Noted East Point-based, Atlanta-born Pastor, Succumbs
James Adam “Jimmy” Wilborn Jr.
February 29, 1948 – May 11, 2020
Good-natured likeable minister and pastor James Adam “Jimmy” Wilborn, Jr. would often be good-naturedly teased about his birth date of February 29, 1948 with having been “leap year day.” Technically, with his birthdate falling every four years, his friends would jokingly celebrate that he was “actually only 19 years old.”
Sadly, this “leap year” turned out to be his last. Two months and 11 days later, Jimmy passed, joining his brother Dewitt and parents Dr. James Adam, Sr. and Orian (Babcock) in eternal rest.
His surviving sibling, Reverend Reginald H. Wilborn, pastor of the Union Institutional Baptist Church of southwest Atlanta, informed The Atlanta Inquirer of his older brother’s demise. “Jimmy passed on Monday night around 10,” he told the newspaper through a Facebook message. “He said he was tired and wanted no more medical support.”
That Jimmy and Reggie became ministers was hardly happen-stance. The brothers-threesome grew up around spiritual influences. Both their grandfathers were former pastors. His father’s father, Rev Frank Wilborn, preached and pastored in Washington Georgia, a Wilborn stronghold. Their mothers’ father. David T. Babcock, was the longtime pastor of Atlanta’s Big Bethel AME Church on historic Auburn Avenue. So, it was hardly strange that friends and family gathered in late 1971 after “Jimmy” had announced his intention to enter the ministry listened as the C. L. Harper High School and Morehouse College graduate performed his trial sermon. He devoted a great deal of his words to his middle brother Dewitt who had just recently been deployed to Vietnam as a U. S. Army dogface.
Not long after his middle brother returned, older brother Jimmy so took off for the Armed Forces himself to become an Air Force chaplain through a program sponsored then by the Southern Baptist Convention. His 20-year tenure included duty in Dover, Delaware and an oversea stint in the Republic of Turkey.
Upon retirement from the U. S. Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, he returned to Atlanta in the 1990s, helped share the pulpit with his father and brother Reginald but soon left to create the Victory Baptist Church of southwest Atlanta on Dotson Drive.
Not surprisingly, news of Jimmy’s death generated dozens of emails. “I’ll never be able to take their place, my brother,” said Atlanta pastor Richard Lankford. “But I’ll always be here for you, no matter what the day may bring. I truly and sincerely love you, Reggie! And Jackie sends you her deepest love also!!” “He’s Gone too soon,” wrote a cousin, Ivan Wilborn. “(He was) our generation’s spiritual leader and has gone on to meet the Lord. He was my close cousin and brother and spiritual advisor in my time of need and comfort. I loved him and I will miss him dearly. RIP Rev. Jimmy Wilborn. My heart is heavy.”
At Inquirer publishing time, funeral arrangements were incomplete. Professional services are being entrusted to Murray Brothers Funeral Home (Cascade Chapel) of Atlanta.
Hal Lamar, a retired print/broadcast journalist, was a close and personal friend of the pastor, preacher and pal called “Jimmy” as we grew up together in the Union Baptist Church of Atlanta.
Reverend Jimmy Wilborn and the Wilborn family remain dearly loved by The Atlanta Inquirer newspaper family.
Last updated on May 15, 2020