‘Giant among men,’ the Rev. James Beverly dies at 90

Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ — The Rev. James Beverly, a towering figure among local Black clergy, has died.

Beverly, 90, most recently pastored Rose Hill No. 2 Baptist Church in Fayette, stepping down within the last several months.

The Rev. Clifton Marvel, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Natchez, said Beverly possessed all of the characteristics of a “true preacher.”

Email newsletter signup

“I’ve known the Rev. Beverly for 60 years. He has always had a welcoming and friendly attitude, which are the characteristics of a true preacher, pastor, and man of God Almighty,” Marvel said. “He was a giant among men. He displayed humility and unselfishness with all people. Proverbs 18:24 summarizes him. It says in order to have friends, you must first show yourself friendly.”

Marquez Christmas, a member of Smithland Baptist Church on U.S. 61 north of Natchez, has been in awe of the Rev. Beverly’s ability to preach the gospel and guide his flock, he said.

“He was very influential throughout our community,” Christmas said. “All of his members loved him. He was very knowledgeable when it came to the Word.”

Beverly was also an outstanding singer, he said.

“He had a unique way of getting his messages across to his flocks. The way he could break down the Bible for you. He would tell it like it is. He stood boldly. He was just a great minister. He will truly be missed in our community,” Christmas said.

Before pastoring at Rose Hill No. 2, the Rev. Beverly was pastor at St. Paul Baptist Church in Washington.

Christmas and Marvel said Beverly pastored several churches and was well known among churchgoers in Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin counties and Concordia and Tensas parishes of Louisiana.

“He was a pastor at New Zion on Homochitto Street in Natchez and also pastored in Waterproof, Louisiana, for a number of years. He also pastored in Los Angeles for quite a while,” Marvel said.

Beverly was born on Feb. 7, 1934, in Natchez, the son of Annie Jones Conner and James Edward Beverly.

In the late 1960s, the Rev. Beverly was a member of the Natchez Chapter of the NAACP and participated in the Civil Rights movement.

He is preceded in death by wives, Carlotta Bacon Beverly, Onia Bottley Beverly and Deloris Robinson Beverly; son, Joseph Ray Beverly; daughter, Cassandra Louise Chatman; and grandchildren, Braxton Robinson and Roslyn Robinson.

He is survived by his sons, James Beverly III, Ronnie Conner (Jane), and Barrette Robinson; daughters, Yolander Davis, Brenda Beverly, Patricia Beverly, Katrina Jones, Angela Thomas, Cursandra Robinson, and Rotundria Robinson; brothers, George Conner, Jr. (Maxine), Larry Conner (Wanda), and Roosevelt Conner; sisters, Leola Collins (Everett), and Rosalie Handy (Willie);  and a host of grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.

Funeral services are Saturday at 2 p.m. at Beulah Baptist Church, 710 B St., Natchez. Burial will follow at Sunset View Memorial Park Cemetery, 1617 Martin Luther King Jr. Road, Natchez.

West Gate Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.