Nathaniel Lenard Lacy
Nathaniel Lenard Lacy
  • June 23, 1935 - July 13, 2016
  • Huntington, West Virginia

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Nathaniel Lenard Lacy, Jr. 81, of Huntington, died Wednesday, July 13, 2016 in the Emogene Dolin Jones Hospice House of Huntington. He was born June 23, 1935 in Franklin, Louisiana to Nathaniel L. Lacy, Sr., MD and Rebecca Lillie Davis Lacy. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Turner-Lacy; son, Nathaniel Lenard Lacy, III. of Albuquerque, NM; brother, Leslie Alexander Lacy of Hilo, Hawaii and sister, Beatrice Davis of Los Angeles, CA; niece, Amy Davis Bradley and her family of Los Angeles and nephew, Anthony Davis and his family of Las Vegas, NM. He graduated Tufts College, 1957 (BA); Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, B.D., 1960 with honors; University of Texas, 1977 Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Studies, 1975-77. He was an Ordained Elder of the United Methodist Church (retired). From 1960-1970 he served as local pastor to Pacoima UMC in Pasadena, CA and Aliso Village/All Nations UMC in Los Angeles; and Urban Coordinator of the Board of Missions. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a Chaplain in the Eleventh Naval District, California from 1962-1967. In 1970-74 he transferred to the North Texas Conference in Dallas, TX teaching as an Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Perkins School of Theology (SMU); and pursuing a doctorate in Urban Affairs from 1975-1977 at the University of Texas, Arlington. From 1977 to 1980, he worked as Associate Director of Countinuing Education at Scarritt College, Nashville, TN. From 1980-1982, he worked as a local church consultant/Senior Research Director at the Center for Parish Development, in Naperville, Ill. And Nashville, TN serving church groups in the southeastern states interested in revitalization. He transferred into the West Virginia Annual Conference in 1982 to pastor Simpson UMC, Charleston (1982-1990) and Stephenson UMC in Parkersburg (1990-1994). Served as District Superintendent of the Beckley District (1994-1996); and Western District (Huntington) from 1996-2000. He officially retired in 2000 at age 65. He served several Interim and Part-time Pastor Assignments: Cross lanes and West Side (Charleston); Central UMC (Huntington); Fort Gay and Mount Union churches (both in Wayne County), and First Congregational Church in Ceredo. He also served as part-time Chaplain at the Huntington City Mission among the homeless; and part-time Chaplain in the Pastoral Care Department at Cabell Huntington Hospital. Throughout his ministry, Nat was devoted to serving the poor and those living on the margins of society. He felt the call to represent Christ in those places to people who yearned for bread enough to eat and to share. He was an advocate for peace and justice; and worked in every community in which he lived to make a more just and loving place for all people. He organized a day care program at Aliso Village, worked for fair housing and human rights in Pacoima; created a school library in Pacoima; and chaired the Board of Education in Los Angeles; sat on the school improvement council in Parkersburg and helped to start an afterschool program using parent volunteers; formed an affordable housing group in Charleston. Through the Board of Global Ministries, he served as consultant/trainer and regional Field Coordinator of the Community Developers Program of the National Division from 1968 to 1982, training lay and clergy in civic engagement and community redevelopment strategies. From 1985-1987 he was Co-Coordinator of the WV Coalition Against Apartheid, which successfully prompted the state (WV) to divest its holding in South Africa. He often said he was inspired by Martin Luther King’s work; but actually, Nat’s dad was an early NAACP organizer in southern Louisiana. Nat never forgot the family’s move when, at age 9, the family was forced to relocate from Franklin north to Baton Rouge because of threats on the family’s safety. These threats were a direct result of his dad’s advocacy and organizing work to start an NAACP chapter in southern Louisiana. Nat became accustomed to being the first Black or only Black to work among his white counterparts in the church. His assignment to Stephenson, in Parkersburg, was a cross-racial assignment, still a rarity in West Virginia in the early 1990’s. He was the second African American clergy to be appointed to the Cabinet in WV in 1994, serving under Bishop Clifton Ives for six years. Nat was a great music lover. There was no music he did not like. He was an excellent musicologist, with extensive knowledge of European and African American musical traditions, including the spirituals, gospel, jazz, rhythm and blues. He wrote many grants to help communities celebrate the black heritage in music and the arts in California, Tennessee, and West Virginia. He was affectionately nicknamed “the Bird” in college. Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington topped his list of favorites. He loved to sing; and appeared in a local production as King Melchior in Gian Carlo Minotti’s “Ahmal and the Night Visitors” in 2005. Nate was a gentle, passionate and compassionate saint who loved God and his neighbor. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 19 2016 at Klingel-Carpenter Mortuary. Funeral services will be held by the Rev. Terry Deane at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, July20, 2016 at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church. Interment will follow the service in Spring Hill Cemetery.