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Rev. Harold E. Pringle Sr., founder of Bethany Baptist Church Sept. 3, 1913 -- July 2, 2007

The Rev. Harold E. Pringle Sr., founder of Bethany Baptist Church, died Monday in Mercy Hospital. He was 93.

Born in Beaufort, S.C., Mr. Pringle graduated from Beaufort High School before marrying Sarah Alice Giles in 1932 and moving to Buffalo in 1937 to work as a crane operator at Bethlehem Steel Corp.

That same year, Mr. Pringle began attending Second Baptist Church in Lackawanna, where he served as an usher and deacon, president of the usher board and founder of the Ushers' Union Chorus of Buffalo and the Vicinity.

In 1954, he founded Bethany Baptist Church on Fillmore Avenue, of which he was pastor until he retired from Bethlehem Steel in 1967 and moved back to Beaufort.

Mr. Pringle "was very passionate about his calling" to be a pastor, according to his daughter Elizabeth, of Lackawanna. She said her father "stood for right" by helping the homeless or the hungry.

"People would come by, and he would have a place for them to sleep," she said. "And my mother would feed them."

During his retirement, Mr. Pringle attended Morehouse College's divinity school in Atlanta and also taught religious instruction at the college. He also was pastor of three area churches.

"At that time, in certain areas, people only went to church once a month," his daughter said. "He would pastor, not [three churches] simultaneously, but every Sunday at a different parish."

He was also a 32nd-degree Mason, part of Burton Masonic Lodge No. 9.

Mr. Pringle's wife, Alice, died in 1984. He married Mary Chislom in June 1985. He moved back to the Buffalo area in 2005 to be with family.

Survivors, in addition to his wife, include six sons, Harold, Abraham, William, John, Arthur and Eugene, and three daughters, Bertha Lee, Elizabeth and Maryanne.

Services are planned Saturday in Beaufort.


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