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Living Role Models


Ishmael Trone

Ishmael Trone

J.D. McCann

J.D. McCann

Robert Icart

Robert Icart

John McCall

John McCall

Ron Brown

Ron Brown

Sylvester Caesar

Sylvester Caesar


The Journal presents the stories of six African American men who have achieved much in their lives. Their stories should serve as inspiration to a generation that has been fed a constant diet of failure and negative images about their lives and accomplishments. In the midst of the negative images are millions of Black men whose stories go untold. These stories are heart warming testimonies of lives that rely on one underlying theme. That theme is: "You can make it if you try." Some found a need and filled it and some discovered a passion and pursued it. When combined, their stories are there to be consumed and followed as models that can restore the faith in the proverbial statement that all men are created equal.

Life's opportunities are not equal but the opportunities always arise and each man finds himself at a crossroad in their lives. When that crossroad presents its choices, chose well and there can be unbelievable success and fulfillment of dreams. If the choice is unwise and based on immediate pleasure, it can lead to unbelievable pain and failure.

The men profiled here have chosen wisely and their stories stand as testimony that the theme works. They took the right turn when faced with it and worked hard to succeed, and life responded with success.


When Ishmael Trone's mother decided in 1967 to leave their family home in Birmingham Alabama, she packed the family's 1957 Chevrolet and headed west landing in Pasadena, California. What she was looking for was a better life for her and her seven children including the baby boy, Ishmael. What Ishmael's mother, Madelyn, found was a mixed blessing. She left behind an abusive husband and a south that was not kind to African Americans.

The family ended up in a small apartment on west Orange Grove Avenue. Madelyn took her college degree and found a job as a Probation Officer for the County of Los Angeles. The next year she met and married a barber named Felix Richard, Jr. Madelyn and Felix opened Felix and Madelyn's Bail Bonds office at Orange Grove and Raymond, two years later.

The Bail Bond became the source of young Ismael's first job.

He could be found doing all the menial tasks that go with owning a business. He remembers the painful job of sweeping off the sidewalk in front of the business. Not because it was hard, but because the other children in the community ridiculed and teased him for working. That work not only provided young Ishmael a job but training for a future in business. The building at Orange Grove and Raymond where he was teased now serves as the base for his businesses. Buying that building over forty years ago is testimony to the wisdom of Felix and Madelyn.

Ishmael went on to finish Pasadena High School and attended Cal State Northridge as a business major. When he was offered a contract to do some work for the State of California he jumped at the opportunity and went to work for the state. Today he owns F&M Business Services. Trone is a true entrepreneur. His multifaceted business deals in Real Estate, tax preparation, business development and mortgage loans. And he still works with his mother in the family Bail Bond business.

Ishmael and his wife, Juanita, have two girls. The girls attend PHS and Norma Coombs school in Pasadena. He is community minded and shares his wisdom and experience as chairman of the Fair Oaks P.A.C. He also serves as a member of the Pasadena Community Development Commission and as Executive Director of the San Gabriel Valley Black Business Association.

While Pasadena has been kind to Ishmael with the legacy of that trip long ago from Birmingham, it has also served up some painful memories. Of the seven children who piled in that Chevrolet in 1967, three brothers and one sister, having been lost to the fast life of the drugs and alcohol of the Pasadena street life, have all lost their lives. One of his other sisters is a financial consultant, and the other owns a Beauty Supply in Rancho Cucamonga. Ishmael is a survivor, and his passion for the community and it's needs grows out of the pain of observing his brothers and sister who choose and lost to the street life.

You may contact F&M Business Services at 626-796-8164.


Robert Icart was born in New York in 1973, one year after his family arrived in America from Haiti. In 1975, the family migrated to Pasadena to live with an uncle living in Altadena. Today Icart is the founder and owner of the Basketball Training Institute.

This Institute trains and provides those interested in Basketball a possible career, training in skills as individual and in small groups.

His popular program is tantamount to training Tennis players the various and specific skills of serving and or volleying. Icart trains the skills needed to be a good guard, a passer, shooter, and other individual skills.

Icart attended schools in the Pasadena area. After Saint Elizabeth school, he attended Ribet Academy and Reynolds Academy. He received his BA degree in Kinesiology and Physical education from Concordia University.

He honed his basketball training skills as JV and varsity coach at John Muir high School from 1993 to 1996. He later served as basketball coach at Orange Coast College from 1996 and 1997. He has also worked as a recreation leader at the city of Duarte and Costa Mesa.

While at Contra Costa College, Icart got involved with a non-profit organization called the ARC (American Roundball Corporation). It was there that he saw the opportunities for private training in basketball. He formed BTI and began to conduct classes for those who were serious students of basketball. He rented facilities for his skills clinics and classes. In 2002, he became involved initially as a tenant, and later under a contract with the Pasadena Boys and Girls Clubs, where he still holds classes in a special program.

He is proud of the fact that as part of his program there is SAT preparation and an emphasis made as to academics. No academics, means no basketball. This theory is in part of the training for students who want to prepare for college basketball. He is passionate about getting his athletes prepared for college. His program is a for pay but scholarships are available. Contact him the Boys and Girls Club on North Fair Oaks or at (626) 797-8112.

Icart and his wife, Linda, live in Pasadena with their three year old daughter.


After spending years as a manager of one of America's largest long distance telephone companies, Jim McCann stepped out on faith and started J.D. Communications, Inc. The company started in 1984 and provides telephone and telecommunications services for large and small needs.

