The Rev. Jack Sosby was never one to neglect a person in need — even someone he had never met.
When George Wood told Sosby that the father of his daughter-in-law was ill, the minister traveled nearly two hours to visit with the man in the hospital.
“If he saw any need or a person hurting emotionally, spiritually, whatever, he was one of the first ones there to share encouraging words, to lend a helping hand,” said Wood, who has been close friends with Sosby for 12 years.
Sosby, 82, of Cornelia, died Thursday at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta following a brain aneurism, family members said.
Sosby was born on Sept. 1, 1928, in Franklin County. A member of the Level Grove Baptist Church in Cornelia, Sosby served as a Baptist minister for more than 50 years at seven churches, including Harmony Hall Baptist Church in Gainesville and most recently Pine View Baptist Church in Augusta. In his retirement, he worked as interim associate pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Toccoa.
But he didn’t feel a pull to religious ministry until he was in his early 30s while working as an electrician, said his daughter, Jackie Sosby.
“He felt called by God to do that and God wouldn’t leave him alone until he did,” she said. “He believed in spreading the message of Jesus.”
He entered a religious studies program at The Baptist College of Florida, eventually growing to be a trusted spiritual leader to many of his parishioners and a mentor to younger clergy members, his daughter said.
“One of his friends that he was in school with told me one time that my father was the closest to Jesus Christ of any man he ever met,” Jackie said.
At Ebenezer Baptist Church, he had a particularly strong connection to the older congregation members, visiting hospitals and nursing homes, and at many people’s request, presiding over funerals, Wood said.
Sosby’s sense of humor never ceased, Jackie said. Even as he was being transferred to Emory University Hospital, he slipped in a joke to the ambulance medics.
“Do you know how a hospital gown and insurance are alike?” Jackie, with a laugh, remembers her father saying. “Neither one of them cover as much as you think they do.”
Jackie said Sosby’s ministry was central to his life, but he also enjoyed woodworking and was deeply proud of grandsons, Jonathan Dan Sosby of Gainesville and William Blake Sosby of Dahlonega.
He is preceded in death by his son, Roger Dale Sosby. He is also survived by his wife, Evelyn Whitworth Sosby of Cornelia; two sisters, Ruth Culpepper and Joyce English, both of Toccoa; and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. today at Tom’s Creek Baptist Church in Martin. Burial will follow at Tom’s Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.