Former COB President Bishop Choy dies at age 103

by | Jan 4, 2022 | UMC News

council of bishops

Originally published by The Council of Bishops at https://www.unitedmethodistbishops.org/newsdetail/former-cob-president-bishop-choy-dies-15835897

The Council of Bishops is saddened to announce the death of Bishop Wilbur Wong Yan Choy, a retired Bishop of The United Methodist Church. He died last week in Washington State at age 103.

Bishop Choy was elected to the episcopacy in 1972 by the Western Jurisdictional Conference.  As bishop, he served the Seattle Area for eight years and the San Francisco Area for four years. He was president of the Council of Bishops 1983-1984. He retired in 1984. He was the first Asian American elected as a UMC bishop in the United States.

Current COB President Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey described Bishop Choy as “a trailblazer, pioneer and a leader in diversifying The United Methodist Church.”

He was born May 5, 1918,  in Stockton, California, and attended Stockton Junior College (A.A.), the College of the Pacific (B.A.), and the Pacific School of Religion on (M. Div.). He also held honorary doctorates from the Pacific School of Religion and the University of Puget Sound.

On September 26, 1940, Wilbur Choy married Grace Ying Hom. They had four children: Randolph W., Jonathan W., Phyllis W. (LeRoy Seibert), and Donnell W. Choy. Grace Choy died on December 26, 1977.

Wilbur Choy was ordained deacon in 1946 by Bishop James Baker. He was ordained elder by Bishop Donald Tippett and joined the California-Oriental Provisional Conference.

In 1954, he was appointed to serve St. Mark’s Methodist Church, Stockton, in the California-Nevada Annual Conference and later he held pastorates in Woodland and Sacramento, California. In 1967 he was chaplain of the California Senate. From 1969 until his election to the episcopacy in 1972 by the Western Jurisdictional Conference, Wilbur Choy was District Superintendent of the Bay View District.

On December 29, 1982, Bishop Choy married the Rev. Nancy S. Yamasaki, a United Methodist clergywoman.

Memorial service arrangements will be announced later.


Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications
Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
110 Maryland Ave. NE  # 301
Washington , D.C. 20002
(202) 748-5172


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Author: DSC Communications

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