Rev. McClearn passes away at the age of 75

NEWBURGH – The Reverend Sylvester McClearn was born in Smithfield, North Carolina on July 15, 1937. He was one of fourteen children born to Mr. and Mrs. Randolph McClearn. In 1957, he met, fell in love and married his beautiful wife, Billie Marie. He and Billie Marie McClearn are the proud parents of six great kids (five sons and one daughter) and they also have ten grandchildren. Reverend McClearn is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary and also studied Psychology at Empire State College of NY.

Sylvester was very deeply committed to the youth and families of Newburgh, NY. He and Billie Marie owned and operated a clothing business, ice cream store and restaurant (House of Fashion, The Go Young Shop, The Ice Cream Hut and Mom’s Kitchen) on Broadway in the City of Newburgh. In 1974, the couple was recognized in Black Enterprise Magazine as up and coming entrepreneurs in the United States. They also formed and sponsored two basketball teams and two softball teams.

Reverend McClearn was regarded as one of the hardest working Pastors in the Faith. Rev. McClearn was a great man, a great husband and a great father. He was an active participant in civil rights movement, community leader and led numerous humane causes in and around Newburgh: The Greater Newburgh Ministerial Association, President; Campaign leader for education; Newburgh Drug Task Force; NAACP; New City Partners of Newburgh; The Black Ministerial Fellowship, Newburgh; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Celebration, Chairman for 5 years; Black and Hispanic Coalition of Newburgh, Chairman; Champion for voter registration; Newburgh Interfaith Emergency Housing for the Homeless (Project Life) Founder and Chairman of the Board for 5 years; Through the Black Commonwealth of Newburgh, he started the Miss Black Newburgh Beauty Pageant and the corresponding annual parade, and he led the effort to have a street in Newburgh renamed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Drive.

Sylvester received numerous awards for his love and dedication to our community: The Newburgh Distinguished Citizens Award, The Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award, The Most Deserving Black Award, The Human Rights Commission Award, Founders Certificate of Appreciation for Project Life, The Most Prestigious Black Award, Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition, The Coalition for People’s Rights Appreciation Award, The City of Newburgh Certificate of Appreciation, African American History Committee Award, Orange County Distinguished Services Award, Black Ministerial Fellowship Presidential Award of Excellence, Newburgh Drug and Alcohol Extraordinary Service Award, and many, many more…

One of Rev, McClearn’s favorite songs was \”May the work I’ve done speak for me\”. The verses follow:

May the work I’ve done speak for me, May the work I’ve done speak for me.

When I’m resting in my grave, There’s nothing more to be said:

May the work I’ve done speak for me.

May the life I live speak for me, May the life I live speak for me.

When I’m resting in my grave, There’s nothing more to be said.

May the life I live speak for me.

As you can see, the tremendous work that Rev. McClearn has done is speaking for him in a mighty way right now. What a wonderful man, what a great human being, what a good and faithful servant of the Lord.

Reverend Sylvester McClearn is survived by his wife of 55 years, Mrs. Billie Marie McClearn; five children: Richard McClearn (Donzella), Michael McClearn (Kate), Darnell McClearn (Kathy) Alex McClearn (Andrea), Jeanie McClearn-Little (Otis); one deceased son, Cathell McClearn; ten grandchildren: Michelle, Tianna, Marcus, Nyimah, Alison, Miles, Kendall, Jordan, Iman and Aisha; two brothers: Roosevelt McClearn and Jesse McClearn (Linda) and two sisters: Alice Spriggs and Gertha Green; six Godchildren: D’otta, Melissa, Antoinette, Patrice, Charlene, Lawrence, Mike and Thomas Earl; along with a long list of nieces and nephews to which he was affectionately known as Uncle Buddy. Let the work I’ve done speak for me.

Reverend McClearn will lie in repose from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, July 10th at First United Methodist Church, 245 Liberty Street, Newburgh, NY. A celebration of Life Services will commence at 11 a.m. at the church. Elder Eugene Jones will officiate. Interment will be at Woodlawn Cemetery, New Windsor, NY.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Project L.I.F.E. family shelter by mail: Project L.I.F.E.. c/o Sylvester McClearn, 172 First St., Newburgh, NY 12550 or

Professional services entrusted to Rhodes Funeral Homes.


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