A local community and civil rights leader passed away this week, but today, the day of worship, his legacy lives on. Eighty-eight year old Reverend Wardell G. Harvey passed away Tuesday. Harvey was the pastor and founder of Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church in Paducah and the first African American to serve as a Paducah City Commissioner.
Even though he has passed, friends and church members said his legacy of faith will carry on.
Inside his church, prayers fill the walls. For nearly 30 years, Monica Clark has spent her Sundays in these pews. Her inspiration - Reverend Wardell Harvey, the founder of Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church.
"Integrity and love, he had a love for the people, always taught us if we want to do anything in life you have to love people," said Clark.
His close friends said it was Harvey's love for others that led to his well-known accomplishments in this community. President of the Paducah chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, and long-time friend J.W. Cleary said Harvey not only preached about kindness, he lived it.
"Reverend Harvey to us in this community, he was like a Martin Luther King to Paducah. He was a true leader in our community and I could say he was a true civil rights leader, but he also was a true leader, it didn't matter to him whether you were white or black. Justice, he just wanted to see justice for everybody," said Cleary.
Clark said today's prayers are not only for Reverend Harvey and his family, but for each member of his church family who grew up listening to his sermons.
"Reverend Harvey was a strong man, strong personality, he loved people, didn't take any mess, he had a sense of humor, but most of all he had a humble heart," said Clark.
Harvey was the first African American to serve as a Paducah city commissioner. Those who knew him remembered him for his role in integrating African Americans with white Americans. Harvey also received a number of awards for his civil rights activism and was named an inaugural member of the Kentucky civil rights hall of fame in 2000.
Harvey's visitation will be tomorrow from 3 to 7 p.m. at Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church in Paducah. The funeral will start at 7 p.m.
100 Television Lane
Paducah, KY 42003