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Eugene Callender, 87, respected religious, community leader

11/13/2013, 12:04 p.m.

Rev. Eugene Callender has died in New York City. He was 87. For decades he has been a community activist in Harlem with such a high profile that he was thought to be a Harlem native. However, Callender was born and raised in Cambridge, Mass.

A graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston University. He then enrolled in the Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pa. near Philadelphia to prepare for the ministry.

A Presbyterian minister, Callender’s base of operations became the post of senior minister at the Church of the Master on Morningside Avenue in Harlem. From that office Callender became prominent in a number of community projects, including: president of the New York Urban Coalition, executive director of the New York Urban League, chairman of Haryou-Act Community Corporation (an antipoverty agency), founder of the Addicts Rehabilitation Center, and organizer of street academies in depressed areas to inspire black and Latino drop-outs to continue their education.

Callender also had several government positions. With Mayor John W. Lindsay, he was deputy administrator of the New York City Housing and Development Administration. With Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, he was the director of the New York State Office of the Aging.

In his later years Callender became interested in Eastern religious thought. He was formerly president of the Board of Trustees of the SYDA Foundation organized to study the Siddha Yoga path.

Callender is survived by his sister Thelma Burns, who is active in public service in Boston, a brother Leland and a daughter, Renée.