Clyde P. Ledbetter – Brookfield High School Class of 1937
Growing up as an African American in a segregated America, Clyde P. Ledbetter could have been full of resentment and excuses. Instead, he honed his vast array of diverse talents with remarkable fortitude, self-discipline, and courage. He paved for himself paths that others didn’t even dream of following, combining talents as a gifted athlete with aspirations of furthering his education and service to others.
The son of Mr. & Mrs. Matthew Ledbetter, Clyde grew up in Masury, OH with his twin brother, Clayton, brothers Matthew, Cletus and Lester Eugene, and sisters Geneva, Violet and Viola. As a Brookfield student, Clyde excelled as a football and basketball star. Upon his high school graduation, he was awarded an athletic scholarship (in swimming and diving) at West Virginia State University, one of only four nationally accredited black universities at the time. He graduated from college with a pre-med degree.
Like his brothers, Clyde went on to serve in the US Army during World War II and was in the medical corps in a segregated unit. After the desegregation of the Armed Services in 1948, Clyde had the opportunity to enroll in Walter Reed Medical School and graduated second in his combat medic class. He served in the Army for twenty-two years, including World War II and the Korean War, starting as a medic.
Upon completion of his distinguished military career, Clyde was recognized as a Master Sergeant and given a Certificate of Appreciation which cited his devotion to duty and spirit of sacrifice. Clyde continued his love of nursing while working in a variety of veteran, prison, juvenile, and general hospital settings. Throughout these years, he merited numerous positions, awards, and honors including five years as president of the Nurses League of San Francisco, member of the California Nurses State Board, Licensed Vocational Nurses League Certificate of Appreciation award, and serving as Head Nurse at Brooke Medical Center, Washington, DC. Clyde’s nursing career culminated with his work in the orthopedic department at San Francisco General Hospital where he served 24 years as head nurse.
Clyde was also a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and a life member of the AME Zion Methodist Church. Clyde’s affinity towards service to others fueled a desire to give back to younger generations and this was clearly manifested in his work with the Knight of Honor Civic and Social Club. Working as its Public Relations Manager, Clyde was an active fund raiser for the organization which funded numerous scholarships for San Francisco-area youth.
Clyde and his wife La Freda, would have three children: son, Patrick Ledbetter, Sr. and daughters, Carmen and Freda.
In 1989, Clyde was named “Father of the Year” by the San Francisco Spiders Civic and Social Club. Upon this occasion, Milton Marks, member of the California State Senate, lauded him for being “a role model to both young and old in exemplifying the importance fathers play in the family,” noting his “many years of civic and social involvement in the community”, along with his service to the sick, and the love and sharing he gave to his church.
Throughout his life, Clyde showed an eagerness to accept new challenges and break both racial and gender barriers. He was truly a Renaissance man who believed in service to others.
Clyde passed away October 12, 1990.