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James Pleitz

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James Pleitz Obituary

November 21, 1928 - May 15, 2011

Dr. James Lee Pleitz, long-time Baptist pastor, leaves behind blessings and inspiration for all who knew and loved him, both those who knew him personally and those who only knew him from afar. He was a man of strong integrity and profound faith.

Dr. Pleitz led his flocks with love, graciousness and charm, yet boldly. The people followed with enthusiasm. He had the unique ability to make everyone feel that they were an important, even vital, part of his life and of God's Kingdom.

Dr Pleitz died on Sunday. His wife of 61 years, Margaret Ann Shupe Pleitz, to whom he was most devoted, died in February 2010. They are survived by a son, Dan (Cathy); a daughter, Nancy (Bill) Hinson and five grandchildren: Jacob, Joshua and Jordan (Krystle) Pleitz; Matt (Stephanie) Hinson and Liz (Paul) Hinson Reoch. Great-grandchildren are Rylee Reoch and Roman Hinson.

In retirement Dr. and Mrs. Pleitz returned to Pensacola from Dallas, Texas in 1994 to be near family and old friends. Dr. Pleitz was, for 17 years, Senior Pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, one of the largest and best known churches in Texas. Prior to his pastorate there he was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pensacola for almost twenty years. He left Pensacola to begin his ministry in Dallas in 1977.

In both cities Dr. Pleitz is remembered well and fondly for his popular television spots, "Thought for the Day." Through that ministry he reached a large number of people with inspiration, encouragement and often, humor. He became not only a much loved pastor to his official congregations but also to a multitude of others whom he never knew personally. Often people he had never met would stop him and share how he had touched their lives.

Dr. Pleitz enjoyed sports and played golf, but "not very well" he would say. He loved football and was always devoted to the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Dallas Cowboys. One of his favorite "extra" ministries was leading pre-game team devotions for the Cowboys at the invitation of Coach Tom Landry.

Dr. Pleitz was called to pastor First Baptist Pensacola in 1959 while still a very young man. Some feared that the "big church on the hill" would be too much of a challenge but soon he proved to be a wise, kind and effective leader. The church thrived during his tenure, continually growing in membership, effectiveness and missions efforts. This success was due, in part, to his quick wit, warm smile and open heart.

Included in a long list of honors and awards during his Pensacola pastorate is the distinction of FBC being chosen Guidepost Magazine's "Church of the Year" in 1970. While he pastored in Pensacola he, with great humility, accepted honorary doctorate degrees from both The University of West Florida and Stetson University in De Land, Florida. Later he was awarded an Honorary D.D. from Dallas Baptist University and an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from his alma mater Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.

Dr. Pleitz grew naturally into leadership positions in the Florida Baptist Convention, Texas Baptist life and the Southern Baptist Convention. He served as president of the Florida Convention and as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference. Numerous other Baptist and civic organizations sought and benefited from his participation and counsel. Though there are far too many to cite all, some of those contributions are: Boards of Trustees of Baylor University, Dallas Baptist University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Chairman of SBC Radio and Television Commission, and was a Founding Director of Associated Baptist Press.

James Lee Pleitz was born in 1928 in Jonesboro Arkansas. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist College in Arkansas and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He was proud of his Arkansas roots and served as pastor of several Arkansas churches prior to moving to Florida.

A Memorial Service will be held at 10:00 AM, Wednesday, May, 18 in the Sanctuary of First Baptist Church at 500 North Palafox Street, with Dr. Barry Howard, Senior Pastor, officiating. All ministers are invited to serve as Honorary Pall Bearers with seating on the South side. The family will receive friends after the service. The service may also be viewed live streaming at

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Royal Outreach Center (ROC) of First Baptist Church, 500 North Palafox Street, Pensacola, FL 32501, or designated for Ouachita University Student Scholarships at the same address.

"Beloved" was Dr. Pleitz's favorite term of endearment as he addressed individuals or groups of people, and all believed him. Those people now offer thanks to God, our Heavenly Father, for the well-lived life of Jim Pleitz, greatly beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, leader, pastor and friend. One of those friends observes, "He had the great equalizing gift of being happily at ease with both prince and pauper." He did indeed.

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Published in Pensacola News Journal from May 17 to May 18, 2011
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