Cover photo for Rev. Dr. William P.   Diggs, Sr.'s Obituary
Rev. Dr. William P.   Diggs, Sr. Profile Photo

Rev. Dr. William P. Diggs, Sr.

d. April 25, 2020

The Governor of South Carolina advises to limit public gatherings to 50 guests or less to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Smith Funeral Home of Florence, LLC carefully considered this recommendation and ask that additional guest please participate via live-streaming if it is authorized by the family.

Florence - Private Funeral service for Reverend Dr. William P. Diggs, Sr.will be conducted 11:30 AM Friday, May 1, 2020 at Trinity Baptist Church. Florence, SC. Interment will follow at Florence National Cemetery, directed by Smith Funeral Home of Florence, LLC.

Rev. Dr. William Phillip Diggs, 93, born in Columbia and reared in Rock Hill,passed on Saturday, April 25. He was the son of the late William Sidney Diggs and Fleda Hall Diggs.

A graduate of Morehouse College, Dr. Diggs earned the Master of Arts in Sociology from Atlanta University, a Master of Divinity from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, and the Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago. Dr. Diggs was the recipient of seven honorary degrees.

Dr. Diggs pastored Trinity Baptist Church in Florence from June, 1962 until his retirement, December 2012. Former pastorates include Galilee Baptist Church, York, SC, Student pastor, Second Baptist Church, Leroy, NY, pastor, Flat Rock Baptist Church, Clover, SC. As pastor of Trinity, he facilitated the purchase of additional property, the establishment of a highly recognized preschool ministry, the establishment of a federally operated credit union (1969) and the purchase of commercial property including barber shops, beauty salons and a restaurant. He focused on Trinity being a tithing church-sharing with institutions of higher learning, a homeless shelter, the first in the area to donate to the local Department of Social Services, supporting the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, and being the impetus for the founding of the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. His church work included having served as the Moderator of the Pee Dee Baptist Association, Dean, Congress of Christian Education, Progressive National Baptist Convention, and Dean of the Southern Region.

A professor of Sociology and Religion at Friendship, Benedict and Morris Colleges for an aggregate of twenty-four years; adjunct professor at Coker College, Frances Marion and Florence-Darlington Technical College, he was often called upon to lecture at other colleges and organizations. Dr. Diggs served on the Board of Trustees at Friendship College, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse School of Religion, and Morris College. He was Board Member Emeritus, Benedict College.

Dr. Diggs dedicated his life and work to the betterment of lives for South Carolinians. Dr. Diggs helped organize the first sit-in demonstrations in South Carolina, February 12, 1960, primarily involving Friendship Junior College students. The college was founded in 1911 by his grandfather, Mansel Phillip Hall. Dr. Diggs was a part of State Wide Homes, the first organization to be issued private bonds authority, focusing on affordable housing ownership, resulting into what is now the S.C. Housing Finance Authority. He led the effort for the hiring of the first black Florence County deputies, helped organize Florence County Head Start and the Florence County Community Action Agency, of which he was a chair. A soldier of the social gospel, he led the effort for the inclusion of brides of color in the Sunday Florence Morning News. His community work included having served as president of the Florence, NAACP, the Habitat for Humanity Board, and the Florence Mayor’s Human Relations Committee. He organized the first UNCF Radiothon in South Carolina. A recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Order of the Palmetto; S. C. Black Hall of Fame, the 2015 S.C. African American Calendar, the Greater Florence Chamber Building Bridges “Humanitarian Award”; awards from UNCF, the Florence Boys & Girls Club and the Pee Dee Area Boy Scouts.

He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister and two brothers.

Dr. Diggs is survived by his wife of 67 years, the former Clotilda Daniels, two adult children, Mary Lynne and William, Jr. (Lennette), one grandson, William Phillip Diggs III (Tripp), one sister, Grace Diggs Branch Hasson, nine nieces and nephews, as well as numerous loving cousins and friends.

A private family service will be held Friday morning at 11:30, followed by burial at the Florence National Cemetery. The service can be viewed via live streaming (www.trinitybaptistflorence) . Those wishing to share are encouraged to send contributions to Trinity Baptist Church, 124 W. Darlington Street, Florence, in memory of Dr. Diggs.

The mortal remains of the Reverend Dr. William Phillip Diggs, Sr. will lie in repose in the Plaza Area of Trinity Baptist Church, 124 West Darlington Street, Florence, SC for viewing on Thursday, April 30, 2020. Trinity Baptist Church Members are asked to visit from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM and Public viewing will be from 12 Noon - 6:00 PM.

Please keep the family of Rev. Dr. W.P. Diggs in your thoughts and prayers.

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