W.W. “Bill” Finlator, the outspoken former pastor of Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, has died at age 93.
Finlator, a fiery preacher, controversial pastor and longtime liberal political activist, died of pneumonia Monday night, said his son, Wallace Finlator Jr., a Raleigh lawyer, on Tuesday.
Finlator, a Louisburg native who grew up in Raleigh, led Pullen for 26 years, from 1956 to 1982. He championed civil rights and opposed the Vietnam War.
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In retirement he continued writing and speaking out against war, poverty and the death penalty, and in favor of civil liberties, women’s rights and workers’ interests.
“He thought the German theologian Karl Barth was right that a preacher should preach with a Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other,” his son said Tuesday.
Finlator last year was among the original inductees into Raleigh’s Hall of Fame. Before taking Pullen’s pulpit, he led congregations in Pittsboro, Weldon, and Elizabeth City.
Finlator is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mary Elizabeth “Lib” Finlator, his son; two daughters, Elizabeth McCutchen of Farmville, Va., and Martha Finlator of Alexandria, Va.; and eight grandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Pullen, at 1801 Hillsborough Street, with a reception to follow in the church’s Finlator Fellowship Hall.