“Howard will be sorely missed. He was a man of integrity and deep compassion,” said Dr. King.
Rev. Creecy, 57, died Thursday, July 28, at his Atlanta home. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
He was elected to lead the SCLC in January, when Bernice King, the daughter of SCLC co-founder Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., declined the position. A third-generation preacher, he also was the senior pastor of Olivet Church in Fayette, Ga.
When he assumed the SCLC post, Rev. Creecy acknowledged that internal divisions had troubled the 54-year-old organization in recent years. His goal was to get past those divisions and move the organization forward with a clearly defined mission.
SCLC spokesman Maynard Eaton told Reuters that Rev. Creecy “saved this organization. It was on the brink of disaster. He became this organization’s lifeline with his charisma and his preacher passion.”
Dr. King was looking forward to working with Rev. Creecy to raise awareness of the devastating impact of abortion on the African-American community.
“Howard and I spoke just a few weeks ago at a women’s conference honoring both our mothers. He stopped me in the hallway and said, ‘Alveda, we should meet soon. I am with you in the fight for life.’ He went on to say that he had attended a pro-life prayer meeting with Dr. Billy Graham, and had also participated in Operation Rescue pro-life rallies.”
Isaac Newton Farris Jr., a nephew of Martin Luther King Jr., has been named interim president, the organization said.
Rev. Creecy is survived by his wife, Yolanda Grier Creecy, and two children. The funeral will be Saturday at Jackson Memorial Baptist Church in Atlanta.