Rt. Rev. John Thomas Tarrant
1952 - 2020
{ "" }
Share John's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota, John passed away suddenly and peacefully on August, 23, 2020 at his home in Dalton, MA.

John was born on February 17, 1952, to Robert Clair Newton Tarrant and Letitia Marie (Church) Tarrant in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in Millington, Michigan. He was a life-long Episcopalian, nurtured in the faith at St. John's the Baptist Church in Otter Lake, MI. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1974 with a Political Science degree. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1983, and ordained into the priesthood on Feb. 11, 1984. John married his wife Patricia (Donaldson) in 1990.

The Rt. Rev. John Thomas Tarrant was consecrated Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of South Dakota on October 31, 2009 in Sioux Falls, and consecrated 10th Bishop of South Dakota on February 2, 2010, retiring in 2019. As a priest John served Episcopal congregations in Connecticut as Missioner, Greater Waterbury Episcopal Ministry, Middlebury, and in Western Massachusetts; St. Paul's Gardner, St. Paul's Holyoke, Church of the Atonement Westfield, St. Paul's Stockbridge, and in Pierre, SD Trinity Church. At his time of death, John was serving St. Stephen's Pittsfield as interim rector.

John frequently explained his positions and priorities in terms of "The Kingdom of God." His statements were salted with that image; "The overriding challenge is to use Jesus' vision of the Kingdom of God as the plumb line to measure all of our ministries," or "We cannot fully live the Kingdom vision without each other."

Throughout his ministry John was willing to be present with people. He modeled respectful listening as part of reconciliation. His approach, without an agenda, was "listening, listening, and more listening...hearing people's stories and telling our own, putting faces to the pain and the joy will go a long way toward understanding." The fruit of that are people with real lives, real joys and real sorrows ministered through the Episcopal Church. His passion for justice motivated John's witness at Standing Rock. His humble ministry among indigenous people made John a wonderful storyteller of God's love for diversity.

John returned to western Massachusetts after his retirement. He continued to love his ministry that God had given him to undertake. Having served God in partnership with those he touched was a great blessing. John's retirement goal was to serve God through his family; his "bucket list" was short, simply to be available to family and to get to better know his grandchildren.

Fight the good fight of faith that you may finish your course with JOY!

Bishop Tarrant is survived by his wife Patricia, son Jeremy and grandchildren: Hinto, Remington and Adeline of Jacksonville, NC; siblings Richard Tarrant, Robert (Karen) Tarrant, Pat (Jim) Saeger, and Virginia (Chuck) Mannistow. He also leaves 8 stepchildren, Jessica Hansen, Mary (Alec) Gillman, Jon (Stephanie) Hansen, Anna Hansen, Neil Hansen, Eric (Alicia) Hansen, Holly (David) Fanion, Carl Hansen, and 20 step-grandchildren and 10 step-great-grandchildren. John was predeceased by two stepdaughters, Heidi Hannon and Amy Fanion.


Calling hours are on Friday, August 28th, from 4-7pm at Dery Funeral Home, 54 Bradford St, Pittsfield, MA. Face coverings are required. A private memorial service is to be held at St. Stephen's Church.

For those unable to attend, the service will be live stream broadcast on Saturday, August 29, 2020 at 1pm. To view the service, set a reminder or share with a friend, please visit the YouTube channel for the "Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts," and see "Rite of Christian Burial for The Right Rev. John Thomas Tarrant"; or https://youtu.be/wz56PI1wLlA

In lieu of flowers, donations in John's memory can go towards the ministry of Cathedral of the Beloved OR St. Stephen's Table. Please make check payable to 'St Stephen's Church' with donation intent in the memo. St. Stephen's, 67 East St., Pittsfield MA 01201

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Aug. 27, 2020.
Calling hours
04:00 - 07:00 PM
01:00 PM
live streamed at https://youtu.be/wz56PI1wLlA
Funeral services provided by
Order by phone: (866) 764-7853
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by The Berkshire Eagle
Not sure what to say?
6 entries
August 30, 2020
As Bishop Scruton said in his eulogy, it's hard to fathom that John is no longer among us. It's so surreal to me; I cannot imagine how you, his family, and esp. you Pat, must feel. My most sincere condolences.
Lisa Thorne
August 29, 2020
May the peace of the Lord be with you all at this sad time>
Joyce Armstrong
August 28, 2020
Group of 10 Memorial Trees
Plant Memorial Trees
Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Maribeth Barney
August 27, 2020
Go in peace and be of good courage...
August 27, 2020
I was a part time secretary when Father John was at The Church of Atonement in Westfield MA. My condolences go out to his family. Jeremy I am so sorry for your loss of you father.
Karen Newman
August 27, 2020
Just last Sunday after the service, I said to John, "I want you to know that when you've finished with the announcements and switch to your 'Church-voice' I get goose pimples!" Rest well John, and I will cherish those goose pimples.
BethAnn Hamling
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences