By Rev. Dorothy S. Boulware, Special to the AFRO
When family and friends gather July 17 to celebrate the life that blessed them so much, they’ll remember in concert Deacon Filmore W. Hart, the man with a heart that just couldn’t stop loving.
“He had a great love for life and an overwhelming zeal to live it to its fullness,” said his daughter, the Rev. Jocelyn Hart Lovelace, presiding elder of the Boston Hartford District of the AME Church. “He loved to laugh. He was a great jokester and was quite competitive. People just loved being around him.”
Church leader, gifted administrator, great friend and amazing father, he died July 5 at 90 years old after a short illness that ended in peaceful transition with his children around him.
Deacon Hart, spiritual leader, community leader, convention instructor, family leader, faithful servant and friend to all,” said his pastor for many years, now pastor emeritus of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, the Rev. Dr. Charles Coger. “Each of these represents his 64 years at Mt. Ararat.
With a great amen from his successor, the Rev. Myeskia Watson said, “Deacon Hart was a great man of godly character who served faithfully and fruitfully modeling how to enjoy life standing on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ.” And she echoed the sentiment of many, “He will be missed because his seat will be empty.”
Rev. Lovelace hardly knew where to start in talking about her father. Reflecting on the earlier days, she said, “I remember running out the front door to greet him when he came home from work.” And even more day to day memories.
“Every day greeting him, every day seeing him kneel at his bedside in prayer, every day knowing he’d be there for us, when we were kids and even as adults,” she said, adding, “There for us, his children, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren. He wanted to know everything that was going on with us and them.”
She remembered how he safeguarded them when he was involved with his community work.
“He would take us to the Boy Scout Jamboree and place us so we were never out of his sight, and dare us to move. And every moment he made sure we were safe,” Rev. Lovelace said.
Her sister, Sandra Hart Harris, said their father was all about family.
“We were raised in the traditional way. Our time was spent between church, school and family. We were either visiting with his mother in D.C. or our mother’s side of the family in Ohio and Atlanta.”
They remembered Saturdays when their mother, Marion, was working on her masters and Dad was in charge, feeding them things she’d never have allowed.
“On those days we had salami sandwiches we couldn’t ordinarily eat because of nitrites or anything with garlic.”
And many road trips because he loved to drive and would drive almost anywhere.
So many people have shared their memories of Deacon Hart with the family.
“You think you know your parents, but you don’t know it all,” Rev. Lovelace said she discovered when she recently heard a young man acknowledge her father as one of three men who’d had the most impact on his life.
Always there for his family and community. And always there for his church, Mt. Ararat Baptist, where he has served for many years as chair of the deacon board. And where he was reacquainted with Elaine Harris who had previously been a member and returned after a 30 year absence. There they began a courtship and sealed it in marriage when he was a young 87. Together they’ve enjoyed their blended family of seven children, 17 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Services for Deacon Hart begin with viewing, 4-8 p.m., July 16 at Joseph Brown Funeral Home, 2140 N. Fulton Avenue. Viewing will also be available 9 a.m., July 17, with services following at 10 a.m. at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, 3008 Gwynns Falls Parkway, where the Rev. Myeskia Watson is pastor. Rev. Jocelyn Hart Lovelace will be the eulogist.