Clarence B. Wright
Clarence Berkley Wright, born in November 20, 1929 to the late James and Evelyn (Woolridge) Wright in Newark. Being born into the Woolridge family placed him in Mt Olivet Baptist Church over seventy-five (75) years, along with his sister Bertha (Wright) Hunt. Baptized into the family of God at an early age at Mt. Olivet Church on 8th Avenue in Newark.
Raised in Newark, Clarence attended its public school system. Graduating from Barringer High School. Clarence enlisted in The United States Army. Serving as Sargent and playing in the Army band, Clarence was sent to Japan. His brother Carl also served in Japan. The U.S. Army was service of choice for eight of his Uncles all served (Walter, Edgar, Richard, Andrew, Joseph Woolridge, Walter Henry, George, and Robert Wright.)
Once out of the service Clarence sought to pursue his life's dream of becoming a Mortician (Funeral Director). To achieve this goal, he attended American Academy in New York City graduating in 1955 and serving his apprenticeship under The David D. Woody Funeral Home. It's an establishment that still stands today.
As a licensed Funeral Director Clarence opened his business in Newark. Mt Olivet Baptist Church was very instrumental in his early success, for the church supported him and in return he had given them all he had treating everyone as an extended family member. His first Funeral on his New Jersey License was Mother Becky Brown of Mt. Olivet then on Charlton and Montgomery Street, Newark in July 1955.
Marriage and family was next on Clarence's life journey, so on December 5, 1953 he entered into Holy Matrimony with Edith Jane Matthew, a childhood friend. Out of their union four children were born. (Deborah Denise, Barbara Magnolia Stevens (Warren), Clarence Berkley II (Lorraine), and Carl Richard Alexander (Wendy). He is grandfather to seven (Hanan Jones(Johron), Aniq Stevens, Erica, Janay, Braun, Carl II, and Sterling Wright) and great-grandfather to five with the sixth on the way. (Jaden, Zaria, Janaan, Zehirah, and Shawn II)
Growing up in the midst of our nation's segregation and Jim Crow period Clarence got involved with the Civil Rights Movement and marched in the March On Washington in 1963, he served as President of the N.A.A.C.P. in South Jersey for ten years, where under him an all Black school system was shutdown in Whitesboro and bussed to Middle Township School System. Black college students through boycotts gained access to working the Hotels and Motels in Wildwood, New Jersey during the summer periods.
Moving back to Newark, Clarence continued to work in community service striving to improve the life of the working people. He also had membership with Prince Hall Masons, rising to the rank of District Deputy Grand Master and being a member of The Order of Eastern Stars, a past Worthy Patron .
**Throughout Clarence's life he has never forgotten his roots which includes the church being a member of God's family. This is why we are here today to honor a man who never forgot his church and its role in his life. He has learned that no matter what that God (church) is the source of his strength and will always be there for him.