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Calvin Butts, president of the college and pastor Abyssinian Baptist church

Source: Newsday LLC / Getty

It’s with heavy hearts that we report on the death of Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts, a veteran academic administrator and senior pastor of NYC’s largest black church, Harlem’s prestigious Abyssinian Baptist.

He was 73 years old.


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Details surrounding the cause of Rev. Butts death are still being gathered, but it’s believed to be connected to a cancer diagnosis. According to NY Daily News, friend and fellow pastor Rev. Conrad Tillard confirmed that Butts died earlier today (Oct 28) at around 1AM.

More on the trailblazing life of Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts below, via NY Daily News:

“Butts, known for working with leaders from across the political spectrum, became both spiritual and financial leader of the church, serving as chairman of the community-based non-profit Abyssinian Development Corp. in creating more than $1 billion in housing and commercial development in Harlem.

In 1995, he was appointed by Republican Gov. Pataki to two state boards that controlled economic development grants to businesses. He welcomed then-Cuban leader Castro to the church that same year, with the communist wearing his fatigues to a rousing welcome.

‘What a dynamic preacher and storyteller that we have lost but heaven has gained,’ said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. ‘My thoughts and prayers are with the Butts family, friends, and the members of his church.’”

The former president of SUNY College at Old Westbury — his 20-year tenure that began in 1999 came to an end just two years ago — is survived by wife Patricia, his three children and six grandchildren. It goes without saying, but this man will truly be missed by many. From his alma mater at Morehouse College to the community of Harlem as a whole, his memory will live on forever.

Rest up, OG.

Harlem’s Own Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts Has Died At 73  was originally published on