THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF
Reverend Dr. Eddie B. Gassaway (E.B.) and Reverend Dr. Johnny B. Gassaway (J.B.) were identical twin brothers born on February 3, 1944.
In 1963, the twins graduated from James Madison High School, home of the ‘Mighty Trojans.’ They went on to graduate from Bishop College in 1971 and continued their education at SMU in ‘72’. They became great leaders in the community.
BIBLICAL STUDIES The twins became actively involved in church at a young age. The two joined Salem Institutional Baptist Church.
In 1965, E.B. accepted his call to ministry and became their associate pastor until 1986. He studied at the D. Edwin Johnson Theological Bible Institute in 1963, Draughon Business College in 1967, Control Data Institute in 1979, Criswell College in 1999. He served as Associate Pastor for Antioch Baptist Church. He was a member of the “Dallas Baptist Association”, “New Life Progressive District Association”, “Greater Rising Star District Association,” Adjunct Instructor at “Howard Thurman Biblical Institute” at Friendship-West Baptist Church, and Co-Founder and Adjunct Professor of the “School of Scripture Bible College.”
J.B. accepted his call to ministry in 2003. He served as the Assistant Pastor for “Koinonia Missionary Baptist Church” from 2006-2008 and Assistant Pastor at “Greater Community Baptist Church” 2008-2013. He was a member of the Minister’s Baptist Conference and “Greater Rising Star District Association,” Concord Missionary Baptist Church Pastoral Care and also the Co-Founder and Adjunct Professor of the “School of Scripture Bible College.”
E.B. and J.B. were both founders of the “Twin Bible Baptist Church” in 1987. In 2001, the twins received their Master’s in Biblical Studies at the School of Scripture Bible College as well as their Ph. D in Biblical Studies in 2002.
HISTORICAL MOMENTS In the 1970’s, when J.B. Gassaway was the Assistant Athletic Director for the City of Dallas, the athletic facilities were only for selective use. J.B. served as the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Athletic Director from 1978-1982, District Manager from 1982-1996 and Assistant General Manager of the Fair Park from 1996-2004. He retired after 32 years of service from the City of Dallas in 2004. He was honored the top Executive of the Fair Park 100 Year History in 2005.
J.B. was the First Black State Commissioner in Texas Amateur Athletic Association from 1974-1984; First Black Municipal Athletic Director 1978-1982; First Black NBA Youth Coordinator for the Dallas Maverick’s in 1980-1988; Coordinated the first Veteran Day Celebration in the City of Dallas since 1949-1998.
E.B. Gassaway organized his personal softball team called the Vikings along with his twin brother J.B. and he integrated all the athletic facilities for all the citizenry in the City of Dallas. In 1974, E.B. Gassaway served on the Executive Board to make sure the continuity remained. In 1973, E.B. went before the Dallas City Council to revitalize the Nineteenth of June as Cultural Day of Recognition, a proclamation was issued.
“The Vikings were made up of masons. I remember when E.B. was the best and J.B. was the best and we were in the middle. E.B. was straight forward and J.B. was more protective, he would clean up everything.” said Luster L Miles also known as Tex, the former Vikings first baseman and longtime family friend of the twins. “The twins were organized and determined to help people. They were professionals and brought up to be regular. Both of them would come to an agreement and then they would come to us. The twins took the Vikings across Texas establishing leagues. They went to my hometown, Marlin Texas and established a league. They would get with the Park and Recreation in the cities and draw up dimensions for the softball field and next they would go out a recruit teams to be in the league. People would come from all over and crowd the games. They made things happened. They weren’t the type of brothers that would think too big or too little of you. They showed us how to be leaders. We all lost something when they left. They changed my direction in life. They will be missed.” said Luster L Miles.
“I remember the twins and the Vikings real well. We beat the Vikings.” laughed Willis Johnson, former KKDA Program Director and Morning Show Host. “J. B. would come to the radio station weekly and give a ‘Park and Recreation Report.’ He was on the radio show quiteoften. He was the talkative one and E.B. was more reserved.” said Willis Johnson. The Juneteenth Celebration at Kiest Park was real big. It was a lot of teams and we had a lot of fun. It was a collaboration of KKDA, Bill Blair (Founder of Elite Newspaper) and the twins.” said Willis Johnson.
The twins were involved in so many different organizations and believed in helping people. They served on U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s first political campaign team, 30th Congressional District of Texas. They were longtime acquaintances of the Edwin Johnson family since the early 1960’s. “My first political campaign was a historical moment and appreciated. It was ran by a group of volunteers. They were always so willing. They distributed materials, put up signs and took people to the poles.” said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.
MASONRY In 1968 they joined International Free and Accepted Modern Mason Worldwide under the tutelage of their adopted Godfather Dr. Turner S. Hartfield-retired Sovereign Inspector General of the 33rd Degree Council of International Free and Accepted Modern Mason & Order of Eastern Star. They served in many capacities such as District Managers, Texas State Council President for over 20 years, State Sovereign of Masons and Grand Potentates.
“Illustrious E.B. and Illustrious J.B. were 33rd Degree Council and founding members of the International Masons in the state of Texas. They were leaders in the state of Texas. They developed the principles of masonry. They had tremendous success in the City of Texas. They were the ones we depended on and contacted and built the membership in Dallas Texas.
When they first saw me, I was one of the founding leaders of the International Masons. They admired the way I lectured, dressed and carried myself as the Principle Officer in Masonry. E.B. contacted me to get some personal assistance and training. They developed to be the greatest leaders in the International masons. I was the 3rd leader of the 33rd Degree Council of the world.” said Dr. Turner S. Hartfield.
“I was glad to consider them as God sons because of the work they did. I was on the created team to develop them as 33rd Degree Masons. E.B. and J.B. developed to be one of the best trained leaders of the 33rd Degree Council and International Masons of the State of Texas, especially Dallas. Both of them were outstanding leaders. We will never forget the work they did and what they did. I am the only living executive officer of the International Masons of the world. I was exceptionally happy to have them as my God sons. They were both twins, they were both leaders and what one said, the other agreed. They were great leaders and workers and I want the State of Texas to know that. Their wives played a great part in helping them be great masons.” concluded Dr. Turner S. Hartfield.
“They were known as the Gassaway Twins. They dressed sharp every day. They were outstanding and great leaders. Well behaved. I was a grade above them and looked up to them with respect. We were in ROTC together.” said Thomas G. Jones, Dallas County Judge.
“You can demand people to respect you. They command it without asking for it.” said Thomas G. Jones.
In 1964, E.B. married his high school sweetheart, Norma Wilson.
In 1966, J.B. married his lifelong companion, Clemmie Chavers.
They were family men and blessed with amazing children and one of them had a set of identical twin girls, Dona and Rona.
“The life and legacy of Reverend Dr. E.B. and J.B. Gassaway will always be remembered in Dallas Texas and across the world. They were my dad and uncle. They were a part of historical moments that paved away for other African Americans to have a chance, be the change and most importantly live out their dreams. All my life, they were a part of my journey and now I must keep trudging on with their legacy as a reminder to inspire me to be the best. Dallas, introducing The Double Legends.“ said Dona Mitchell, one of the identical twin daughters of Reverend Dr. E.B. Gassaway.
“My father and his brother are the epitome of struggle, perseverance and achievement. I have so many memories with them both, but my father –Rev. E.B. Gassaway left me with an order of instructions I plan to live it.” said Rona Jackson, the other identical twin daughter of Reverend Dr. E.B. Gassaway.
Both twins served in the United State Navy. Buried at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery.
Respectfully yours Dona Mitchell
Dona & Rona will have a talk show and book release coming soon.