Legal and Financial Problems Have Friends, Family, and Church Members Worried About Absent Retired Pastor and Civil Rights Legend, Rev. Walter Fauntroy

Walter Fauntroy is honored for his 50 years as leader of the New Bethel Baptist Church during a praise service on Jan. 8, 2009. His wife, Dorothy, stands by his side. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Walter Fauntroy is honored for his 50 years as leader of the New Bethel Baptist Church during a praise service on Jan. 8, 2009. His wife, Dorothy, stands by his side. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Walter E. Fauntroy had been overseas for months when longtime friends gathered on a March evening to discuss the 82-year-old civil rights legend’s worrisome absence and the legal and financial difficulties engulfing him and his wife.

Fauntroy, who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. plan the 1963 March on Washington and became the District’s first congressional delegate in a century, had just missed a huge gathering in Selma, Ala., to mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the brutal confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge that helped spur passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

And where was the retired pastor? His friends have been told that he has been in Dubai, although they don’t know exactly where or what he’s been doing or precisely how long he has been gone. Earlier this month, Fauntroy and his wife of 57 years, Dorothy, filed for bankruptcy protection, and in court documents in that case, a judge quoted Walter Fauntroy as saying that he “is temporarily out of the country and suffered a medical emergency,” without offering any details.

In the offices of the United Black Fund on an avenue in Southeast Washington named for King, an attorney for the Fauntroys, Johnny Barnes, ran through the crises facing the couple, according to two people in attendance.

The urgent problem: The Fauntroy home in Crestwood — where Dorothy Fauntroy, now in her early 80s, still lives and where, friends say, King sat as he and Walter Fauntroy planned the March on Washington — is in danger of foreclosure. According to D.C. Superior Court records, the Fauntroys defaulted on an additional mortgage between 2008 and 2013 and, at one point, owed more than $146,000.

Walter Fauntroy’s legal problems do not end there. He is facing a charge of writing a bad check for $55,000 to an event-planning company that helped put together an ill-fated ball for President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor.

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Source: Washington Post | 

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