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Frank T. Florence, Jr.
Baptist Pastor, Missionary & Author

      Frank Florence, Jr. was born August 17, 1921 in Cynthiana, Harrison County, Kentucky. The family moved north to a farm community known as 'Hopeful' in Campbell County when he was still young. He was one of four brothers and a sister. He, and two brothers, entered the military during WWII and he became a machine-gunner. He was wounded, captured and taken to a German prison camp where he served as camp chaplain. He kept a diary and later wrote a book, entitled Feet of Clay: The True Story of A PW's Search for God, [Exposition Press, 1958] describing his war-time experiences. In January of 1945 he and his fellow prisoners were freed by the Russians and walked 1,500 miles through Poland to Odessa on the Black Sea, finally meeting up with the Americans. He received a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and a citation for his services as a chaplain.

      He married his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth [Betty] Vater in 1943 and they had three children. He graduated from Georgetown College in 1950 and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1955. He was a pastor in Kentucky Baptist churches for more than 40 years and was a Baptist Missionary to Bogota, Columbia in the early 1970s.

      This writer remembers as a young teen at Kentoboo Baptist Church, Florence, Kentucky, Pastor Florence had a special program one Sunday afternoon and told some interesting stories about his war experience, especially as an appointed chaplain by the men with whom he served. He told of a fellow-prisoner who had been killed and they were burying him. The men gathered around a hole, out in the open, that they had dug as a grave. Bro. Florence stood at the head of the grave, ready to read from the Bible, when they heard an airplane diving toward them. All the men ‘froze’ for a few moments as the plane came down closer. Bro. Florence began reading from the Bible; as they readied themselves to be shot down, the pilot of the German aircraft pulled up and flew away. One of many ‘close to death situations’ where the Lord intervened.

      In 1996 he wrote a book about his childhood experiences growing up in Kentucky entitled Hopeful: Back to These Hills. He died July 10, 2004 at the age of 82 and is buried in the Oakland Cemetery, Grants Lick, Kentucky.

      Bro. Florence attended a Sunday morning service while I was pastor at Faith Baptist Church, Covington, KY in the early 1990s. My mother, my sister Carol, and I attended his funeral in Grants Lick, Kentucky.


[The information for this bio is from various sources. Bro. Florence was the pastor at Kentoboo Baptist Church, Florence, Kentucky, when this editor was an early teen. Written and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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