James Howard Fortune: The Steps of a Good Man

fortuneWhat Defines a True Father?

It is a man that is willing to make sacrifices for his family.

It is a man that  make the tough decisions that aren’t easy but that have to be made.

It is a man that is active in the lives of his children.

It is a man that won’t always give his children what they want, but would never hesitate to give them what they need.

Overall, a true father is a father that loves his children unconditionally.

James Howard Fortune was that kind of man and his life story reveals the steps of a good man.

Born on May 1, 1922 in Brenham, Texas, Will and Georgia Fortune did not know at the time that they were raising a real man and a man of God.

In the year of his birth, the Washington D.C. home of Black Civil Rights Abolitionist Frederick Douglas was declared a national shrine, Also, Dr. Rebecca J. Cole the Black community lost the second African American woman physician and first Black woman to graduate from the Woman’s Medical College in Pennsylvania. Cole received her secondary education from the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY — now Cheyney University). She was appointed as a resident physician at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, which was a hospital owned and operated by women physicians, from 1872-1881.

Dr. Cole worked as sanitary visitor, a position in which a traveling physician would visit families in their homes in slum neighborhoods and instruct them in family hygiene, prenatal and infant care.

Growing up, Pastor Fortune attended Pickard High School and attended Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. After moving to Houston, he attended Booker T. Washington High School and graduated with honors in 1941.

During his teenage years, he joined Antioch Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. M. C. Williams. As a faithful member, he was a Sunday School teacher and B.Y.P.U. Leader and member of the Brotherhood and Senior Choir.

It was under the pastoral guidance of Rev. F.N. Williams Sr. that James H. Fortune answered the call into the Christian ministry. It was critical time in history because all over the south and in Texas, Black America was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement that ultimately led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Fortune became the first son to accept the call under Pastor Williams.

After courtship, Rev. Fortune united in Holy Matrimony with the love of his life, Anita Magdalene Williams on June 10, 1941, just six months before the United States would be thrust into World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

At home, African Americans faced segregation, racial violence and deprivation of voting rights and the military had not yet been desegregated, but the United States called Blacks to service.

After being drafted into the United States Armed Forces Navy Division in 1943, Rev. Fortune served his country in World War II on the U.S.S.W.E. Admiral Benton A.P. 120 as a 20 mm Gunner.

For many years after, her served as an officer of Highland Heights Masonic Lodge where he was instrumental in erecting the building presently located on West Montgomery Road. Additionally, he was an advocate in the foundation of M.C. Williams Junior-Senior High School in the Acres Home community.

On August 24, 1960, Rev. Fortune was called to pastor Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church where he served for 47 years.

While serving the church, Fortune also worked as a machinist retiring from Hughes Tool Company after 41 years of service.

Pastor Fortune was a perfectionist and believed in giving God and his best the best and was instrumental in installing Shiloh’s first indoor restroom, choir room and free standing fellowship hall. In 1988, he built a new edifice and was able to burn the mortgage within 15 years.

Pastor Fortune  efforts made Shiloh M.B.C. A beacon of light in the Acres Home community.

On March 16, 2014, Rev. James Howard Fortune was escorted into eternity.

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