Tribute to gay archdeacon who stood guard outside Buckingham Palace and went on to become leader of the arts in San Francisco

The Venerable Anthony Turney
The Venerable Anthony Turney

The long-lost sister of an Archdeacon who grew up in Aylesbury has spoken of her brother as a ‘wonderful man’ following his death.

The Venerable Anthony Turney died on July 4 in a San Francisco hospice at the age of 76, after three years battling cancer.

His sister Margaret Pawson, who tracked him down in 2001 after they were separated in babyhood, said: “He was a wonderful man. He managed to meet all of his siblings – he was the missing link. We had him for 13 years, and I feel very privileged to have met him.”

Anthony enjoyed a long-distance friendship with Margaret from her home in Nottinghamshire, but his childhood was spent in Aylesbury.

Born Anthony Hipkin in Sutton, England, in 1937, he was adopted aged four by Sidney and Ida Turney, who lived at 1 Brookside Terrace in Aylesbury town centre.

He joined the army at the age of 17 and enjoyed a stint as a ceremonial guard outside Buckingham Palace before emigrating to the States in 1968.

His talent for leadership in the arts was unearthed and he launched himself as an independent event producer in New York.

One of his proudest moments was presenting Buckminster Fuller (an inventor and visionary) at the Carnegie Hall.

Anthony had a love for travelling and spent time in St Louis, Atlanta and Washington DC before settling in San Francisco.

The death of his partner Jimmy Brambaugh from Aids in 1992 hit him hard.

To help with his grief, he completed a panel of the Aids memorial quilt in Jimmy’s honour.

Just months later, he was appointed CEO of the NAMES Project Foundation and in just three years transported 42,000 panels of the quilt to the National Mall in Washington DC, to be seen by 1.2 million people.

He found his spiritual home at the Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, where he served as a parishioner, Canon for Development and Archdeacon for the Arts. He also helped victims of Hurricane Katrina to rebuild their homes.

As an openly gay member of the clergy, Anthony was a campaigner for equal marriage rights and the LGBT community .

Anthony’s family and friends celebrated his life during a service at the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on Monday.