FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Fort Worth native Eugene Florence, who attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s “negro extension centers” for eight years during the years of segregation, turned 108 on Leap Day, according to a recent release from the Associated Press.
Attending the seminary in the 1940s, Florence was unable to earn a Master of Divinity at the school because of his race, although he had done the equivalent amount of work as white students.
On Dec. 10, 2004, President Paige Patterson awarded Florence with his overdue degree during the fall commencement service at Travis Avenue Baptist Church. Two years later, Florence returned to the seminary to preach in chapel.
During the service, Florence said the secret to a long life is simple.
“Obedience is what the Lord requires. I have always been obedient, even from the time of my youth. Be obedient and the Lord will add to your days,” Florence said. “The disobedient, the Bible says, will be cut off from the land.”
Florence served as pastor at a Fort Worth Church until about 10 years ago.