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Obituary of Lee Hanks PDF Print E-mail
Written by Elder J.A. Monsees   

The Advocate & Messenger, May 1947

After arising from his slumbers and eating his breakfast, on the morning of April 16th, 1947, Elder Lee Hanks was suddenly stricken with a cerebral hemorrhage, and before help could be summoned he was dead. A blessed way to go. He had lived nearly eighty-six years, and from his early life, had preached the glorious gospel of Christ. He had preached acceptably to the Primitive Baptist people in about thirty or more of the States of the Union, baptized more than seven hundred of the Saints, assisted in the ordination of many of God's dear ministers, and founded many of our strongest churches of today. He loved devotedly the doctrine of grace, and the order of the House of God, for which he urgently contended. For this reason, he had to endure strong opposition, and sometimes bitter persecution, all of which he bore patiently and kindly. Perhaps the greatest of these persecutions arose from his efforts to make reconciliation among estranged brethren. God blesses the peacemaker, but in this Laodicean age of indifference, apparently the greatest and professed follower of the author of this doctrine find fault and make charges, many times unsustainable, against their brethren. None of these things ever moved him, but he continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine, and gave his life's energy to his last days that he might acquit himself with a good conscience toward God.

Perhaps his last message to the churches of our people was written for the Primitive Baptist papers, in which he speaks of being near his home in glory. No dying message could be sweeter. "Nearing Home". Elder Hanks arranged the appointments for my first visit to Georgia. Later, I moved to the State and lived with him for about three years, more as one of the family, than a boarder. I loved him and the family. Sister Hanks, the mother of his children passed on nine years ago. She had devoted her life in faithfulness to the family, making many sacrifices that he might go in the defense of the doctrine, and to comfort the saints. After her death, he married sister Floyd of Florida, where he had made his home for the last years of his life. We understand this was a very happy marriage, and his last and declining days were made very happy for him. May God bless the widow, the children and others, who are bereaved at his passing. There are five daughters and two sons, all living, and one grandchild. Bessie, Pearl, Ruth and Ruby live at 1800 N. Decatur Rd., near Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, a home he built and left them. It is a large house with arrangements so they can and do rent the rooms to Emory students, furnishing them an income upon which they now live. Miss Bessie has a good position, and Pearl is teacher in the public schools. Both are self-sustaining. Ruth and Ruby are housekeepers, and are sustained from the income of the house.

One son, L. F. Hanks, is married and lives in Macon, Ga., and his other son, Joe, has been away for many years. I'm told he is married and lives somewhere in California. His oldest daughter, Louise, married Dr. Parks, and has the only grandchild. She has been near her father in his last days, working at Pensacola, Fla. Elder Hanks baptized her some years or more ago in the church of which he was a member in his last days. He baptized his first wife, in their youth, and his son, L. F., when just a boy.

It was not possible for me to attend the funeral, which I desired so much to do, but we are informed that it was largely attended, six of our ministers were there, and made excellent talks of his life and labors. Brother Turner Lassiter, who is a member of West Atlanta Church, where Elder Hanks had his membership while he lived in Atlanta, attended the funeral, and said "He was more beautiful in death than in life." Surely it can be said of him, "Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea saith the Spirit, they shall rest from their labors, and their works do follow them." (Rev. 14: 13).

Elder Hanks had a powerful analytical mind, convincing the erring of the truth, and showing every other way to be false. He was tender and forgiving to all repenting ones. He had an experience that humbled him under the mighty hand of God, and of which he most lovingly gave the church the benefit. His book, "Conflicts of a Poor Sinner,'' has been widely read and many have found comfort in it, and led in the right paths thereby. His book, "Church of God," is a brief history of the church of great value. His other voluminous writing, his O1d School Church Hymnal, which we now publish, are some of the many works that follow him.

He wished that he may have the confidence and fellowship of the people of God, and for this reason he did not claim perfection, but surely we can now see if more had followed his loving counsel, we would have more unity with those who are now denominated Primitive Baptists, and we would be more like the church he joined in his youth. We then were one people; had no instruments of music in the churches; Sabbath Schools, Aid Societies, etc., for which there is no scriptural warrant. We were with him in the most painful days of the conflict with the Progressive brethren in Georgia. This was the most trying part of his long and useful career. Painful because he had to give up many with whom he had held sweet counsel, and that he should be so cruelly attacked by them, and charged with insincerity. Yet God sustained him, the Baptists of other states sustained his position, and it was surely by this fight that the Baptists of Georgia were not swallowed up by that movement. It succeeded, however, in making a scar that followed him to his grave. We know Jesus better by the scars, the wounds in His hands, and side than by His many loving services.

He loved his brethren, and trusted them implicitly in all things. His worst mistakes made in life, perhaps, were to take the word of his brethren whom he had so fully trusted, without first making investigation. His influence was most powerfully felt, and everywhere many sought his approval, and many times they were not what they represented themselves to be. When this was proven, he would very quickly correct his error, but could not always remove the influence left by it.

Such opposition will no longer trouble him for he now rests from his labors. He will be long remembered for his sacrifices of love, and strong devotion to God. Though with a frail body, he was a tower of strength in his service to God's dear children. May we continue to cherish these sweet influences, and live so that the end may be like his, looking into the windows of heaven, as we near our home.

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.