ROOSEVELT, N.Y.– Charles Ray McIlwain was born in Kannapolis, N.C. on July 16, 1937, to the late Lillie Mae and Haskel McIlwain and joined the Lord’s angels on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010.
As a sixteen year old, Charles was admitted to Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C. on a four-year scholarship, where he met his present wife, Joelyn Antoinette Sinton. In 1957 while at Livingstone College, Charles became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. He obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree and then furthered his education to receive a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Administration from Hofstra University and completed further study at the University of Massachusetts.
Upon graduation of Livingstone College (1959), he served as a teacher of mathematics at Northwest Junior High School in Charlotte. Mr. McIlwain served the Roosevelt, N.Y., Public School District proudly, with high esteem for 39 years. He began teaching mathematics at the Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School in 1960 as the first African American academic teacher. He served as Assistant Principal for six years at the Junior-Senior High School and as Principal at Centennial Avenue Elementary School from 1976-1996.
He was the founder and former Director of the Roosevelt MAX Project for gifted and talented students. The MAX project introduced students to the U.S. Civil War and the major role of the African American soldiers through all interdisciplinary subjects. Students traveled with great esteem to various historical locations including Ghana, West Africa.
Some of Mr. McIlwain’s community service involvement consisted of Chairman of the Roosevelt Citizens Advisory Council, Director of the MAX Project, Vice-Chairman of the Hempstead Boys and Girls Club, Member of the Roosevelt High School Advisory Committee, and the Bethel A.M.E. Church Advisory Board. His professional journey evolved into an insurmountable legacy.
Charles McIlwain had a meticulous wardrobe and loved to look good, smell good and maintain a stellar image. He had the gift and ability to fellowship with the most common of men and exchange intellect with the most elite. He had an affinity for sports cars, luxury cars, antique cars, any and all cars, fine jewelry, art and sculpture.
With all of his worldly possessions, he held steadfast knowing that, “Knowledge is power and that, nothing had more value than an educated mind.”
Charles leaves behind his wife of 49 years, Joelyn Sinton McIlwain; four daughters, Rachel, Alicia, Monica and Deidre; sons-in-law, Richard Lofton, Walter Van Eyken, James Marks; six grand children, James, Jared, Jolai, Kennedi, Zachary and Jalen. A sister, Cora Mae Cunningham (eldest); brother-in-law, Robert Lee Cunningham; sister-in-law, Jacqueline Sinton; and nieces and nephews, Terrance Cunningham, Carlos Cunningham, Derrick Cunningham, Tonya Cunningham (Ray), Sinette Martin and Lorna Martin Deshay; and “four generations within a Roosevelt community, that Charles McIlwain proudly claimed as his own.”
The wake was held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010, at Centennial Avenue Elementary School in the Charles McIlwain Gymnatorium, 140, W. Centennial Avenue, Rossevelt, N.Y. 11575.
The funeral service was at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, at Bethel A.M.E. Church, 420 W. Main Street, Freeport, NY. 11520.
Please, no flowers. All donations can be mailed to Joelyn McIlwain in care of the Charles McIlwain Scholarship Fund, 59 Governor Avenue, North Babylon, NY 11704.