Gotcher.
UPDATE I/14/2021 Deanna Gotcher died January 14, 2021. Information about a memorial service will be announced at a later date.
He also is survived by his children John Gotcher, Nancy Gotcher, Mary Gotcher (life partner Faye Hudson), and Stephanie Matthews as well as grandchildren Laura Hett, Austin Gotcher, Steven Matthews, Brandon Momot-Gotcher and Corey Momot.
The family obituary said, “He taught us and everyone in his life that love is all that matters and that all are equal under God.”
Gotcher graduated from the University of the South, St. Luke’s Seminary, School of Theology, in Sewanee, Tennessee. He completed his Ph.D. at Texas Woman’s University and for many years maintained a practice in marriage and family therapy.
In the early 1960s, he fought for the desegregation of public school in Hazen, AR, and was instrumental in exposing the misuse of federal funds specifically targeted toward desegregation efforts in Arkansas.
He was the founding rector of St. Stephen’s in 1966 when they met in a former bait and tackle shop on Grapevine Highway.
During the summer of 2008 when it was apparent that the leadership of the diocese would leave The Episcopal Church, several of St. Stephen’s members began preparations to assure they would be able to transition to a new place of worship with the liturgy and loving environment of The Episcopal Church.
Even before the diocese began officially reorganizing in early 2009, Gotcher had come out of retirement to be priest in charge at St. Stephen’s. Because their building was claimed by departing bishop Jack Iker, the Episcopalians began worshiping in the Oak Crest Woman’s Club. This is where they were joined in worship by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori the Sunday after the Reorganizing Convention in February 2009.
Gotcher continued to lead them when they began worshiping at the Northeast Wedding Chapel in Hurst, and when they moved into their own building at 463 Harwood Drive in Hurst. They held their first worship service there on Sunday, August 24, 2014.
Bishop Rayford B. High Jr. dedicated and blessed the new building on Sunday, September 14, 2014.
As Vernon Gotcher ministered to his congregations, Deanna Gotcher also served in many roles — as a lay reader, a lay eucharistic minister, and on the altar guild. She was devoted to the Daughters of the King. She often accompanied her husband on visits to the sick and dying.
The Gotchers were honored by the people of St. Stephen’s on Saturday, September 27, 2014, at a dinner at Diamond Oaks Country Club in Haltom City.
The Gotchers were especially moved by the announcement that the sacristy in St. Stephen’s new building would be dedicated in their honor. Vernon Gotcher responded with his thanks, and his introduction of Deanna, “the chaplain of my soul.” Deanna Gotcher replied, “Well, if I’m the chaplain of his soul, he is the captain of mine.”
The crowd rose to its feet to applaud them both. On their website, St. Stephen’s has posted about Vernon Gotcher, “Together, he and Deanna encouraged us with unconditional love and a great sense of fun. We will always be grateful for their gifts to us.”
The entire diocese joins them in this gratitude.
Memorials are suggested to St. Stephen’s, Hurst, 463 W. Harwood Road, Hurst, TX 76054-294, or to the Mental Health America of Greater Tarrant County at this link or mail a check to Mental Health America of Greater Tarrant County, 3136 W. 4th Street, Fort Worth, TX 76107.