June 4, 1935 – Dec. 11, 2018
The Rev. William Andrew Bunton Jr. had been a Baptist minister for 55 years.
Beginning in 1960 at True Light Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., he would go on to pastor True Vine Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., Paradise Baptist Church in Wichita, Kan,. and Shiloh Baptist Church in North Little Rock, Ark.
In 1976, he became pastor at Buffalo's Antioch Baptist Church, where he served for 38 years, according to a 2015 proclamation from the Erie County Legislature honoring Bunton's retirement.
Rev. Bunton died Tuesday in Lawrenceville, Ga. He was 83.
Born in Lonoke County, Ark., Rev. Bunton moved with his family as a child to Union Valley, Ark., where they lived until 1947. He began singing in quartets at the age of 10. As a teenager, he began singing with the Southland Singers, a quartet that opened programs for artists such as the Blind Boys of Alabama, Soul Stirrers, Loving Sisters, Davis Sisters, Highway QCs, Joe Mays, C.L. Franklin and the Royal Charioteers.
The Southland Singers quartet traveled to Texas, Louisiana and Minnesota to sing at churches and quartet conventions.
He made several recordings, including "You Can Kill the Dreamer but You Can't Kill the Dream," "Prayer" and "When the Gates Swing Open."
Besides marching locally for civil rights, he took part in the 1963 March on Washington led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rev. Bunton was a member of the National Baptist Congress and Christian Education and served as vice president of the Great Lakes Baptist Association.
Locally, he led his congregation into a new home in the landmark former St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church on Fillmore Avenue. There he established a food pantry, implemented bus and van service for church members and organized various ministries, including Substance Abuse Anonymous, Family Forum Workshops and Vacation Bible School. He became pastor emeritus in 2015.
The City of Buffalo designated a street in his name in recognition of his service. He also received a citation at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Kleinhans Music Hall in 2013.
Surviving are his wife, Wanda Lee; two daughters, pastor Ruby L. Yates and Brenda Rucker; four sons, David W. and pastors William C., Ikis T. and Michael A.; 27 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.
Rev. Bunton will lie in state in Antioch Baptist Church, 1327 Fillmore Ave., from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, followed by funeral services.