By Tia Lynn Lecorchick Managing Editor
A local musician, Rufus Hope, arranged for a special benefit concert to be held at the James Madison Inn last Friday for friend Clarence White, the brother of James White who was killed in a house fire on Christmas morning just a couple of months ago.
Clarence shared the house with his brother, but was not in the house at the time of the deadly fire, believed to be started by faulty electrical wiring. The house was destroyed and now Clarence has lost both his brother and his home.
“It was a hard pill to swallow,” said Clarence White. “I lost my brother and my home. My brother was a loving person—he loved everyone and he was a helping person—he helped everyone in the community that he could.”
Since the Christmas morning fire, Clarence White has been without a home of his own, staying with relatives. “My home was burnt down all the way to the floor. There was nothing but debri left.” Friend Rufus Hope could not sit idly by and do nothing, so he decided to take action to help. “It was just a sad, awful accident,” said Hope.
“James was a fun-loving guy and a nice guy. It was a tragic thing that happened to him and to his brother Clarence being left without a home.” I couldn’t do nothing, I wanted to help. The house is destroyed and they have to bulldoze it down now. It’s a complete lost. I wanted to do this so the community, blacks and whites together, could do something good.
” The benefit concert, featuring Hope’s band, Three Times Jazz Band, attracted 200-plus people and pulled in over $2500. “I just want to thank everybody, all the friends and family, who came out to support me,” said Clarence White. “It means a lot.”
Rufus shared how some people ask if the Whites had insurance before donating, but Rufus believes White needs more than insurance. “Insurance doesn’t cover friendship,” said Hope. “He will remember this night always and all the people coming together to help him. It was excellent and people had a great time.”
Rufus Hope thanked the James Madison Conference Center for providing a place to hold the concert and other local sponsors, including Chik-fil-A, Zaxby’s, Ingles, and TA Truckstop, Peters Mobile Home Carriers, for their contributions.
“A very special thanks to Jake Grant from James Madison Inn and Carrie Peters Reid [city council member], Diane Veasley, Pastor Eddie Chapman and Elaine Williams,” said Rufus. Rufus Hope is the drummer for the band, Greg Stripling plays the keyboard, Vernon Cooper is a vocalist and keyboardist, Danny Gordon plays bass guitar, and Dennis “Baby Prince” plays guitar and sings lead vocals. Lady De-bo-rah-a Norris is the band’s female vocalist.
The band performs an eclectic set, playing everything. “It’s a good group,” said Hope. The band has been together for about seven years. Rufus Hope was inspired to help his friend Clarence White.
“You know, I’d pass that house on the way to work, and I couldn’t stand seeing it like that. I just thought there might be something I could do to help…so I started making phone calls and put this together.” To donate money to help Clarence White, contact Rufus Hope at 706-474-5092.