Opera enthusiast, professor & pastor Dr. Clyde McCants dies

WINNSBORO – Reverend Dr. Clyde Taft McCants, 87, of Winnsboro, died on Good Friday, April 10, 2020.

A man of many passions, McCants had two careers – first as a college professor, then as a pastor. But what made him a cultural icon in Fairfield County was his devotion to the arts; specifically, his love for and knowledge of opera.

He published four books related to opera: two on the works of Verdi, an overview of American opera singers and their recordings and a reference work titled Opera for Libraries.

A graduate of Erskine College, McCants earned Masters degrees from both Erskine and Duke University and a doctorate from Columbia Theological Seminary.

After a career teaching English at Elon University, Erskine and Gaston Community College (where he also served as department chair) and serving four years on the faculty of Erskine Theological Seminary, McCants began what would turn out to be a 40-year second career as a minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church that included service at Bethel ARP Church in Winnsboro and 11 years as pastor of Greenville ARP Church. He was elected President of the ARP denomination in the United States.

And then, at an age when most people have long since retired, he continued to serve his community as a teacher at Richard Winn Academy in Winnsboro and as pastor of White Oak ARP Church.

In addition, McCants was a knowledgeable enthusiast and collector with interests not only in opera but also the circus and country music. His collection includes over 12,000 opera CDs. Known for his outgoing personality and positive, uplifting sermons, McCants enjoyed a circle of loyal friends and had a deep appreciation for their support in his later years.

McCants was elected to the Erskine Academic Hall of Fame, was state chair of the Friends of South Carolina Libraries, and Chair of the Fairfield County Library Commission.

A private committal service will be held at White Oak ARP Church Cemetery conducted by Rev. James McManus. A public memorial service will be held at a later date.