Elbert Pegues

PEGUES, ELBERT THOMAS ("PG") Elbert Thomas Pegues ("PG"), 73, of Hamden, CT departed this earth peacefully on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, at his home surrounded by his family. He was born on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1939, one of two children of the late Elbert S. and Virginia (Brown) Pegues. His father was one of the first African American entrepreneurs in New Haven, the owner of the Imperial Cleaners and Tailoring Shop on Dixwell Avenue. His mother served the Greater New Haven Area and Grace-New Haven Hospital (Yale-New Haven) as a Licensed Practical Nurse. This giant of a man, standing a mere 6'9", was not only a tower of strength but had a large measure of dignity, grace, love and compassion. He was large in stature and spirit! Since his early childhood years, he showed an avid interest in playing sports. Within the Greater New Haven community, he participated in sports activities at the Jewish Community Center, Blessed Martin Catholic Church and the Dixwell Community House. His physicality was primarily illustrated through his love for basketball. He attended Dwight Elementary School and Troup Junior High. During his high school years, he was a Varsity Player for the James H. Hillhouse High School Academics and was a member of the New England Championship team that played in the Boston Garden in Boston, MA. He was known among his peers as a gentleman and a good sportsman. "PG" was the rare student who always showed up for school and received awards for his Perfect Attendance during his school years. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Armed Services, the Marine Corps. As a seventeen-year old, he was among the Marines who landed in Lebanon during that crisis in 1957. Once again, his height distinguished him and led to his being the flag bearer for his platoon. During his service stint, he was the recipient of the Good Conduct First Award and was certified as a Rifleman. He also played basketball for his platoon and excelled in the center position. Elbert's time in the U. S. Marine Corps allowed him to travel and expand his knowledge of the Middle East. Upon his honorable discharge, he decided to attend college. He found his way to West Virginia State College (WVSC) in Institute, WV, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education. While at "State", he was known as "Big Al"! He played for the Yellow Jackets and WVIAC Championship Team and was a member of the team when it represented the Conference in the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, Kansas. He went on to further his education and earned a Master of Science degree in Urban Studies at Southern Connecticut State University. After completing his degree at WVSC, Big Al was employed by the local Community Action Partnership Agency, an Anti-Poverty Program in Charleston, WV. His community involvement focused on eradicating poverty. A firm believer in equal rights he was active in the civil rights movement. He marched in protests for equal housing, education and better employment opportunities. When he decided to return to Connecticut, he was still focused on the community work he had begun in West Virginia and began working for the Community Action Agency in New Haven. In ensuing years, he became the liaison between the neighborhood corporations and subsequently assumed the Director position of the Dwight Neighborhood Corporation. Seeking to continue his mission of helping, he was employed as a Parole Officer for the State of CT; a community organizer for The Black Coalition of Greater New Haven; Director of Home Maintenance and the Hill Development Corporation. Lastly, he became a member of the School Security Team for the New Haven Public Schools System. His first placement was at Troup Middle School and then he joined the staff at James H. Hillhouse High School where he retired in 2002. During his tenure at Hillhouse he was well known for advising, caring and mentoring the students. An avid sportsman, he enjoyed fishing, hunting and watching Major League sports. ESPN Sports Center was a focal point of his television viewing. He was a Mets, Yankee, Laker, Steeler and a Cowboy fan. "PG" also watched tennis matches and the Classic Sports channel and any competitive gaming shown. The Olympics were a special draw! Because of his love for people and youth in particular, Elbert joined Theta Psi Chapter, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. while in college in 1961. His membership started during ho his undergraduate years to his graduate membership in Chi Omicron Chapter, New Haven, CT for over 50 years. Brother "PG" was a member of the IBPOEW, Elk Lodge #141 for 45 years and the Founder and first President of the Veterans' Club and member of the Orange Blossoms Club. He was also the Chairman of the Trustee Board, a member of the House Committee and a Past Grand Exalted Ruler of the Grand Lodge. In later years, he joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Dixwell-Newhallville Senior Center. He enjoyed the line dancing classes and the socialization. "PG" was "Helpful Homer", always on time and assisted all of the seniors with their luggage when traveling. His penchant for helping others extended to hospital visits and chauffeuring friends and elderly to various appointments. Brother Pegues was an active member of Immanuel Missionary Baptist Church where he was one of the Founders of the Saturday Bible Class, participated in Adult Sunday School class, and member of the Men's Choir where he loved to sing his "Silent Night" solo. He particularly enjoyed transporting other church members to church service. His magnanimous, million-dollar smile always preceded him. His sense of humor was never far away as he regaled family and friends with much joy and laughter. His love for travel was an integral part of his life. He leaves to cherish his memory, his beloved wife of 49 years, Cheryl Anderson Pegues; his loving son, Elbert T. Pegues, III ("Trey"), Hamden, CT; devoted daughter Elicia Pegues Spearman, his caring son-in-law Livie V. Spearman, III and precious granddaughter Kaila Cheryl Spearman, all of Cheshire, CT; and his dear sister, Beverly P. Morgan, Inglewood, CA.; his brother and sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, many cousins, Godchildren, Honorary sisters, brothers and children, Fraternal brothers and a host of friends will forever miss him, his companionship, his jokes and his words of wisdom. The Pegues Family expresses their sincere gratitude to the medical personnel at The Smilow Cancer Hospital, The Arden House and CT Hospice who cared for and nurtured him on this journey. (Continued Next Column)

Published in The New Haven Register on Feb. 3, 2013