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The Rev. Benjamin H. Martin Sr., A.M.E. elder

By CRAIG BASSE

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 2, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rev. Benjamin H. Martin Sr., retired presiding elder of the Tampa District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, has died at 88.

The Rev. Martin, patriarch of a family steeped in the A.M.E. church and active in the denomination from age 12, died Thursday (Nov. 30, 2000) at Bayfront Medical Center.

He came here in 1924 from his native Quitman, Ga., and kept a local residence while serving as the pastor of A.M.E. churches in Daytona Beach, Orlando, Sarasota and Melbourne as well as of congregations in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

For about a decade, he was presiding elder of the Tampa District of the Tampa, Fla. Annual Conference. It includes 14 churches, all in Tampa except Collins Temple in St. Petersburg. He retired in 1997.

A noted orator, the Rev. Martin was "very well versed in Scripture and would include poetry and singing to make his point," said the Rev. Mayjor Mason Walker, pastor of St. James A.M.E. Church in Tampa and a former pastor of Moore's Chapel A.M.E. Church in St. Petersburg. "He was the epitome of a high church man, well versed in the Scriptures and the classics."

The Rev. Martin was a graduate of Wilberforce University in Ohio and received a master's degree and doctorate in divinity from Payne Theological Seminary.

He later taught at Daniel Payne College, Birmingham, Ala.

He was an Army veteran of World War II and a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity and Bethel A.M.E. Church, St. Petersburg.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, the Rev. Willa C.; a son, Benjamin H. Jr., St. Petersburg; a daughter, the Rev. Dr. Victoria W. Martin, Atlanta; a sister, Annie Sue Martin-Brinson, St. Petersburg; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Friends may call from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bethel A.M.E. Church, 912 Third Ave. N, St. Petersburg.

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Allen Temple A.M.E. Church, 2101 Lowe St. N, Tampa, with burial at Chapel Hill Memorial Park, Largo. Creal Funeral Home is in charge.

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