THE REV. James Alexander Waller Sr., 77, of West Chester, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Philadelphia for more than three decades, died at home Nov. 7 of a pulmonary embolism.

Born in Bryn Mawr to William and Mattie Waller, Pastor Waller accepted Christ at an early age and was baptized at Second Baptist Church of Wayne.

After graduating from Radnor High School, he earned a bachelor of science in sociology from Virginia State University. Always eager for more knowledge, he studied at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In 1970, he married Mary Marghuerite Pickett, and the couple had two children.

Nearly inseparable, they served the church, traveled to conventions, delighted in family gatherings and found "in each other the joy marriage was meant to be," their family said.

Starting Nov. 28, 1982, Pastor Waller served the congregation of Providence Baptist Church in Germantown. He retired Dec. 31, 2014.

"His life's work was helping others. Not only for his family, but for anyone that needed him," his family said.

Prior to taking the post at Providence Baptist, he worked at IBM for 17 years, retiring as a middle manager.

He served as a leader of Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention, National Baptist Convention and OIC International.

At one time, he held memberships in the Philadelphia Baptist Association, American Baptist Association, Baptist Ministers Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity, Philadelphia Ex-Offenders Program and Northwest Interfaith Movement.

He served on the board of directors of West Chester Area YMCA. He pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

"Rev. Waller had a wealth of knowledge and didn't hoard it. He gave it freely and willingly to anyone who would partake," his family said.

Known for his sense of humor, Pastor Waller urged others not to take themselves too seriously. He played jokes on his wife often and could tell hilarious stories about things that happened to them.

An imposing figure, he was "the best-looking pastor in Germantown," his family said.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Ebony A. Gilley; a son, James A. II; two grandchildren, a brother, three nieces and two nephews.

A service was held Nov. 12 at the church.

Donations may be made to the Autism Society of America via