The Rev. Marcia Engblom, rector of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Fair Oaks, died Friday, two days after collapsing and hitting her head at home. She was 57.
She was taken off life support and the Right Rev. Barry Beisner, bishop of the Northern California Diocese, administered last rites Friday.
The cause of death was not known, although she had a history of heart illness, including surgery in recent months.
Just a week before her collapse, the Rev. Engblom talked about her recovery on a website for family and friends. "I am also getting bored with not having the energy I had 18 months ago," she wrote.
The Rev. Engblom met her husband, Dennis Engblom, in the early 1970s in Monmouth, Ore., at Oregon College of Education, now called Western Oregon University.
Dennis Engblom said the woman he knew then as Marcia Wynn made an immediate impression when she walked into his life.
It was a summer day, and Engblom said he was walking down the main street of campus when he heard a young woman's voice.
"Hi Dennis," he recalled her saying. "I turned, and I was looking directly into the sun. So it was as if the sun has spoken to me.
"I strained my eyes. And she came walking out of the sun. Something in my being said, 'We have to check this out.' "
The couple were married in her parents' backyard in Monmouth in 1974.
More than a decade later, Dennis Engblom recalled, his wife spoke to him about becoming a priest.
"She always had a strong spiritual connection and a need to express it," he said. "In the mid-1980s, she came to me one day and said, 'You know, I think I want to be a priest.'
"My response was, 'I've been waiting for you to say that. What took you so long?' "
She attended Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley. She was ordained Dec. 10, 1994, in Trinity Cathedral in midtown Sacramento, where she spent the next seven years as a priest.
After that, she became interim priest at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Auburn and then served as interim priest at St. Luke's in Woodland before arriving at St. Francis.
She became known for her warm and supportive manner.
She was her church's clerical face for efforts to make everyone feel welcome, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members.
"She was real special to us," said Shireen Miles, who met the priest at Trinity Cathedral when Miles moved back to Sacramento with her partner and a young daughter.
Her daughter, now an adult, was baptized by the Rev. Engblom.
"She always identified that justice was important for everyone," said Miles, who was one of the founders of the local Integrity chapter, which focuses on inclusion of the LGBT community.
The Rev. Engblom was also active in programs for veterans, the homeless, pet therapy and sign language interpretation.
"Marcia had an infectious laugh, a creative spirit and she was a gifted and fearless preacher," wrote the Rev. James Richardson in a message to The Bee. He is a former Bee reporter and Trinity Cathedral priest whose ministry is now in Charlottesville, Va.
"It's been very very hard for the congregation," said the Rev. Canon Britt Olson, who had been in seminary with the Rev. Engblom in the early 1990s.
"She's known for her positive spirit, for reaching the gift in each person and encouraging each person in sharing that gift," said Olson, who was also present when she died.
"She had a big beautiful smile," said son Jaxom Engblom, 32. "She was a loving, accepting woman. She was beautiful all around."