Nehemiah Davis, longtime pastor of Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, a civic and national activist and leader of several local and national organizations, died Wednesday. He was 91.
Mr. Davis was born in Centerville, between Dallas and Houston, in 1925, one of the 14 children of Haywood and Mary Davis. He received his bachelor’s degree at Mary Allen College in Crockett and his two master’s degrees, in divinity and religious education, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He received his honorary doctor of divinity degree from Guadalupe Baptist Theological Seminary in 1992, according to relatives.
Mr. Davis used his education to help him lead Mount Pisgah, a significant church in Fort Worth’s African-American community. It is his work with the church that family and friends say they remember most.
“It wasn’t like pastoring is done today. If he was anywhere in the contiguous United States he made it a point to be back at that pulpit on Sunday morning,” said Carol Davis Jackson, Mr. Davis’ oldest daughter.
Jackson said she was 2 when Mr. Davis became a pastor. In 1963 he brought the family to Fort Worth.
“I remember because when I told my third-grade class I was moving to Fort Worth, they said I was going to ‘where they killed [President John] Kennedy,’ ” Jackson said.
Her father was pastor of churches for 59 years, Jackson said.
Davis loved the church and his family but found time to be active in the community and lead national organizations, said Dorothy N. Cole Davis, his wife of 62 years.
“God gave him a long life and he served God well,” she said. “He worked with people and not against people. He would want to be remembered as a humble servant of Jesus Christ.”
She said that from 1980 through 1982, her husband was a trustee for the Fort Worth school district. Mr. Davis spent 20 years as president of the Fort Worth-Tarrant County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a post he recently relinquished, his widow said. Mr. Davis died while president of the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, she said.
“He’s still in his term, he’s just in heaven right now,” she said.
On Feb. 25, 2014, U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, read into the Congressional Record a speech honoring Mr. Davis on his 50th anniversary as Mount Pisgah’s pastor.
“Pastor Nehemiah Davis was a pillar of the Fort Worth community,” Veasey said Thursday. “For more than 50 years, he faithfully served the Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church community, touching countless lives in North Texas. I extend my sincerest condolences to his wife … his two daughters Carol Michelle Davis Jackson and Nina Caron Davis, and his grandchildren.”
At the time Mr. Davis was president of the National Missionary Baptist Convention, it was one of the largest and most powerful African-American organizations in the United States, said Bob Ray Sanders, former Star-Telegram columnist.
“He had a soft voice that was heard across the land,” Sanders said. “He was heard and people responded to him in a positive, not a negative, way. He didn’t fear much that I could see and if he did, he didn’t let anyone know it.”
Other survivors include a a sister, Mary Perry; and a brother, Ward Davis.
Two services will be held at Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, 1801 Evans Ave. One will be at 7 p.m. March 13 and the other will be at 11 a.m. March 14.