HACKENSACK, N.J. — City resident Reverend Robert Lee Davis, Sr., the founder of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Hackensack, died Saturday when he was accidentally hit and killed by an NJ Transit Train. He was 72.

According to an NJ Transit representative, Davis was in the vicinity of Passaic Street in Hackensack when the Pascack Valley Line Train No. 2115 struck him at 2:45 p.m. on October 3. The NJ Transit train had been carrying 50 passengers and crew — none of whom were injured — when it departed Hoboken at 2:13 p.m. bound for Spring Valley, New York. First responders performed CPR at the scene; he was pronounced dead at Hackensack University Medical Center shortly after arrival. The accident is currently under investigation by the NJ Transit Police Department.     

Davis founded the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Hackensack in 2004 with his wife, Co-Pastor Carolyn Davis. He served as a former member of Mount Zion Baptist Church, in South Hackensack, when he relocated there from Alabama in the late 1970s. Davis was ordained a deacon and later a licensed preacher by Reverend Dr. Robert L. Curry. In a Facebook post, members of Mount Zion called Davis a “son of our church” and asked congregants to keep his family in their prayers. Carolyn Davis could not be reached immediately as of press time. 

Sign Up for Hackensack Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

One congregant who left a comment on the post called Davis a “Pastor away from home” for her. City Deputy Mayor David Sims recalled fond memories of seeing Davis walking around the city this past summer while Sims was recovering from diabetes and heeded his doctor’s advice to go out and exercise. 

“I’ve known him walking around with his wife before, but on these walks that I would take, I started seeing him more,” said Sims. “I would see him on the corner of Passaic and First [Streets] and he was going in the opposite direction. He would always have on his Yankees hat. I called myself ‘The Walking Deputy Mayor’ and during my travels, I’d see the Reverend walking himself, and I called him ‘The Walking Reverend’ and he laughed, and he said a prayer for me. He knew the Bible from front to back. I’m truly going to miss seeing him in the early morning when I do my morning walks."

Carolyn Davis, who had been married to Robert for 53 years and with whom she has a son and a daughter, said his family plans to carry the torch of his legacy through their ministry.

"His life speaks for himself and the words what people have for him speak for the man he was," said Carolyn by phone Tuesday. "Myself and our children have suffered a great loss, and we will miss him, but we will continue the work of the church we started together."