On January 15, joined by his two immediate predecessors as Cathedral dean, the Very Rev. Gary Hall led a wide cross-section of friends, colleagues, family, and admirers from across the nation and the world in paying respects to, and giving thanks for the life of, Canon Joe Lewis Allbritton: a man of abundant high spirits and quietly dedicated generosity whose legacy includes the completed Cathedral building itself.
In 1984, as president of Riggs Bank and a close friend of the Cathedral, Allbritton made possible the conclusion of a large mortgage that the Cathedral had taken out to enable construction during difficult years in the 1970s. A ceremony for the final payment that was held in the Riggs boardroom drew strong comparisons to a similar scene that had taken place in 1905, when Bishop Henry Yates Satterlee completed payments for the mortgage on the Cathedral’s land. “No one can ever appreciate what it is to be delivered from this burden,” Satterlee had written. “I feel like one released from prison.” Bishop Walker, in reading those words again, remarked that he, “as sixth bishop of Washington,” could “share those feelings with the first bishop. He spoke of his wonder at how he could have the courage to face the financial problems and added that it could only have been accomplished through ‘God’s grace.’”
Joe Allbritton remained an agent of God’s grace for the Cathedral in countless ways, including broadcasting the Christmas Festival Holy Eucharist from 1985 to 2010. In 2000, in being installed as an honorary canon of the Cathedral, he received the highest honor the Cathedral Chapter can bestow.