Carolyn Byrd has left this mortal plane, but we have the assurance that her departure, March 22, 2021, in Pittsburg, PA did not take God by surprise. She loved the Lord and that was her number one goal…to live a life that was pleasing in His sight. Because of her faithfulness, God orchestrated many and sundry events, opportunities, and miracles in her life. As a young woman, she left Canton, Ohio, the city of her birth, bound for the ‘rotten apple’ (NYC…at least today, it could be described in this manner!) seeking her future (not fortune). But the Word of God says, “The Father knows these things you have need of, but seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” She did that and so did He!
Having just arrived in New York, she entered the Miss Harlem Pageant… and was crowned as such. She landed at the women’s residency hall of the 8th Ave. YWCA and Bette Midler were living on her floor.
Carolyn auditioned for a then very popular game show titled, ‘You Don’t Say’ with host, Bill Cullen. She won three large prizes, one was a motorcycle, which she sold of course to pay the taxes on the two she kept. That is how it goes, whether you know it or not.
Show business came with all the glitz and glamour (and money), but she remained faithful and steadfast to God’s Word. She appeared in “Purlie” on Broadway, starring Melba Moore, Sherman Hemsley, and Cleavon Little. That was followed by Eubie Blake’s hit, “Bubbling Brown Sugar” in which she created the role of Gospel Lady. The role took her far and wide, across the United States and to the other side of the world.
It was a rich experience, which spun off two daily soap operas, one, The Doctors on NBC in which she assumed the role of Dr. Terry Foster. Shew was stunning with the stethoscope draped around her neck.
There were numerous television commercials and a cameo appearance in Gordon Parks Across 110th Street. She was still receiving royalties for the filming of the TV show, Kate & Allie, in which she appeared. The most recent was for less than a quarter!
Carolyn was dedicated to assisting the lowly and downtrodden. She supported numerous ministries and charitable organizations. Meeting Mother Clara Hale of Hale House for crack babies, she began performing an annual charity concert at Lincoln Center for Hale House. When Mother Hale died, some years ago and her daughter left mother’s fabulous mink coat for Carolyn…I asked for it…she declined, but later she sent it for my birthday (really, it was too small for her anyway!)
She was a reader and a lover of the song “from the gentle age of three”. She was in the youth choir at the Shiloh Baptist Church, Canton, Ohio, concert choir at McKinley High School and that just whetted her appetite for her life’s calling, which she often articulated. She went to the Cookery in the village with gospel singer Marion Williams and was in the company of some of the more recognizable names in the show business of that time.
The Word of God was her rock of Gibraltar and she stood on it…regardless! Misunderstood for doing the biblical thing in a twisted, perverse generation as the word of God says. Such insight and wisdom she conveyed to her family and her ally were the Holy Ghost. She read Psalm 91 daily, especially after the introduction of this current upheaval (you name it) in the world. She observed communion daily and if you called her answering service you would hear lilting soprano singing the phone greeting…saying Hallelujah, etc.
Carolyn was ordained into the ministry in 1990 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, already walking (prophetically) in the way; that was just the official recognition of many of her God-given gifts. She was compassionate, generous to family and friends, loyal, laughed easily, and laughed often.
As her later father, Deacon John Byrd, and her late mother, Velva L. Williams, have gone ahead, along with her adored grandmother, Mrs. Mary D. Randle, her presence is deeply missed by sisters, Patricia A. Kennard (Miss Pat) of Akron, Oh, Valerie Enlow of Wadsworth, Oh; brother, Jonathan P. Byrd of Santa Rosa, CA; uncle, Jesse (Evelyn) Byrd of Canton, Oh; aunt, Girtha L. James of Chicago, Illinois; nieces, Maya (Quartic) Kennard Williams and Dyamond (Scott) Pittman; her special grand niece and nephew, Aria and, Aiden Pittman, her heart. And cousins all over the United States. Just think of it…a world without tears…if you are ready to meet Jesus, for you, this can be a reality. This is what Carolyn would want.