By Erick Johnson
The fireworks were still going on at Elder Carrell Cargle’s house the day after the Fourth of July. It was the retired pastor’s 90th birthday and the Gary community came out in droves to congratulate him on another milestone.
Throughout the day, prominent leaders and residents stopped by the house on 54th Street between Harrison and Cleveland with many birthday cards and well wishes.
It was a fitting gesture for a devoted community leader who for decades gained many admirers for his spiritual leadership as pastor of the Israel CME Church at 2301 Washington St. in Gary.
For Elder Cargle, the celebration was a surprise gathering that he did not know was going to happen. The event had been a top-secret mission carefully orchestrated by his children and several residents.
Cargle told the Crusader that one of his sons, Derrick Cargle of Chicago, told him that he was going to take him out to a barbeque restaurant. While they were out, party organizers were busy decorating his front lawn with a black and gold balloon arch.
The elder told the Crusader that Derrick received a call on the way to the restaurant, informing him the restaurant received code violations from a broken air ventilation system. That wasn’t true but the real purpose of the trip to the restaurant was a way to buy time for party organizers to continue setting up for the special birthday celebration. They asked guests to park at two churches nearby.
Elder Cargle said when he returned home, he saw a man putting up a balloon arch in front of his house. After entering his home, Elder Cargle said he came out to find the arch was completed, while a stream of cars drove by honking their horns. Elder Cargle greeted the guests as they remained inside their vehicles.
Former Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and State Representative Vernon G. Smith were among several leaders who stopped by to congratulate Elder Cargle on his 90th birthday.
“It was truly a surprise to see all those people coming by and giving me birthday cards,” Elder Cargle told the Crusader.
Elder Cargle is also friends with Chicago and Gary Crusader Publisher Dorothy R. Leavell, who said, “He is well respected in the community and he made 90!”
In 2005, Reverend Dr. Carrell K. Cargle, Sr. retired as pastor of Israel CME Church, he had pastored several CME churches in the Midwest. He is the former president of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, where he oversaw 13 churches in the Northwest Indiana district and 34 churches in the Chicago district. Cargle is now the Presiding Elder Emeritus of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, where he develops ministries to reach the needs of the people in local churches and communities.
Elder Cargle is a community activist, one of the founders of the OCOS (One Church One School) and the national president. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; Past President respectively, of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana; the Presiding Elders Council, of the C.M.E. Church; the Gary Police Civil Service Commission; and the Interfaith Clergy Council.
He continues to help at the church in performing various duties.