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John David Cato

1933 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
John David Cato Obituary
Dr. John David Cato was born March 6, 1933 in New York, New York to the late Mabel and James Cato. He passed away on Saturday, July 23, 2016, in Waxhaw, North Carolina. He attended Wooster College and earned degrees from Haverford College, New York University, and Union Theological Seminary. John's interests in social justice led him to ministry and teaching. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister and college professor. Early ministry assignments included service in Maryville, Tennessee and a New York drug addiction facility. He was active in the peace movement and the Pan-Africanist activities of the 1970's culminating in attendance at the 6th Pan-African Conference. He began his college teaching career at Colgate Theological Seminary and ended it at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York where he was professor and chairman of the Sociology Department. While at LaGuardia he was instrumental in the development of a peer-reviewed professional journal. After retiring, he served as Chaplain of the Hunter College Student Protestant Association, Director of the Reformed Church in American's African-American Caucus and supply pastor for several churches in the New York/New Jersey area. His love for family and the mountains led him to relocate to Hendersonville, North Carolina where his commitment to service continued unabated. He taught classes on African-American political thought combining historical and theological concepts at the University of North Carolina's College for Seniors in Asheville and a retirement community in Brevard, North Carolina. He served as a trustee for Warren Wilson College and was the founding director of the African American Community Reading Project, an agency organized to promote educational enhancement and civic participation for youth and adults in Hendersonville. He was a frequent guest speaker at area churches and organized workshops which combined study of African-American literary classics and the Christian life. His published writings on film, politics, religion, education, and historical personalities reflected his eclectic interests. He collected books and folk art, toy boats, cars, and other means of transportation, particularly those which were hand-made, and gadgets, especially those with attached flashlights. He loved traveling and visited most regions of the continental United States, Brazil, Peru, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Virgin Islands, Martinique, Grenada, Tanzania, and Sweden. Meeting new people in new situations led him to picking apples in Washington and riding local buses wherever he was so he could "meet the people." He wanted to know an individual's personal story so he always began a conversation with "Where did you say you were from?" While traveling, he lectured in Sweden and Tanzania and preached in Brazil and Peru. His inspiration for his life work was his faith, the example set by his mentor, the late Reverend James Robinson who pastored John's home church, New York City's Church of the Master, and the teachings of noted theologian Howard Thurman who urged us to "keep alive the dream; for as long as man has a dream in his heart, he cannot lose the significance of living," and to "follow the sound of the genuine." In ourselves and others. As long as he lived, John held a dream in his heart and searched for the genuine. Dr. Cato is survived by his loving wife of twenty-five years Dr. Charlotte Morgan Cato, his son, John Sterling of Allentown, PA and daughter Theresa Isoke of Winston-Salem, , his sisters, Paulette Barr of Charlotte, NC, Barbara Pawley of Atlanta, GA, Sandra Brown of New York, NY and Alberta Porterfield (John) of Bronx, NY and brother, Silas of Utica, NY. Predeceased are his brothers Ronald and Robert. He also leaves to cherish his memory a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives and friends. His funeral service will be held on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 11 AM at Calvary Christian Church of Apostolic Faith-3001 Kilborne Dr., Charlotte, NC. His visitation will be from 10-11. Burial will be in Sharon Memorial Park Cemetery. Alexander is serving the family. (www.alexanderfunerals.com/johncato)
Published in The Times-News from July 28 to July 29, 2016
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