Obituary for Rev. Dr. William Davis “W.D.” Broadway (July 5, 1930-May 9, 2023)
W.D. was born in the Gonzalez County, Texas, hamlet of Leesville, where he lived with his family as tenant farmers. He started elementary school and attended the Baptist church in Leesville, where his parents were lay leaders. At age 8, he moved with his family to Corpus Christi, Texas, because of difficult economic conditions brought about by the Great Depression. At age 14 he began working for his family’s grocery business, and he and his siblings continued doing occasional farm labor in the agricultural areas on the south side of the city. W.D. went to Kerrville, Texas, to finish his high school education at the Shriner Academy.
A high school graduate at 16 years old, W.D. received the opportunity to enroll in the initial class of students at the University of Corpus Christi, a Baptist college not far from his family’s home. During that 16th year, he also accepted a call to Christian ministry and preached his first sermon. At UCC, he entered a degree program to study for ministry. During his first year of college, he met Hugh Delle Manahan of Houston, Texas. Their acquaintance grew into a loving relationship, and they were married after graduation on August 24, 1951.
W.D. and Hugh Delle moved to Ft. Worth, Texas, to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. W.D. enjoyed his education and spoke throughout his life of the inspiration and wisdom he received from his professors. As a student, he served as pastor at Fairview Baptist Church in Wilson County, Texas, and First Baptist Church of Carlton, Texas. After graduation he served as pastor of churches around Texas: First Baptist Church of Bangs, First Baptist Church of Rockport, First Baptist Church of Lancaster (10 years), First Baptist Church of Portland (8 years), and First Baptist Church of The Woodlands (8 years), where he was founding pastor. W.D. also served as Area Missionary of the Parker-Palo Pinto Baptist Area, mentoring young pastors and supporting dozens of rural and small-town churches. Later in his life he served numerous churches as interim pastor or supply preacher, with two notable long-term interims at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, Conroe, and First Baptist Church, Canyon Lake.
After retiring from pastoring, W.D. became executive director of The Woodlands Interfaith, where he fostered flourishing religious life and community services in a rapidly growing suburban city. He assisted dozens of churches in establishing ministries there, as well as helped guide the creation of childcare centers, a community hospital, a cemetery, job training programs, and many other needed community services. While serving in this role as a key community leader, he received the NAACP Drum Major for Justice Award and was honored with the official title of “Mr. Woodlands.”
For his entire ministerial career and into his retirement, W.D. was deeply involved with assisting churches in raising funds and building facilities to help their ministries grow and flourish. Under his leadership as pastor, churches built seventeen buildings for worship, Christian education, and childcare facilities. As a pastor and later as a consultant, he played a role in over 100 church building programs in Texas, Nevada, Washington, Oklahoma, and Germany. He served for a year on the development staff of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a consultant helped to support many schools, including University of Corpus Christi, San Marcos Baptist Academy, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Baylor University, and Truett Theological Seminary. His fund-raising work has assisted churches and other institutions in raising hundreds of millions of dollars to strengthen their mission. In his final years he made large personal contributions toward student scholarships at Truett Theological Seminary, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and Shaw University Divinity School.
Along with financial support of churches and schools, W.D. served as trustee for numerous schools and colleges. He served on denominational and associational committees and boards in support of the work of Baptist churches. One of his greatest honors came from the University of Corpus Christi. As an alumnus, regional pastor, and trustee, he was the key leader who guided the process of their emerging from difficult financial circumstances to be adopted into the state university system, while also retaining a school for ministry study as an affiliate institution. For this labor of love, he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.
Hugh Delle and W.D. retired to Salado, Texas, a town they had always loved to visit. W.D. continued his fundraising leadership and consulting. He mentored pastors as well as fundraising professionals who greatly appreciated his wisdom, expertise, and endless stories. W.D. had kept gardens for much of his adult life, growing okra, tomatoes, squash, radishes, and peppers in Portland, then roses and other flowers in Salado. He was a lifelong collector, focusing on U.S. coins for many decades, then shifting to matchbook covers in the last decades of his life.
W.D. was always an active community leader. In different towns he participated in the Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club, and the Lions Club to make friends and connections for community betterment. When a local political issue arose for which W.D. believed there were significant moral concerns, he often became the chair of a local action committee to campaign for the cause he was championing. When called upon by local leaders to serve on civic boards, W.D. was a willing supporter of the common good.
Hugh Delle and W.D. loved to travel. They took Mike and Jerene on cross-country vacation trips every year, so that by the time the two of them went to college they had each visited all forty-eight mainland states. They traveled with good friends to many destinations, including Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, England, Germany, the Holy Land, Japan, and China. In retirement, they continued the cross-country travel, taking their grandchildren to many beautiful and historic places during summer vacations.
In 2021, at age 91, W.D. left Texas and moved to Black Mountain, NC, to live with his daughter Jerene and son-in-law Jim. He loved being near his two children in North Carolina. He spent his days reading detective stories and other novels, watching Jeopardy and sports (especially Baylor) on TV, and going to the Mountain Care Senior Day Center in Asheville, where he made many friends and developed a strong support community.
W.D. was preceded in death by his wife Hugh Delle; parents Robert and Lellie Broadway; three brothers Horace, Robert Newton, and Clayton; five sisters Jewell, Netha, Joyce, Ruby, and Mary; and a daughter-in-law Everly Estes Broadway.
He is survived by a sister, Jo Nell Prindle (Frank; Monroe, LA); a daughter, Jerene Broadway (Jim Lowder; Black Mountain, NC); a son Mikael Broadway (Carmen Monico; High Point, NC); five grandchildren, Elizabeth Amanecer (Petersburg, AK), David Broadway (Michael Pascual; Durham, NC), Naomi Broadway (Greensboro, NC), Lydia Broadway (Dave Wiedmeyer; Houston, TX); five great grandchildren, Izabella, Traezja, Ellia, and Future (all of Petersburg, AK), and William (Houston, TX); international student “son,” Nobuhiko “Rocky” Yanagisawa (Yuki; Kyoto, Japan); “adopted daughter” Sophie Ha (Houston, TX).
For those who wish to make donations in memory of W.D., we recommend
Home Is Key Capital Campaign, Homeward Bound of WNC, PO BOX 1166, Asheville, NC 28802, https://homewardboundwnc.org/donate/, or
Broadway Endowed Divinity Scholarship Fund, Shaw University Divinity School, 118 E. South St., Raleigh, NC 27601, https://www.shawu.edu/donate/, (fill in designation blank in online form).