Norfolk State University lost one of its great advocates last week with the sudden passing of Charles Pleasants Sr. on August 7.
On August 13, Pleasants, 78, was eulogized before family and friends at the historic First Baptist Church, Bute Street in Norfolk. Interment followed at Calvary Cemetery in Norfolk. An Omega Psi Phi Fraternity service the day before was held to memorialize him.
Pleasants, who lived in Suffolk, was a former Norfolk State University alumni president and administrator, as well as a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., where he served as basileus during the 1990’s, according to Omega records.
“He was on our foundation board, chaired the scholarship committee, and was enthusiastic about students coming to NSU,” said Kelvin W. Arthur, who has managed the university’s foundation for the past three years. “We have traveled to conferences and even some funerals together.
“He was great keeper of the history of the university,” Arthur said. “He will be missed – his voice and presence. He was a constant advocate for Norfolk State. The three things that mattered to him the most were Norfolk State, his fraternity, and family.”
“He often spoke his mind; but you did not have to wonder how he felt on a specific topic,” Arthur said. “At the end of the day he was looking for a better NSU. He was rather unique as an advocate for NSU.”
Dr. Tamara Jones, a local internist and professor at EVMS who served with Pleasants on the NSU Foundation Board, first met him when she was an NSU undergraduate student. “He was a mentor and driving force behind the success for many of us in the DNIMAS program,” she said. “Without him, I would have never matriculated at NSU. I entered the program after admissions had closed. My college life would have never been the same. He demanded respect and failure was not an option. I just spoke to home earlier this week.”
Pleasants was the keynote speaker at a Norfolk State scholarship breakfast on campus on Aug. 1, which was the last time Arthur said he saw him due to a pending out-of-town trip.
“A young lady who had received a scholarship said she appreciated the scholarship she received at the breakfast. And my last memory of Mr. Pleasants was of him sitting with her talking after the event.”
Earl Fraley, Jr., a lifetime member of Omega and a dear friend who spoke at his funeral, said, “We have lost the character he represented. He helped thousands of young people while he was at NSU. That was what he was about.
“He tried to help those who might not have had an opportunity to attend school,” Fraley said. “What I will miss personally is we often found ourselves on opposite sides of a good issue. He could disagree but was rarely disagreeable.”
Pleasants was a graduate of Huntington High School and a member of the NSU classes of ‘61 and ‘83. He is survived by two sons, Charles, Jr. (Rhonda) and Michael Pleasants; 1 daughter, Linda Hughes (Austin); 4 grandchildren, Jaleesa, LaVonnda, Adam Michael, and Shaliyah; and one sister, Lorraine Hemphill.