The Rev. Will Martin Jr., a longtime gospel singer and chaplain who presided at funerals, died Wednesday in Buffalo General Hospital. He was 63.
Born in Northport, Ala., he moved to the Buffalo area with his family in 1955 and was a 1951 graduate of Lackawanna High School.
For more than 25 years, Mr. Martin presided over funerals at Thomas T. Edwards Funeral Home, particularly for those who had not been church members or aligned with any local churches. He also had his own prison ministry.
Mr. Martin sang with a local gospel group, "The Gospel Six," for more than 30 years. The group, started by a group of childhood friends, sang in churches and arenas across the country.
A kidney transplant recipient in 2004, Mr. Martin was an advocate for organ donations, particularly among African-Americans. He conducted his efforts through Buffalo General Hospital.
In 2004, he received an award from the Friends of Christian Women's Council for his outstanding dedication and service to the community and a Community Gospel Award from 1490 Enterprises, a social organization at 1490 Jefferson Ave. founded by Buffalo businessman, politician and civic leader Herbert L. Bellamy Sr.
He is survived by his wife of 31 years, the former Beverly Brimate; four sons, Antonio, Bennie, James and Mercedes; two daughters, Bernadette Brimate and Annetta Williams; four brothers, Billy Taylor, Bennie, Louis and Duke; and six sisters, Willie Mae Thompson, Penny, Sallie, Evie, Tootie and Toni.
A service will be at noon Wednesday in Mount Olive Baptist Church, 701 E. Delavan Ave.