Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | The Rev. Foster Everett Piatt

The Rev. Foster E. Piatt, father of Florida's Wesleyan churches, dies at 90

Foster Piatt wanted to play the ukulele.

But he was 10 years old and just one of a large family in the middle of the Depression. So he made the ukulele from the woodpile of his family's Indiana farm.

He would go on to craft and play a banjo, a mandolin and several kinds of guitars out of maple, spruce and black walnut. He took that enterprising spirit into his life as a Wesleyan minister. After moving to Florida, the Rev. Piatt built 23 churches, starting with founding Brooksville Wesleyan Church in 1957 and serving as its first pastor.

He then founded the Florida District of the Wesleyan Church and served 32 years as its superintendent. The Rev. Piatt also founded Wesleyan Village, a 55-and-older community that now includes more than 300 homes.

The Rev. Piatt, who had been the last surviving founder of a Wesleyan district, died Nov. 1. He was 90. He had lived in Largo and Port Richey, and in recent years divided his time between Knoxville, Tenn., and Crystal Beach.

"If you talked to him, it wouldn't be five minutes before he would be talking about church, because he just lived it," said the Rev. Marlin Mull, the Brooksville Wesleyan Church's pastor from 2006 until a few months ago and a former director of evangelism for the national Wesleyan church.

As an administrator, he kept it simple. "He was the old-fashioned pioneer, the guy who started it all," Mull said. "But all the papers, you could put them in a drawer."

Like other Wesleyans, the Rev. Piatt did not drink or smoke. The church was founded in 1843 as the Wesleyan Methodist Church, out of strong opposition to slavery. It merged with the Pilgrim Holiness Church in 1968 to form the Wesleyan Church, headquartered in Indiana.

The Rev. Piatt was born in Adams County, Ohio. He was good with his hands, and music. "The only reason I never learned to play the piano or organ is because I couldn't make one," he later said. He attended what is now Indiana Wesleyan University, and went on to become an ordained minister. He married Mary Whiteneck 67 years ago.

In the mid 1950s, the Wesleyan church charged him with finding a place to hold church conferences and youth camps. Rev. Piatt selected 30 acres off Jasmine Drive in Brooksville, bought for $2,700. But his vision was larger.

Today there are 44 Wesleyan churches in the Florida district, including locations in Clearwater, Largo and Pinellas Park. "The difficulty of starting a new church is simply unbelievable," said Mull, 80. "Here's a guy that planted 23 churches. That's like winning 10 Super Bowls in a row."

.Biography

The Rev. Foster Everett Piatt

Born: Sept. 24, 1922

Died: Nov. 1, 2012

Survivors: wife, Mary Piatt; daughters, Shirley Chesser and Ruth Eberle; son, Foster Piatt Jr.; nine grandchildren; one great-grandchild.

The Rev. Foster E. Piatt, father of Florida's Wesleyan churches, dies at 90 11/13/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 9:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  2. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  4. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101