Remembering Rev. Joseph Allison Cannon Wadsworth III

For a time, we shared in the company of a caring, dedicated human being. That is something Halifax can call good news.  We are always lucky to have with us those who love us.  

It is time to celebrate, and remember, Rev. Joe. 

Rev. Joseph Allison Cannon Wadsworth III, 59, of Florence, Alabama, passed away on Wednesday, February 24, 2016, at ECM Hospital.  He is survived by two sisters, Martha W. Haley of Scottsdale, AZ and Mary W. White (Tom) of Florence and a large extended family in North Carolina.

Although born in New York, he grew up in Durham, North Carolina.  He attended Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, VA.  He received a BS in Economic Theory from Hampden Sydney College of Virginia and then attended seminary at Andover-Newton in Newton Center, MA, completing his Masters of Divinity in 1982.  During that time he also served as a student pastor at Plainfield Baptist Church in Plainfield, NH.  He was ordained at that church in May 1983.

Rev. Joe served at Union Congregationalist Church in Maynard, MA, until 1990.  Afterward, he completed the Hospitality Administration Masters Program at Johnson and Wales University in Newport, RI, earning a second Masters Degree in 1992.  Next he was pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Stafford in Stafford, CN until 2005, when he was called to Halifax Congregational Church in Halifax, MA.

  He retired in spring of 2015 and moved to Florence, Alabama, where he attended First Presbyterian Church and taught the Thursday morning Women’s Bible Study.  He was taken suddenly by a heart attack on Feb. 24, 2016.

Rev. Joe centered his ministry on small town churches with a belief that ministry is best shared there.  As he himself wrote, “Whether within a formal service of worship, or sharing a cup of tea in your kitchen, or enjoying a potluck supper, ministry continues.  Uniquely in a small town church I have had the honor of connecting with a person’s heart, mind and soul within the context of one neighbor caring for another.  There is nothing more similar than this to the example in the Gospels of the interaction between Jesus and the disciples.  It has been a privilege in my life to share my faith and God’s love in this way.”

Rev. Joe was a gentle giant.  Although a quiet and private man, he was an inspired preacher and a thoughtful and brilliant teacher.  In his early years he loved to cook and entertain and dreamed of running a bed and breakfast when he retired.  He spent many hours constructing miniature replicas of famous boats and ships and was working on the rigging of the Mayflower at the time of his death.  His other passion was history and, most especially, family history.  He was the genealogist and keeper of the archives for his extended family and kept family members spellbound with stories at family reunions.  While in Halifax, he researched and wrote a play documenting events in Halifax leading up to the American Revolution.  He was a longstanding member of Clan Buchanan Society, New England Genealogical Society, Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity and Freemasons.

One of his deepest loves was for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where he spent his summers growing up.  He loved to fish and had the gift of being able to call fish to his line.  He is most likely standing now on the shores of Heaven casting into the waters and hoping to draw us to a God he loved deeply.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials go to the Mary Newby Toms Scholarship, Duke University Office of University Development, 614 West Main Street, Durham, NC  27707; First Presbyterian Church, 224 East Mobile St., Florence, AL  35630, or to a charity of one’s choice.

Elkins Funeral Home would like to invite you to leave condolences  and share your stories about Rev Joe on line at