One of Utah's best-known religious leaders, the Very Rev. William F. Maxwell, dean of The Cathedral Church of St. Mark, has retired and left Salt Lake City for Port Townsend, Wash., on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula.

His successor at St. Mark's is the Rev. Jack C. Potter of Tucson, Ariz., who will assume his new duties early in December.The Rev. Maxwell, who has spent more than 43 years as an Episcopal priest, began his ministry at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in 1978. He celebrated his final Holy Eucharist as dean of Salt Lake's cathedral church, 231 E. 100 South, on Nov. 1. He and his wife, Sue, left for Washington on Friday.

Although retired, the Rev. Maxwell said he plans to help out at St. Paul's Church in Port Townsend, the oldest Episcopal church in the Diocese of Olympia.

"Otherwise, I expect to spend a lot of time with my hobby, carpentry and cabinetmaking, and fishing and digging clams.

"I love the sea and the mountains in Washington. My wife and I have many friends in the Seattle and Olympia area, and we have two children living in the area," the Rev. Maxwell said.

He and his wife plan to restore an old frame Victorian home where they will live in Port Townsend.

The Rev. Maxwell, who turned 65 on Sept. 18, was born in Philadelphia. "My father was in the oil business and we moved eight times when I was a boy. I finally graduated from high school in Dallas, Tex.

"I grew up an Episcopalian and was active in church wherever I lived. The bishop of the church in Dallas needed a driver and I started driving him while I was in high school. I made up my mind I wanted to be a priest."

After graduating from high school, he entered Southern Methodist University in Texas and graduated at the age of 20 with a degree in English. He then entered Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Illinois where he received his master of divinity degree in 1947.

A fellow of The College of Preachers, the Rev. Maxwell received an honorary doctorate in 1967 from Seabury-Western.

He was Episcopal chaplain at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., from 1950 to 1954; rector of St. Christopher's church in Oak Park, Ill., from 1954 to 1960; and rector of St. James' Church, Bozeman, Mont., from 1960 to 1964.

The Rev. Maxwell served as dean of St. James' Cathedral, Chicago, from 1964 to 1972 and was rector of St. John's Church, Tulsa, Okla., six years before coming to The Cathedral Church of St. Mark.

He has served as a volunteer chaplain at the Utah State Prison, was a member and former chairman of the Utah State Citizens Coalition for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and a member of Planned Parenthood boards in Salt Lake City.

Looking back recently at his career, which has spanned more than four decades of turbulent political activities in the United States and ecclesiastical and moral upheaval throughout the world, the Rev. Maxwell said some of the most trying times in his ministry were the civil rights activities of the 1960s.

He said Chicago was a hotbed of civil rights agitation when he was dean of the St. James' Cathedral there.

Other dramatic changes he has seen, he said, include the changing role of women in society and in religion.

"I am gratified by the growing interest of Americans in religion, the increasing church attendance nationwide and the growing financial support of mainline churches in America.

"One of the most disquieting things I have seen happening in America, however, is the radical environmental movement and the strident one-issue activism that seems to have taken over some people's lives.

"The world is too big, life is too short and there is too much to learn and to discover and to ponder for anyone to be so shortsighted as to be fully involved in only one problem or one cause," the Rev. Maxwell said.

"I was a minority, certainly, in Utah, being an Episcopal, but I have been a minority all my life, so that never made me uncomfortable in Salt Lake City.

"Utah is a wonderful place and I will always treasure my associations here with people of my own church as well as those from a variety of other churches, especially those from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

The Rev. Maxwell said he believes the function of human beings is to love each other, to love God and to love God's world. "I have spent my life sharing myself, my love and my ideas - not always successfully.

"I have tried to teach people to see Christ in others and in themselves and to love and respect themselves and others for this aspect, as well as for others.

"It is a great feeling to be high on love," he said.