Claude Charles Scarborough Jr., 70, of Wyncote, an educator who helped students get GEDs and prepare for college admission, died Saturday, March 3, of heart failure at his home.

Claude Charles Scarborough Jr.
Courtesy of the family
Claude Charles Scarborough Jr.

Mr. Scarborough's dream was to help underprivileged young adults improve their basic education and literacy. He prepared for that role by immersing himself in reading-education skills, social studies, and African American history.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Lincoln University and went on to teach in the 1980s at the Philadelphia Job Corps, an education and job training center.

While working full-time, Mr. Scarborough earned a master of education degree at Cheyney University, and then was hired by Community College of Philadelphia. His role was to help students with low test scores improve their learning skills so they could be admitted to the college and succeed.

"Claude had the patience, knowledge, and commitment to work with this population," said his wife, Rhonda. "He was commended for the results that his students achieved, not only academically, but for the level of confidence they demonstrated."

He remained in the job until health issues forced his retirement in 2007. Even in retirement, as health allowed, Mr. Scarborough tutored and mentored young people who were having academic trouble or needed help pursuing a GED, the high-school equivalency degree.

"He was always the respectful, knowledgeable man who loved to give back to his community," his wife said.

Born to Claude C. Scarborough Sr. and Alice "Jackie" Johnson, Mr. Scarborough was raised in a blended family in North Philadelphia.

As a youth, he attended Emmanuel United Methodist Church, serving as president of the Methodist Youth and Young Adult Fellowships. He represented his church at many conferences and gatherings.

He also played the French and baritone horns and accompanied the Salvation Army Band, along with his younger brother, John, now a professional musician.

He graduated from Thomas Edison High School in 1965 and immediately enlisted in the Air Force. Mr. Scarborough was honorably discharged with the the rank of sergeant (E-5) in 1969.

Mr. Scarborough married Ida Jamison in the 1960s. They had three children before her death at age 42. In 1989, he married Rhonda Fleming at St. Luke's Episcopal Church of Germantown. She has a son from a previous marriage.

After his second marriage, Mr. Scarborough became active at St. Luke's as a choir member, and on the Arts Guild within the church. In later years, Mr. Scarborough received an invitation from Jane M. Gilmore, a family friend and director of the Winston Memorial Choir at Mount. Zion Baptist Church of Germantown. She hoped he would sing in her choir, and he accepted.

A baritone with a mellow sound, Mr. Scarborough rarely missed a Sunday or rehearsal at Mount Zion until his health began to fail, Gilmore said. His favorite hymn was "Blessed Assurance."

"He was a wonderful person," Gilmore said. "He's singing in the heavenly choir now."

Mr. Scarborough enjoyed following the Eagles, traveling with his wife, watching TV, seeing movies, and spending time with friends.

"He was a voracious reader and conversationalist, always in pursuit of improving himself and his skills, because of his humble beginnings in North Philadelphia," his wife said. "Therefore, he became a lifelong learner."

In addition to his brother and wife of 28 years, he is survived by her son, Khary "Shi'ar" Fleming, and his children Rachel C. Scarborough, Angela Scarborough Dixon, and Matthew Scarborough; three grandchildren; four brothers; a sister; and many nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held on Thursday, March 15, at Mount Zion Baptist Church of Germantown, 41 W. Rittenhouse St. A viewing at 8 a.m. will be followed by a funeral service at 10 a.m. Interment will be at 2:30 p.m. with full military honors at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, Newtown Township, Bucks County.