William Clyde, son of the late James Clyde and Pearl Ashby, born October 2, 1930, departed this life Tuesday, September 28, 2021.
Affectionately known as ‘Son’ or ‘Musket’, he spent his formative years in Eutawville, South Carolina and worked from a very young age. Farming and share cropping became a means to assist in supporting the family. For a brief period, he was sent to Waycross, Georgia to spend time with an aunt who also raised him.
Like many of his generation who experienced the vestiges of Jim Crow segregation policies which permeated the deep south along with the late stages of the Great Depression, the allure of better opportunities in northern cities seemed destined for him and so many Black Americans anxious to establish new roots elsewhere. From a historical context, this was part of the massive movement of southern Black souls, albeit not in physical bondage, to ‘free’ themselves in order to gain the fruits of economic opportunity along with an unfettered, productive, healthy and robust existence without the restrictions imposed by Jim Crow.
So with that in mind, he along with his buddies, the late Sammie T. Nelson and the late David Mitchem, headed first to Baltimore to see his brother James to chart their strategies and decide where all would land. From there, Sammie T. headed to Roxbury, Massachusetts, David to Newark, New Jersey and he settled in New York’s Harlem.
He met the love of his life, Rosa Mae Bryant, also from Eutawville. They lawfully wed on August 23, 1956, officiated by the late Reverend C.B. Wilson of the Southern Baptist Church, witnessed by William Laval and the late Pearl Baylor. From this union six children were born.
William would find work at the ABC Body Company on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. There he performed many tasks from pouring concrete, welding and general labor. He also obtained his taxi driver’s license with the help of Paul Wright, and drove a yellow medallion cab on weekends, and switched to fulltime. After deciding to give up driving a cab, he was employed as a laborer/handyman with the Morningside Development Corporation for twenty years. Often working seven days a week, he dedicated every ounce of his being to support and provide for his wife and family. Unquestionably, he possessed many skills and took tremendous pride in completing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.
A manifestation of his unique talents came to the fore in building a glass enclosed bookcase for the collection of World Book Encyclopedia’s and a desk for the children to do their homework. The beauty is that he had no formal training or apprenticeship as a carpenter. The tools of his trade resided with his God given vision and wonderfully skillful hands. Both items are still in use more than fifty years after original construction.
One stalwart lesson he emphasized during family time and became a constant refrain, was the importance of obtaining an education. The takeaway was centered around his understanding the inherent value education would have upon his children to progress in society as thriving Black Americans.
Generally reserved in demeanor, he shared his passion about Joe Lewis, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown, the entertainers Tom Jones, Flip Wilson, Etta James, ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and Jeopardy!’ and all things National League Baseball. He also became a member of King Solomon Lodge #8, and served the organization with distinction.
William Clyde was the epitome of a loving, strong, unyielding, and forthright man of southern extraction. He was crystal clear about faith in God, treating others with respect, dignity, compassion and having friends that can be counted on in time of need without asking why. His selfless manner stretched far and beyond words can aptly describe.
Undeniably, he was the patriarch of the Clyde family. His home was open to many who were embraced lovingly, broke bread and found comfort. The content of his conversations ranged a wide variety of issues. Always inquisitive, he could engage you for hours on end. There was not a topic he shied away from voicing an opinion, especially as he bore witness to changes impacting our society. Whether among family or friends, if you were on the receiving end of his pinch and hearty laugh, that cemented your good standing. He keenly reminded us that as we age, we don’t have to get old. He could also make a mean pan of southern (what else) macaroni and cheese.
He is preceded in death by his loving wife of fifty-five years, Rosa Mae, both members of the Southern Baptist Church, New York City; his brothers James, Jessie and Henry; sisters Renabell, Addie and Mary. He is survived by his sister Helen Wright, West Park, Florida; brother’s-in-law, Rev. Willie B. Bryant, Vance, South Carolina and Deacon William Bryant, Cottondale, Florida and sister-in-law Annie Bryant of Cottondale, Florida.
He leaves his six children, William Jr., Karen, Laura Timmons (Barry), Bryan (Wanda), Tracy and Rosalyn Segar (Herbert), grandchildren Kalimah (Guy), Herbert, Nicole, Bryan, Christopher, Dominique (Edward), Tracy, Robert, Jasmine, Malcolm and Alize; great-grandchildren Kristiana, Kristopher, Kelena and Adiety; along with a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and extended