Homegoing of a Saint: Rev. William Shackleford, Martinsville, Virginia

The Rev. William Shackleford dies at 66
Was pastor of St. Paul High Street for 27 years, active in area
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The Rev. William and Rebecca Shackleford are pictured in February 2013 at a reception honoring their service in the local area before moving to Hampton, where their children live.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

By HOLLY KOZELSKY – Bulletin Staff Writer

The Rev. William Shackleford, former pastor of St. Paul High Street Baptist Church in Martinsville and former Martinsville School Board member, died Wednesday.


Shackleford was the pastor of St. Paul High Street Baptist Church for 27 years before he and his wife, Rebecca, moved to Hampton in February 2013. Their two children and two grandchildren live there. 

William Shackleford, 66, had lung cancer for two years, his wife said. That was the reason he retired from St. Paul High Street, she added. 

He died at home, where he had been under hospice care for a week and a half, she said. 

Shackleford was active in this area. He was the Martinsville School Board’s first black chairman. He was a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge Board and was chairman of its Planning and Programs subcommittee. He was an Advisory Council member of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministries and a past president and current chairman of the board of the Baptist Sunday School and B.T.U. (Baptist Training Union) Congress of Virginia, where he was the president and chairman of the board. He also was past president of the Virginia One Church One Child Minority Adoption Program. 

Rebecca Shackleford said she and her husband had been living with their son while waiting for their house in Martinsville to sell. Her husband had been writing a third book. 

“He hadn’t finished it,” she said. “He had jotted down an outline.” The inspirational book was about “life preparation,” she said, adding that her children may finish the book. 

His first two books are “The Sin That Will Keep Many People Out of Heaven” and “Replacing the Fallen Angels.” 

The Rev. Thurman Echols of Moral Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Axton said Shackleford was “a dear friend and colleague of mine.” Their children grew up together, and the two men “worked in the community together. Our churches fellowshipped together,” he added. 

Shackleford also “was involved with a number of organizations that made an impact on persons who did not even go to church,” such as the school board and Grace Network, Echols said. 

“He made a great impact on the community with his involvement with the children,” Echols said, referring to Shackleford’s work with summer enrichment programs. 

Both men served together on a number of boards. Shackleford was secretary of the Virginia Baptist State Convention, of which Echols is the president. The two attended national Baptist conventions together as well, Echols said. Shackleford also was part of the National Baptist Convention with Foreign Missions, the National Baptists and the Hampton Ministers Conference. Each has been a moderator of the Smith River Missionary Baptist Association. 

Echols said he last saw Shackleford last month at a convention in Williamsburg. 

Zeb Talley, the principal of Patrick Henry Elementary School, said Shackleford was “very much an advocate” for children. 

As a member of the school board, Shackleford “was very concerned about the quality of the teachers selected,” Talley said. 

“He did a lot of things out of (the church) for kids,” Talley added. He welcomed students who were in trouble at school to spend time at the church doing school work. “You don’t get that often. … His church had open arms to a lot of those kids, and for me that’s the ultimate: Giving to some kids who can’t necessarily give back right now.” 

Rebecca Shackleford was “really a good partner. She worked right alongside of him,” Talley added. 

Talley and Shackleford often served together on planning committees for Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations, which were held regularly at St. Paul High Street, Talley added. 

Deacon Harold Campbell said he had known Shackleford since he (Campbell) joined the church in 1989. He was shocked to hear of the former pastor’s death because “he’s always been a rock. Everybody else gets sick, but Rev. Shackleford was always the healthy one.” 

Campbell said he met Shackleford shortly after Campbell lost a son. “He really saved me. I was having a hard time” dealing with the loss, he said. 

There was no limit to the lengths Shackleford would go to for a church member, Campbell said. “If he had a member who was sick, it didn’t matter where they were, he would go visit him.” He went on a few trips with Shackleford to cities as distant as Columbus, Ohio, and Philadelphia to visit former members who had moved away and gotten sick. 

“You could call him any time, day or night, and he was right there on the spot,” Campbell added. 

Shackleford also was an excellent teacher, he said. “He could teach a class, and when you left that class you had a full understanding of everything he was talking about,” Campbell said.

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by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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