Preston L. Pope, 92, passed peacefully into Glory on Monday, (April 30, 2012). He was married nearly 60 years to his beloved wife, the late Doris (Stewart) Pope. He was born on January 25, 1920 in Yantley, Alabama, the eldest child of the late Reverend James Hanover and Viver (Brown) Pope. He was reborn on July 30, 2011. At a very early age, the family moved to Philadelphia, PA. where he attended school. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in World War II in northern France and Germany. When he returned, he relocated to Connecticut where he married & raised his family. He has been a member of Faith Congregational Church for many years. With the advent of integration Preston became a pioneer, marking a spot in Connecticut history by becoming the states' first Negro bus driver for the City of Hartford's Connecticut Company. "The hiring….culminated a seven-year campaign waged by state organizations, civic groups, and individuals who had petitioned the bus company to hire African-American drivers for years. Among them were: The Connecticut Interracial Commission, The Hartford Branch of the NAACP, The Hartford Negro Citizen's Council and Father John Loughlin, director of St. Benedict's Center." (as cited in CT Transit News, Vol. 8, Issue 3, September-1995). A printer by trade, in 1961 he was later employed by the State of Connecticut Corrections Institute as the Supervisor of Printing for Somers State Prison, fulfilling his passion which he picked up in trade school in Philly. He retired in 1982. In his early life, he became a member of the Excelsior Lodge #3 in Hartford as a Prince Hall Free and Accepted Mason climbing to the rank of 33rd Degree. In September of 1978 he was elected to the office of Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Jurisdiction of Connecticut. He served until October 1981. He was the Past Grand High Priest of HRAM of Connecticut, and Past Eminent Grand Commander of Knights Templars of the Territory of Connecticut. During his time, he instituted the George W. Crawford Lodge #21 of Middletown and the Composite Lodge #22 of Bloomfield. As Past Grand Master he held numerous Honorary Memberships as a Past Grand Master in several Prince Hall Grand Lodges of F. & A.M. along the eastern seaboard.
Preston is predeceased by both parents, and his loving wife. Being the oldest of six children he is predeceased by sisters Mahalie (Pope) Omar, twin sisters Myra (who passed as an infant), and Mary (Pope) Vallery, and brothers James, and John Rubin.
Sadly, he leaves behind his two children; Preston C. and wife, Delair of Westbrook and Patricia of Windsor, two grandsons; Chad and Ryan, both of Middletown; sister-in-law Carmen Pope of New Jersey, sister-in-law Jane (Stewart)Wells and husband James of Middletown and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family would like to thank Jennifer Scott and her family for their relentless care and self-sacrifice, to Lisa, Martina, to the Hospice Team at MasoniCare, the Hebrew Home Hospital and many friends and neighbors. His family will receive friends on Saturday, May 5, 2012, from 8:30 to 10 a.m., at Faith Congregational Church, 2030 Main St., Hartford, CT, with a funeral service will follow at 10 a.m. Burial will take place with Military Honor at the Windsor Veteran's Memorial Cemetery. Carmon Windsor Funeral Home has care of the arrangements. Please visit us at www.carmonfuneralhome.com for online condolences and guestbook.