Remembering Connell Delaine: A champion for Rosenwald
By William K. McCall, President,
Rosenwald Alumni Foundation
Much has been said about the endless contributions Connell Delaine made in Darlington County, and how much his passing Oct. 9 has left a void in the lives of many. And yet none so poignant as when we come to realize how his absence impacts Rosenwald Schools in Society Hill.
There is not enough space here, nor in the volumes of a thousand books, to adequately describe Mr. Delaine’s remarkable dedication to Rosenwald. It has been said that a person should die empty. Meaning that one should have poured out all of his/her talents and resources to uplift mankind. While Mr. Delaine certainly accomplished the latter, he was still full of life and energy. As an 18-year member of the Darlington County Board of Education, and former chairman, Mr. Delaine shared his time wisely, courageously and generously.
Tim Newman, superintendent of the Darlington County School District, wrote: “Mr. Connell Delaine spent the better part of two decades advocating for and acting in the best interest of the children of Darlington County.
“He truly believed our students deserved the best possible education we could give them and that Darlington County was capable of doing so. He helped guide the county and the district through several transitions, including leadership changes, 21st century technology implementation and several substantial capital improvement projects.
“He believed the district must always strive to be better and to do what is right for students. He also believed strongly in providing better incentives, encouragement and training in order to recruit and retain highly qualified educators and staff. Mr. Delaine’s impact in the district stretches far beyond his time spent in board meetings. He was an enthusiastic, kind and respectful supporter of countless district events and a regular visitor in our schools.”
While he was serving as District 2 representative on the board that includes Rosenwald Elementary/Middle School (REMS), he had feasible plans and viable goals for the school.
Kimberly Mason, principal, stated: “Mr. Delaine was completely invested in giving Rosenwald students the best education and experiences that were possible. He constantly recognized teachers’ contributions to the lives of our students, gave yearly pep talks at teacher in-services, and financially contributed to any, and all, initiatives here at REMS.
“Never intrusive or expecting attention, Mr. Delaine, a cheerleader at heart, attended most of our school events from gratitude luncheons and Christmas musicals to Completer Programs, awards ceremonies and basketball games. He pushed all of us to be great!”
In addition to his 26-year military career, Mr. Delaine became uniquely qualified to be a voice for the underserved and vulnerable through his work as a therapeutic intervention counselor for the Billie Hardee Home for Boys. Additionally, he has served as a summary court judge in Society Hill, and on the governor’s 4th Judicial Circuit Youth Force.
Bill Boyd, past interim superintendent of the Darlington School School District, stated: “Mr. Delaine was a great advocate for the children and employees of Darlington County School District. He will be greatly missed.”
In addition to, and in alignment with, his work on the school board, Mr. Delaine was committed to preserving the legacy of Rosenwald High School, which closed in 1982.
He took pride in making sure the school board and superintendents were engaged with Rosenwald alumni. A 1964 alumnus of the school, he passionately promoted Alumni Foundation initiatives.
High school classmate Mary Earle Williams McClam wrote: “Connell loved Rosenwald, especially his class. He would go out of his way to make sure that we were well informed about the school’s reunion. Connell will always be remembered as a caring and dear friend and the heartbeat of the class of 1964.”
At the time of his death, Mr. Delaine had been leading the effort, in conjunction with the Alumni Foundation, to participate in South Carolina Department of Transportation’s “Adopt-A-Highway” program. Rosenwald Street, where the high school property sits, is the road that was to be adopted and was slated to be unveiled during the 2021 school reunion.
In addition to this project, in 2014, he spearheaded the establishment of “Rosenwald Professors’ Park” across the street from the elementary school site.
Mr. Delaine was a charter member of the Rosenwald Alumni Foundation. He was inducted into the Order of the Golden Eagle that acknowledges alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago and participate in the school reunion, of which he had perfect attendance since 1994.
He also served on the Foundation’s Athletic Hall of Fame committee that identifies standout student athletes to be inducted. This work is in collaboration with former Rosenwald coaches Alvin Heatley and James Harrell.
Scottie Benjamin, who chairs the committee, wrote: “Since the inception of the Rosenwald Hall of Fame, Connell has played such a vital role. He provided valuable insight and historical knowledge to the committee. His passing is such a tremendous loss.”
As a retired sergeant major in the Army, SGM (retired) Delaine influenced other Rosenwald alumni veterans to make financial contributions to the projects of Rosenwald Elementary/Middle School and the Alumni Foundation. These included co-sponsorship of the REMS 8th Grade Essay contest; donations to REMS teachers’ school supplies; total funding of the aforementioned Professors’ Park; and sponsorship in the Alumni Foundation’s school reunion souvenir program.
In the community, Mr. Delaine made an effort to draw a parallel between Rosenwald and organizations in which he was most active including Pee Dee Lodge No. 56, F&AM, PHA, of which he was a Past Master, and Bethesda Baptist Church, of which he had been Deacon Board chairman. Both organizations have a large alumni membership, and he encouraged and inspired their participation in the Foundation’s School Reunion.
The word “champion” is synonymous with advocate, proponent, promoter, supporter. The Honorable Sergeant Major (retired) Connell Delaine embodied these characteristics in his relationship with Rosenwald.
He leaves an indelible mark on our schools. We are all the better because his life’s journey traveled through Society Hill and the halls of Rosenwald.