Willie E. Pullen, 65, retired trucking executive

July 29, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Willie Edward Pullen, a retired trucking executive and an official of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on Radecke Avenue, died of heart failure Sunday at Sinai Hospital. He was 65 and lived in Northwest Baltimore.

A self-made businessman who founded his own trucking company, he also helped Mount Pleasant Baptist Church become one of the area's largest congregations. He was co-chairman of its board and was instrumental in overseeing construction of its 3,000-seat sanctuary in Northeast Baltimore.

"He was a spiritual man," said the Rev. Clifford M. Johnson Jr., pastor of Mount Pleasant. "He was a great singer, a fine baritone, who could also sing tenor. He was a tremendously powerful, prayerful person."

Mr. Pullen was born in Warren County, N.C., where he received his elementary and high school education. He moved to Baltimore with his family when he was 17 and began working for the Esskay meat packing company in East Baltimore.

In 1966, he left Esskay and opened an Esso gas station, later Exxon, at Luzerne Avenue and Chase Street in East Baltimore.

In the 1970s, he worked for New England Motor Freight and Preston Trucking Co., where he was vice president for operations.

In 1979, he started Pullen's Trucking and became a transporter for Bethlehem Steel Co.'s Sparrows Point plant. He retired in 1991.

As a young man, he joined Mount Pleasant Baptist Church which was then in the 1800 block of E. Preston St.

He worked closely with the church's clergy while the congregation grew from a few hundred to its present membership of 7,000.

He served as a spiritual leader in the congregation's music department and sang in the men's chorus. He was also spiritual leader of the ushers. In 1974, he was ordained a deacon.

Mr. Pullen used his experience in transportation to bring non-driving members of the congregation to Sunday services by bus. That service expanded to a fleet of charter motor coaches that the church owns.

When the congregation was ready to move to Northeast Baltimore, he also helped manage construction of the buildings.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, 6000 Radecke Ave.

He is survived by his wife, the former Ruth Silver, whom he married in 1954; four daughters, Cynthia Jones, Debora Plunkett, Yolanda Tillett and Lavade Phillips; four brothers, Cornelius Pullen, Curtis Pullen, Samuel Pullen Jr. and John Pullen; three sisters, Sally Mitchell, Wyoline Daniels and Millicent Williamson, all of Baltimore; and seven grandchildren.

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