Rev. H.B. Land Jr.

[ Age 87 ] The Southern Baptist minister served as a military chaplain during World War II and the Korean War.

October 09, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN REPORTER

The Rev. Henry Bruce Land Jr., a retired Southern Baptist minister and military chaplain, died of an infection complicated by Parkinson's disease Oct. 2 at St. Agnes Hospital. The Catonsville resident was 87.

Born in Martinsville, Va., he decided to enter the ministry at 17 and earned degrees at Wake Forest College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. During World War II, he took chaplaincy training at the College of William and Mary and joined the Navy. One of his first assignments was preaching three Sunday services to 3,000 new recruits at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. He was later stationed aboard the USS Curtiss in the China Sea.

After the war, he became pastor of a Selma, N.C., church. During the Korean War, he became an Air Force chaplain and served in Wyoming and Guam. He retired from active duty in 1958 but remained in the reserves until 1980, when he retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Known as H.B. - he told friends his initials stood for "Heaven Bound" - he was a pastor at numerous small-town churches in Virginia and North Carolina, and in later years, he was an interim pastor at many Baltimore-area Baptist churches.

"He was a pastor in the best sense of the word," said his daughter, Dawn Land-Walker of Bakersfield, Calif. "He often said, `You just have to love the people.'"

She said her father believed in making unannounced home visits to his congregation.

"He would just ring the doorbell," Ms. Land-Walker said. "He didn't like people to straighten up the house or clean up for him. There was no pretense about my father. It was very clear where he stood. He was not shy to give his advice. He often gave valuable advice and sometimes advice you did not want to hear."

In 1962, while serving in Danville, Va., he was attempting to move a citizens-band radio antenna from the roof of his home when the rod touched a high-voltage wire. The current knocked him unconscious and burned holes in his thick rubber-soled shoes.

The accident also temporarily knocked out his daughter, who had recently taken a first-aid class. After regaining consciousness, she told her mother to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to him.

In a memoir, Mr. Land reflected, "I received the longest smooching I ever had, but I was not mentally there to enjoy it." The accident sent him to a hospital for a week. It also left him with third-degree burns on his feet and a permanent tremor in his right arm.

Recalling his near-miss experience, he later said that "he thought the Lord had more business for him to do," Ms. Land-Walker recalled.

In 1986, after retiring, he moved to Laurel and joined First Baptist Church, where among other duties he became a teacher of English as a second language at the church's school.

"He loved his students and liked helping them learn English," said Dan Barkdull, a fellow teacher.

Mr. Land walked at least a mile every morning between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. until age 86. He often ended a meal by saying, "What's for dessert?" He also enjoyed technology and gadgets. He took pictures of people - not buildings or landmarks - and when digital cameras came out, he began using them and putting photos on his computer.

"He would have his grandchildren guess the amount of change in his pocket, and if you were right it was yours," said a granddaughter, Cynthia Nickel of Towson.

Services are being planned at Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to his daughter and granddaughter, survivors include his wife of 63 years, the former Evelyn Adams; a son, Bruce Land of Laurel; another daughter, Fay Morillon of Falls Church, Va.; and four other grandchildren.

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