"Yes, she was Momma's little helper, but she needed to be helpful somewhere else," he said. "And, yes, she was the entertainer, one who could do it all, but just after six years, four months and two days, our angel needed to entertain in another place."
Gregory Boykin, pastor of Second Unity Baptist Church, who was active with local and national Baptist organizations, died July 4. He was 55 and lived in North Philadelphia. He had been treated for a heart condition.
His sister, Wanda Boykin, said he had a passion for preaching going back to his boyhood.
"He would preach to me and his cousins," she said. "He would preach to animals. He had the spirit in him early on."
Boykin was a member of the Progressive National Baptist Convention and a supporter of the National Baptist Convention USA Inc. He was elected president of the Christian Fellowship Ministers Conference of Philadelphia & Vicinity after serving as secretary and second and first vice president.
Gregory drew inspiration for his sermons from unusual places, including a hair salon.
A close friend was Mildred Garrett, who ran a beauty shop at 22nd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia. She loyally followed him to his churches to hear his sermons, and he would spend time in her shop.
"I would stop by on a Friday or Saturday and mingle with the ladies while they were getting their hair done," he told the Daily News' Leon Taylor, who wrote her obituary in 1999.
He would come away with sermons entitled "It's Your Thing, Do What You Want To Do," "If You Don't Know Me By Now, You Never Will" and "Hold On To What You Got," Taylor wrote.
Gregory said some of his best sermons were inspired by the girl talk he heard while visiting his friend.
He was born in Philadelphia to Maggie Jane Boykin and Gene Edward Smith. He was raised partly in Clinton, N.C., where he still had family members and would visit them frequently. He graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School and went on to Community College of Philadelphia, where he received an associate degree in business. He transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and received a bachelor's degree in business administration. He then earned a master's in business there.
Gregory earned a Doctor of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville.
He served as assistant pastor of North Penn Baptist Church and New Inspirational Baptist Church before becoming pastor of Second Unity Baptist.
"He was happy-go-lucky," his sister said. "He enjoyed preaching, and being with his friends."
He also enjoyed traveling, mostly to conferences and meetings of the Baptist organizations to which he belonged. But he also traveled for fun, and recently took a grandson to Disney World.
Besides his sister, he is survived by two daughters, Melissa and Stephanie Boykin; a son, Benjamin, and another sister, Juanita Boykin.
Services: 11 a.m. Thursday at New Inspirational Church, 1907 W. Cayuga St. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in the family cemetery in Clinton, N.C.
Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @johnfmorrison.