“What a Man, What a Man, What a Mighty Good Man” was the theme for the Sunday, Oct. 28, tribute bestowed upon the late Rev. Delano R. Paige Sr., former beloved pastor of the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church.

PRAISE BY SONG—Trebletones and the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church Choir (Photos by Rossano P. Stewart)

It has been four months since the passing of the well known Pittsburgh pastor, who served the Rodman Street church faithfully for 24 years prior to his 2009 retirement. Following his transition, the honorary position of pastor emeritus was bestowed upon the active retiree by his successor.

It became Rev. Dr. Darryl T. Canady’s personal desire to honor the legacy of the man who passed the baton with dignity and grace. Reverend Paige remains a pleasant memory for the parishioners who were recipients of his teaching and his love. Under the auspices of pastor emeritus, Rev. Canady appointed the 4th Sunday of every October as the day Rev. Paige would return to deliver the Word in his own distinctive style. “It was only proper,” said the young minister, “that the celebration of his legacy be held on this particular Sunday.”

As the crowd grew, so did the appreciation for the man who led the congregation with a swagger all his own. His uniqueness reached beyond the walls of the church he loved, extending throughout the community of Pittsburgh and beyond the shores of this great country. Described as a “preacher for the masses,” Paige traveled extensively to several countries on the continent of Africa, preaching the gospel and conducting evangelistic crusades. The former president of the Eastern Region of the Progressive National Baptist Convention also served as a board member of the Lott Carey Baptist Missionary Convention.

Reverend Canady talked about the man known as a preacher, teacher and humanitarian…a visionary before his time. He saw the need to expand the church to meet the needs of the growing membership, a feat accomplished in 1999. It was Pastor Paige’s passion and love for Jesus that drew people from near and far.

That same passion attracted the attention of other ministers, including the sons and daughters he trained and nurtured.

Organized by Lee Nicklos, and complete with Linda Hutcherson’s video presentation of the life of Delano Paige, the congregation witnessed an honorary service full of the humility Paige owned. Led by Minister of Worship Alton Mitchell, the service opened with the anointed voice of the Minister of Music Katim Brown, who performed a powerful rendition of “Oh Lord, How Excellent.” The spirited voices of the Mass Choir filled the air in preparation for the amazing harmony of the late minister’s beloved Trebletones.

Raindrops may have fallen outside, but the foot-patting, hand-clapping spirit filled the air of the sanctuary of the Rodman Street church on that Sunday morning. The renowned gospel group presented an emotional concert, complete with videos that were a reminder of the pastor’s devotion and commitment.

Ken Fair, an original Trebletone, took the full capacity crowd on a trip back to the “early years.” Over 52 years ago, soulful artists, such as Sam Cook and the Soul Stirrers, the Sensational Nightingales and the Spirit of Memphis, to name a few, inspired the young Paige to organize a rhythm and blues group known as the Blue Flames. The six young men were well known at local record shops and dances and made appearances on the Wilkins Amateur Hour, a popular ‘50s KDKA-TV talent show.

As Paige continued to grow spiritually, he made a decision that would change, not only his life, but the lives of others. In 1960, at the Mt. Bethel Baptist Church in Trafford, Pa., the young deacon gathered a group of teenage boys and formed the infamous Gospel Trebletones.

Answering God’s call to enter the ministry, he had one goal in mind…“Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” Psalm 51:13. And in 1972, the deacon with the heart of a pastor, was installed as the leader of the St. John Baptist Church in Lawrence, Pa. Three years later, the preacher/teacher was called to lead the Second Baptist Church of Beaver Falls, where he served until his move to the Rodman community.

Under his guidance, the infamous Tones began to place more emphasis on providing soul winning performances focused on spreading the need for a closer walk with God. Internally and spiritually, they grew by leaps and bounds. Two members of the group were called to preach and three of the Trebletones accepted positions as deacons. The impact of Pastor Paige on the lives of others was indeed making a positive impact among the people.

The “bells were ringing and the angels were singing” as the Trebletones presented “A Legacy in Song.” Musical tributes were performed from their albums, past and present. The concert ended with a rendition of “This Day,” a powerful songfest of the musical group and Rodman’s Mass Choir.

Current musicians include Bill Cyrus, Ken Fair, Bill Nunn, Ron Nunn and Ken Paige, who remain steadfast in delivering God’s message through song. Deceased members of the gospel singers include Rev. Bill King, Lawrence Paige and Rev. Delano Paige Sr.

The band of musicians who have come and gone include Elsidro Bryant, Gary Cannon, Charles Carter, David Culliver, Bill Dorsey, Bill Fletcher, Mickey Jones and Rick King.

It was a celebratory time of pride, humbled by an undeniable reverence for a man who spent his life “Falling in Love with Jesus.” It was evident by the tears, quiet laughter and appreciative smiles of the parishioners that it was the best thing Delano Paige ever did…for himself and for others. What a Mighty Good Man!

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