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Published: Friday, 9/10/2010

The Rev. William N. Kight, 1943-2010: Pastor befriended teens, community


The Rev. William N. Kight, 67, a Presbyterian pastor who was a father figure to neighborhood teens, church members or not, died Saturday in Toledo Hospital.

He had diabetes and kidney failure. Mr. Kight retired in 2003 from West Unity First Presbyterian Church, his sister, Sandy Tellefsen, said.

He had been youth ministry director at the renowned Riverside Church in New York City and a pastor in Cleveland and Detroit when he was chosen in the early 1990s as pastor of Grace Presbyterian on Oakwood Avenue in Toledo.

He began a basketball program. He listened.

"There's nothing magic about any of this," he told The Blade in 1995. "They come in ostensibly to play basketball, and they do that for 15 minutes and then spend a few hours talking to me."

He took into his home several teenage boys who were abandoned or abused by their families. He patrolled the streets and took truants to school. He was white. Most of those he worked with were African-American. That didn't matter.

"He became a good friend to the community, and they respected him," Shirley Duckins, an elder and a past clerk of Grace Presbyterian, said.

He was at Grace until 1999, when he suffered a stroke after heart surgery and spent much of a year recovering, his sister said.

He was born Sept. 1, 1943, and was a 1961 graduate of Piqua, Ohio, High School. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work from the University of Michigan. He was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1970 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Piqua. He and his wife, Frances, married in 1974. She died in 2003.

Surviving are his daughter, Dawn Marie Kight; sister, Sandy Tellefsen, and three grandsons.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Grace Presbyterian Church. Arrangements are by the Newcomer Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the William N. Kight Memorial Fund at the church.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:


or 419-724-6182.

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