It is with great sadness that the family of Clifton Blaine Bethune, 92, of New Castle, announces his passing on Saturday evening, December 22, 2018.
Mr. Bethune was born June 17, 1926, in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a son of the late Clifton Blaine Bethune, Sr. and Annabelle (Bush) Bethune.
Cliff will be fondly remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, sibling, friend and mentor.
He had always been a hard worker, obtaining his first job at the age of ten working for Johnston Florist in Braddock.
After graduating from General Braddock High School in 1944, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps and served until the end of World War II in September 1946. Following his honorable discharge, Cliff attended Michigan Technical Institute (MTI) in Detroit, Michigan, earning an electrical degree in 1948.
While in Detroit, he worked in the Chrysler Corporation’s former Dodge plant.
After returning from Detroit, he met the former, Jeannie Hockett at Calvary AME Church, Braddock. Cliff and Jeannie were married on January 4, 1950 and from that union they were blessed with five children. They remained in love for nearly 60 years until her passing in 2010.
Cliff began working for the U.S. Steel Corp’s former Edgar Thompson Works and Homestead Works plants, and later at the U.S. Post Office and Superior Motors in both Braddock and Homestead. In his spare time, he washed cars – always by hand. In 1966, Cliff moved his family to New Castle, Pennsylvania, when he was transferred to the General Motors Company assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio. He retired as a General Supervisor of Quality Control in 1993, following 27 years of employment and continued working as a consultant during his retirement. Unable to sit idly at home, Cliff began working in the produce department at Walmart in New Castle, finally retiring after eight years.
Brother Cliff Bethune was a nationally-known member of the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World (I.B.P.O.E. of the World.) In 1950, he initially joined Tri-Boro Elk Lodge in Rankin, Pennsylvania and participated in their Marching Unit. In 1966, Brother Bethune later moved on to join one of the oldest established Lodges in the country at Lawrence Elk Lodge No.18, New Castle, Pennsylvania. He served as the Exalted Ruler and in many other capacities such as Chairman of the House Committee, Trustee, and Treasure. He was credited with raising thousands of dollars in support of the lodge, community and maintained an excellent rapport with local and state politicians. He earned the status of Life Member by serving his lodge, in the region as part of the Tri-State Conference, the Commissioned Officer Club, and Victory Council #99 of North Western Pennsylvania. As a stanch member of the council, he was voted as the Chief Antler. Brother Bethune later joined the Pennsylvania State Association of Elks sharing his talent of singing and was appointed the Pennsylvania “Song Bird”, and with exceptional performances later appointed as the “National Song Bird of Elks” for the National Elks Organization. Brother Bethune was a recipient of The Ebony Diamond Award, which is the highest award bestowed by the Pennsylvania State Association of Elks. He also received the Veterans Department Appreciation Award in recognition for service to his country during WWII, as well as the many years of support, dedication and commitment to the PSA Veterans Affairs Department. Cliff proudly wore his red badge for years and was appointed Special Deputy in the national organization, later receiving an accommodation from PA House of Representative for dedication and service to the Elks.
Cliff will be lovingly remembered by those who survive him his son, Clifton (Cheryl) Bethune IV of New Castle and five daughters, Leslie Wright of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tonia (Francois Dennis) Ross of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Tammy (Michael) Keyes of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Tracy Bethune of New Castle, Pennsylvania and Gervais (Chris) Managio of Stafford, Virginia; two brothers, Robert Eugene Bethune of Honolulu, Hawaii and Donald (Joyce) Bethune of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; two sisters, Patricia Brown of San Carlos, California and Barbara Hutchinson of New Carrollton, Maryland. He was affectionately known as ‘PapPap’ to his 16 grandchildren, Theodore (Donna) Thompson, Brandon Bethune, Shannon Bethune, D’Sean Ross, Kristen (Corey) Nickens, Shantelle Bethune (who tirelessly and without complaint, assisted in her PapPap’s care until his death and we are all eternally grateful), Amber Ross, Angel Shaw, Andi Ross, Ronni Keyes, Shawntel (Reidus) Rainey, Kevin (Nicholas) Jeffrie, Jr., Gervais (Dana) Peele, Blaine (Lauren) Jeffrie, Raysean Glenn and Nyonna Managio; 18 great-grandchildren, Josh (Sharae) Thompson, Samantha Smith-Bethune, Chad (Allie) Stradwick, Brandon (Amber) Bethune, Jr., Gage Cross, Paige Bethune, Jordan Bethune and Robbie Marshall, whom affectionately called him BuBa, Cameron Nickens, Darion Ross, Carter Nickens, London Rainey Stokes, Kaiden Jeffrie, Nicholas Jeffrie, Cameron Jeffrie, Dana Peele, Jr., Aubrey Peele, Sydney Jeffrie and six great-great-grandchildren, Chad Stradwick, Jr., Able Stradwick, Zeke Stadwick, Nalayah Bethune, Landon Thompson and Liam Thompson. Also surviving are two Godsons, George Wynn, Jr. and Darryl Horton; two Goddaughters, Leslie Watson and Lisa Cummings and host of loving nieces, nephews, relatives and extended family and friends.
In addition to his parents and wife, Cliff was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Shawnte Ross; two brothers, Sinclair and Clyde Bethune and two sisters, Eyvonne Shaw and Theressa Hayes.
Calling hours will be 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 in J. Bradley McGonigle Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc., 111 West Falls Street, New Castle. I.B.P.O.E. service will be held at the conclusion of calling hours.
Home Going service will be 11:00 a.m. Thursday, January 3 in Prevailing Word World Outreach Center, 114 Oakland Avenue, New Castle, with Apostle David M. Young, Sr., officiating.
Interment will be held at Graceland Cemetery, Neshannock Township.
A television tribute will air Monday, December 31 at the following approximate times: 6:41 a.m. WYTV and 8:41 a.m. MyYTV and 9:58 a.m. on FOX plus two additional spots throughout the day.