In Tribute to Bishop Paul Andrews Duffey
December 23, 1920—March 18, 2012
(Dr. Karl K. Stegall) – When King David learned the news of the death of Abner, he turned to his friends near him and said, “Do you not know that a prince and great man has fallen this day in Israel?” (II Samuel 3:38) I share those same sentiments today as I reflect upon the death of Bishop Paul Andrews Duffey, who has been my “father in the ministry” over the past 45 years.
Bishop Duffey was truly one of God’s humble servants. He was a Christian gentleman in the highest sense of the word. He always lifted our spirits to the higher, nobler things of life. He modeled for all of us in a unique way Christian piety and social action.
Born a twin on December 13, 1920 in Brownsville, Tennessee, Bishop Duffey moved with his parents when he was eight years of age to East Tallassee, Alabama. He graduated from Tallassee High School, Birmingham Southern College, and Vanderbilt University before returning to the Alabama-West Florida Conference in 1946. He married Louise Calhoun on June 20, 1944 at the Church Street United Methodist in Selma, Alabama. God blessed them with a son, Paul, Jr., and a daughter, Melanie.
He served six different appointments in the Alabama-West Florida Conference: Abbeville (Ala.); First Church, Marion (Ala.); Dexter Avenue, Montgomery (Ala); First Church, Pensacola (Ala.); First Church, Dothan, (Ala.); and First Church, Montgomery (Ala.). He served as the Montgomery District Superintendent before being elected a bishop in 1980. For eight years, he served as the episcopal leader of the Louisville Area.
One of my favorite definitions of a saint is “one who makes it easier for others to believe in God.” Bishop Duffey was that kind of individual. He made goodness contagious. He spent a lifetime modeling those words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times and in all ways, and when necessary, use words!”
To this gentle spiritual giant, I would express the words of Charles Wesley,
“Servant of God, well done!
Thy glorious warfare’s past;
The battle’s fought, the race is won,
And thou art crowned at last!”
More photographs of Bishop Duffey may be found here in our gallery.
Services for Bishop Duffey will be Friday, March 23, at First United Methodist Church, Montgomery. Visitation will be in the church fellowship hall at 10 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary. A private burial will be held prior to the services. The family will also greet friends on Thursday, March 22, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at Leak Memory Chapel in Montgomery, Ala.