Rev. Eddie Wilson

[ Age 75 ] The Ashburton resident became pastor of Leadenhall Baptist Church in South Baltimore in 1970.

November 30, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

The Rev. Eddie Robert Wilson Jr., pastor of Leadenhall Baptist Church for more than 30 years, died of a heart attack Monday at Sinai Hospital. The Ashburton resident was 75.

Born in Boykins, Va., he was a newspaper carrier as a 10-year-old, shined shoes at 11 and was an apprentice barber by the time he was 13. At 17, while still in high school, he operated a four-chair barbershop in his hometown.

Family members said he studied art in high school through correspondence courses and organized the school's cheerleaders. He also played varsity baseball and remained a fan of the sport throughout his life.

He earned undergraduate and master's degrees, and a doctoral degree in theology, from Virginia Seminary and College in Lynchburg, and also studied graduate economics at the University of Virginia.

He served in the Army during the Korean War.

In 1951, Dr. Wilson received a license to preach from Shiloh Baptist Church in his hometown and became pastor of South Baltimore's Leadenhall Baptist Church on March 17, 1970.

"He was a family-oriented pastor and embraced the black community of South Baltimore," said Faye T. Ebron, the church's senior clerk, for whom he officiated at both her baptism and wedding. "He loved to tell stories while he preached. I thought of him as the Bill Cosby of the pulpit."

She said that in his sermons, Dr. Wilson would begin speaking in a soft tone, but by the end of his remarks had elevated his voice loudly.

"He practiced what he preached," said Mrs. Ebron, a Howard County teacher. "His purpose was to bring souls to Christ, and he set a good example."

She recalled that he dressed in a suit - and even when playing baseball at church events, he remained formally dressed, although he would removed his jacket.

Under his leadership, Leadenhall, one of the oldest black churches in the city, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. After Oriole Park at Camden Yards was built near the church, he took youth groups to Oriole baseball games.

"He believed in keeping young people busy," Mrs. Ebron said.

Members of his congregation said Dr. Wilson helped the church maintain a presence in the neighborhood by establishing several outreach programs.

Dr. Wilson was a past president and treasurer of the National Alumni Association of Virginia Seminary, and was interim president of the college in 1980.

He directed the Maryland Baptist School of Religion, an extension campus of his college, for 18 years and taught prospective ministers.

In 1990, he organized the Maryland Theological Seminary and College. He also was director of the Maryland Baptist School of Religion and president of the Maryland Theological School of Religion.

He will lie in honor from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at his church, 1021 Leadenhall St., and funeral services will be held there Monday, beginning with a wake at 10 a.m.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, the former Bertha Elease Goode; his mother, Larina J. Wilson of Baltimore; a brother, the Rev. Douglas Wilson of Baltimore, pastor of Fulton Baptist Church; and a sister, Odell Wilson of Newport News, Va.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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