The Rev. J. Ray Garrett, 69, pastor for many years of the Second Baptist Church in Washington and its successor, the present University Baptist Church in Hyattsville, died Wednesday at the Baptist Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., after suffering an aneurysm.
Mr. Garrett became pastor of the Second Baptist Church in 1940. Under his leadership, the church moved in 1957 from 11th and East Capitol Streets to 3515 Campus Dr. near the University of Maryland, where it expanded its ministry to include work with university students.
In 1970, it merged with the Avondale Baptist Church to become the University Baptist Church. Mr. Garrett remained as pastor until retiring in 1973, when he moved to Fort McCoy, Fla.
A forceful preacher who attracted large congregations to his services, Mr. Garrett's ambition to enter the ministry dated back to his childhood in his native Merkel, Tex.
"Why, all my life I felt I was going to preach. I can't even remember when it wasn't my calling," he once said in an interview.
After graduating from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Tex., Mr. Garrett went on to earn a master's degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.
He served pastrorates in Jacksonville, Inverness and Cocoa, Fla., before accepting the call to Second Baptist Church here.
Mr. Garrett was active in many phases of the Baptist Church. He was president of the District Baptist Convention in 1964-65, and held other convention offices. He also had served on three national boards of the Southern Baptist Convention.
He was recognized as a leader in working with young, establishing special activities for them.
He is survived by his wife, Virginia C., of the home in Fort McCoy; two sons, the Rev. Chan Garrette, of Miami, and Clyde Garrett, of Mauldin, S.C,; a brother, Doyle Garrett, of Waco, Tex., and five grandchildren.