PREACHER, TEACHER, BARBER, POET, BOXER...
by Sara Crow
PREACHER, TEACHER, BARBER, POET, BOXER...
There aren’t many people who can say, “I’ve been a preacher, a teacher, a barber, a boxer, a musician, a rancher, a poet, a carpenter, and a philosopher.”
Robert E. Black of Markham, fondly called “The Reverend Mr. Black” by many of his former students, has been all of these, usually several at one time. More remarkably, he does or has done all of these things well.
In Mr. Black’s 36 years of teaching in the Tidehaven School System, he has touched many people and all regard him as a person who always went much further than the assignment of a teacher. He fondly called to his classes “Now Students” when wanting their attention. His resonant, soft spoken, yet magnifying voice is the voice of a scholar and a poet.
It all began on November 10, 1901, at Brundidge, Alabama in Pike County, with the birth of a very special child to the Reverend John Black and Harriet Green Black, who had five other sons and two daughters. He attended a county school for eight years near the Pea River which separates Barbour and Pike counties. It was there he started his quest for knowledge which continues to this day.
His first job was with the Goodrich Tire and Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio, at the age of 16, a job short lived due to the flu epidemic of 1918. After returning home to help his parents, his restless nature took him next to Toledo, Ohio to reside with a brother and work for the Overland Automobile Company, which was known for the Willis Knight Car.
After the World War I ended he drove for his father, a circuit preacher, and chanced to meet the lovely Lois E. Hataway at Orion Baptist Church. This brief encounter would later hold fond memories; four years later, on September 24, 1924, they became man and wife.
While serving in the Navy in 1920, Mr. Black states that he made a grand total of $42 monthly while training in Chicago, and later in Charleston received an increase of $12. A few boxing championships also came his way in the Navy. Since the government wanted to reduce the Navy at that time, Mr. Black cooperated by returning to Brundidge, farmed, and drove the preaching circuit with his father.
His next venture was Barber College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he graduated in 1921, and followed this trade in Banks, Eufaula and Dofin, Alabama. At the latter he was invited to play the guitar with a jazz band, but declined.
Always there was a thirst for more education, and he traveled to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University, supporting himself by barbering at the Hermitage Hotel.
A great experience while there was hearing Gypsy Smith, the great evangelist from London, England.
His correspondence with Lois Hataway began to take a serious turn, and Mr. Black bought a new Ford and stated doing some serious courting, 35 miles every weekend. They were soon united in marriage by his father.
Robert and Lois spent a honeymoon year at Bessimer where they were members of the First Baptist Church and he surrendered himself to the ministry. “There were wonderful people in Bessimer”, he recalls.
Then they both attended San Marcos Academy. Lois graduated in 1926, the same year their precious little daughter arrived. Robert graduated as valedictorian in 1927.
At Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, he laid his foundation in English, Latin, and Bible, and continued his education through Baylor University in Waco in English Education, Greek, and Latin. He had made the dean’s list all semesters.
In 1930 the family arrived in Markham and our “Reverend Mr. Black” began his teaching career. It was during the middle of the depression but times were good in Markham, Black recalls. He organized the English department in grades 7 through 11 to meet requirements of the State Department. He remembers that two of his former students from his first graduating class of 1930-31 were Lois Harper and Alfred Kopecky.
As a teacher in Matagorda County, Mr. Black has endeared himself to hundreds of students, teaching 16 years in Markham, 4 at Blessing and 16 years at Tidehaven High School.
Since settling down in Markham, Mr. Black has become known, not for any one skill, but for all those skills he has developed during his lifetime--teaching at Tidehaven schools, preaching at First Baptist Church and carpentering at home.
The Blacks have also raised three sons and a daughter in Markham. Bill now resides in Houston. Charlie in Van Vleck and Bob in Markham. The Black’s daughter “our sweet Wilda,” died at age 11.
Their five grandchildren are Jeffery Wayne, Craig, Emory, Marie Elizabeth, and Rodney Emerson.
Mr. Black is a man who has shown people how to live, a God fearing
man, full of compassion and enthusiasm for life. He has gone the
gamut in life’s happiness and sorrows, yet there is a twinkle in his
eye, laughter in his voice, and a very deep serenity in his soul.
Rev. Robert E. Black, Sr., 95, of Bay City, died June 17, 1997 at Matagorda General Hospital.
He was born in Pike Co., Alabama Nov. 10, 1901 to the late Eliza Green and Rev. Jehu Black. He moved to San Marcos and attended School. After serving four years in the U. S. Navy he went to Baylor University and earned his Bachelors of Education Degree. Rev. Black moved to Markham in 1930, and taught school for 36 years for the Tidehaven Independent School District. During this time he earned a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Houston.
Rev. Black also was a licensed barber for 50 years, and was the owner/operator of Black's Barber Shop in Markham.
Rev. Black served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in communities of Markham, Ashby and Wadsworth.
Survivors include three sons and two daughters-in-law, Robert E. Black, Jr. of Markham, Charles E. and Vivian Black of Van Vleck, William E. and Claire Black of Houston; sister Lois Black of Mobile, Alabama; five grandchildren Jeffrey Black of San Antonio, Craig Black of Van Vleck, Emory Black of Houston, Marie Black of Houston and Rodney Black and wife Nadja of Houston.
Rev. Black was preceded in death by his wife Lois E. Black in 1976, a daughter Wilda Elizabeth Black in 1937, sister Julia Lott and five brothers Jim, Jesse, William, Spurgeon and Pink Black.
Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Friday, June 20, 1997, at the First Baptist Church in Bay City, with the Reverends Mike Zimmerman, Joe Ramsey and W. D. Baker officiating. Interment will be at Cedarvale Cemetery in Bay City.
Pallbearers are Roy Sanders, Ray Sparks, T. J. Middleton, Pat Patterson, Craig Black, Jeffrey Black, Emory Black and Rodney Black.
Honorary Pallbearers are Frank Craft, Earl Adams, Rev. Howard Harper, Homer Vos, William Johnson, Delvin Taska, Brent Kirby, Earl Johnson, Lawrence Polensky, Raymond Johnson, J. T. Frick, Henry Seifert, Rev. Robbins Odom, Dr. Fred Matthes, Andy Anderson, Charles Ryan and Paul Ryan.
The family will receive friends at Taylor Brothers from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
Arrangements with Taylor Brothers Funeral Home, Bay City.
The Daily Tribune, June 19, 1997
Copyright 2008 -
Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
Mar. 1, 2008
Mar. 1, 2008