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Obituary: Ronald M. McCaskill, a lawyer and pastor, 77

For years, Ronald M. McCaskill lived a life that was more than full enough for two men. Because, for a portion of his professional career, Mr. McCaskill was both a practicing lawyer and a church pastor.

For years, Ronald M. McCaskill lived a life that was more than full enough for two men.

Because, for a portion of his professional career, Mr. McCaskill was both a practicing lawyer and a church pastor.

However, Mr. McCaskill was seriously injured in a near-fatal automobile accident in 1982 and had to give up both careers. He would spend the remainder of his life as a resident at care centers.

For most of those years, he lived at the Recovery Care Center in Malvern. For the last five years he lived at the ReMed Care Center in West Chester.

He died Nov. 14 at the Neighborhood Health Inpatient Hospice in West Chester from complications of the traumatic brain injuries suffered in the accident. He was 77.

Mr. McCaskill was born in Philadelphia in 1939 to John McCaskill and Bernice McCaskill Newsome.

He grew up as a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church and was a 1958 graduate of Germantown High School. In 1961, he graduated from Lincoln University, where he traveled as a member of the university's choir.

He went on to receive a law degree from Howard University School of Law in 1964.

After law school, Mr. McCaskill worked under attorney Leonidas A. Allen. He later was an assistant district attorney under Arlen Specter, who was then district attorney of Philadelphia. He also served as assistant city solicitor.

He later went into private law practice and was a friend of civil rights activist, lawyer, and NAACP president Cecil B. Moore.

"I remember when Cecil would come to the house when we were living in Yeadon and they'd go out on the back porch talking about cases until dawn," said Eileen McCaskill, who was Mr. McCaskill's second wife.

"He was very fun-loving and easy-going in his personal life, but he was a fierce argumentative attorney in the courtroom," Eileen McCaskill said of her former husband.

"You had better be prepared if you were coming up against him in court. He was very well-regarded by both the pastoral and legal communities."

Eileen McCaskill, who married Mr. McCaskill in 1974, said that although he was a lawyer, about 11 years after graduating law school her former husband felt the calling to preach.

In 1975, Mr. McCaskill presented his trial sermon at Mount Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church, where he went on to serve as associate pastor.

It was there that he met and married Eileen Harris. From that union, a daughter, Mercedes Monique McCaskill, was born.

In 1978, Mr. McCaskill moved his family from Yeadon to Pleasantville, N.J., were Mr. McCaskill was called to pastor at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

The couple divorced in 1980 and Mr. McCaskill continued to pastor at Mount Pleasant Baptist until his car accident in 1982.

Mercedes McCaskill, who was only 6 years old when her father sustained his life-changing injuries, said she has memories of him prior to the accident, when he would take her to Disney on Ice shows in Philadelphia or to Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

"He was a loving person, even throughout his illness," Mercedes McCaskill said.

"He was my father and just the little things we did together, we made the best of it, even though he wasn't feeling well," she said.

In addition to his second wife and his daughter Mercedes, Mr. McCaskill is survived by his first wife, Evelyn, to whom he was married in 1964, and three children from that marriage: a daughter, Ronlyn McCaskill Dandy, and twin sons Russell and Ronald McCaskill Dandy, and a step-daughter, Lisa Jenkins Araujo.

Also surviving are four stepsisters and two stepbrothers.

There will be a viewing for Mr. McCaskill from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Nov. 21, at the Helen E. Waite Funeral Service, 1907 N. 63rd St., Philadelphia.

A graveside service will be held at 12:30 p.m. Monday at Fairview Cemetery, 1511 Twining Rd., Willow Grove, Pa.

215-854-5987 @ValerieRussDN