A FORMER York vicar and missionary has died just three days before his 100th birthday - but a day after his family had joined him to celebrate the milestone.

The Reverend Leonard Melling was vicar of Osbaldwick with Murton from 1967 to 1978, but also worked as area secretary for York and Ripon dioceses for the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. (USPG)

His daughter Mary and husband Pete flew to York from their home in Australia to join his other daughter Kate and son Richard, and grandchildren and great grandchildren, for a family celebration.

The gathering was held earlier than his birthday to take advantage of the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

He then died peacefully last Monday (May 27) at Meadowbeck Care home,in Osbaldwick, where he had been very well cared for since the death of his wife Kitty in April 2011,said his daughter Kate, of Riccall, a former York deputy head teacher.

“It was very dignified, serene and peaceful,” she said. She said her father had started out as a vicar at St Mark's, Newby, Scarborough and then became a missionary in Sreia Brunei in the Far East .

He then spent several years as Area Secretary for USPG before becoming Vicar of Osbaldwick Then instead of retirement in 1978, he headed back the Far East for three years where he became Dean of Kuching Cathedral, Sarawak.

He remained active in the church long after he eventually retired, celebrating Holy Communion for the last time at the church in Osbaldwick on his 95th birthday in 2008.

She said his funeral would take place at St Thomas’ Church in Osbaldwick at 11am on Friday June 7, and a Requiem Mass would be held there on Saturday June 8 at 6 pm, with all welcome.

She said that apart from family flowers, the congregation was being asked to make donations that will be sent to Archbishop Bolly in Kuching to support and further the work of the rural churches in that area.