As a former telephone employee McCann served in all areas of telephone service from lineman to fiber optics transmission installation specialist. Today, after over twenty five years of experience, this longtime Pasadena area resident is still serving customers in the area.

As owner of J.D. Communications he can guarantee top quality and timely service whether it is commercial or private residence. Whether a customer needs computer cabling, phone jacks, intercom systems installed or simply moving or adding phone lines he is there to serve. Fast response and money saving competitive prices are standard parts of what J.D. Communications offers.

Formerly located at the top of Lake Avenue across from Bank of America, in Altadena, today his offices are located in Hopkins Village at 1549 North Lake Avenue, in Pasadena. J.D. Communications may be reached at 1-800 200-7283 or by cell at (626) 831-2136.


As a young man about to graduate from high school in his native Pineville, Louisiana, John McCall was told by his counselor that he wasn't college material. The counselor told him he needed to join the Army and forget about college. At the time Louisiana was in the third or fourth year of court ordered integration of the public school system. McCall went and signed up for the Army, however, the day before he was to report for service, he got a letter that indeed he had been accepted as a student at Louisiana's Northwestern State University. He chose to opt out of the Army.

That decision resulted in his earning a B.A. in social work in 1978. He later earned his Masters at the University of Houston, in spite of the fact that he arrived at the campus with little more than his Baptist bred faith and no money. Today, he is a Board Certified L.C.S.W. (Licensed Certified Social Worker).

After Houston and a set of circumstances that kept him from getting a promised position in Texas, he returned to Louisiana where he went to work as a Social Worker at the Veteran's Administration Hospital. In high school McCall had enrolled in a Health Careers Academy. By combining the skills developed in the Health Care Academy and college social work, he was off and running into what has become his life work of helping people both as a health care program administrator and pastor.

McCall sought work in Louisiana in the state hospital for the mentally ill but eventually had

to move to California to get work. He arrived in Altadena in 1980 where he met his wife, Juanita. In California he worked for the Regional Center for four years and later spent twelve years as a Social Worker at Pasadena's Five Acres. Five Acres is a residential treatment center for children with a variety of psychological needs. He eventually worked his way up to Director of Social Work and then Director of Residential Treatment.

He learned a lot at Five Acres but remained concerned that while advocating for children after they get psychologically damaged was great, his passion was to develop a program that would advocate for children before they became damaged.

With that as a theme he set out to develop an agency to fill that need of getting children before they got into trouble.

Eventually he started what became D'Veal Family Services. The program began with after school programs that included computer training, remedial education, tutoring, snacks, and training to develop study skills. Today with ninety employees at eleven sites, D'Veal is the only minority operated mental health agency in the San Gabriel Valley. The program is complete with social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists.

McCall is concerned with trauma intervention to help people get through the trauma of gang violence and other problems including the trauma of a family losing it's home.

He and his wife have three daughters. He is pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church located at 1972 North Fair Oaks Avenue, in Pasadena. It's a church with a great emphasis on programs and services for children in the community.


Ron Brown is a master musician with a Jazz/Gospel Ministry. Born, raised and educated in Austin, Texas, Brown is a Saxophonist extraordinaire who has played with the likes of the Duke Ellington band, under Mercer Ellington. He has also played with such musical luminaries as Natalie Cole, Diana Ross, and his longtime friend Kirk Whalum.

Growing up in Austin, Brown earned a Bachelors degree in Music Education from the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to Dallas, Texas where he began a short teaching career. He taught music at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. While teaching, he headed a small jazz combo and gained some notoriety as a performing jazz artist. His talent as a performer led to a number of accolades, not the least of which was a Ron Brown Day in his native Austin.

In 1981, he headed to California to find his mark and a career as a full time performer in the music industry. He returned to Texas for a short time but eventually returned to California landing a position as a back up to Natalie Cole. Teaching became his back-up position, and performing was his career. Brown's career has seen some unusual turns. After an unfortunate event that led to a drug habit he found Christ in 1998, was delivered from drugs, and his life changed. Today, he has an ongoing relationship as a performer in Japan and a ministry as a Jazz/Gospel performer. He is fluent in Japanese and performs Gospel concerts in Japan, where he is popular on the Christian music circuit, two to six times a year. In addition to the Japanese Jazz /Gospel circuit, he is a regular at Pasadena's First AME Church. It is not unusual to see a delegation of Japanese visitors at First AME to share in the worship and see Ron Brown perform at his home church.

His relationship with Japan started in 1989 when he traveled there as part of a Broadway show there to perform, "Ain't Misbehavin." He says he was bitten by the kindness of the Japanese people where he says he was treated royally. A year later he found himself back in Japan giving his testimony of deliverance as part of a performance to over 6,000 people who came out to see him perform. He had been sought out by a Japanese Pastor who came to America to find Ron and asking him to play at a stadium in Japan. With that trip he felt the call to the ministry and life has never been the same since. He recorded his first Jazz/Gospel album in 2000, "In the Spirit", and later on his own label called the Urban Jazz Network.

He lives with his wife, Barbara of 33 years, in Altadena. They have three daughters Devin, Erin, and Astin. He is studying for a masters in "Worship Theology and The Arts, at Fuller Seminary, as he expands his ministry. Ron may be reached at (626) 821-9771.SYLVESTER CAESAR

Sylvester Caesar was born in rural Pennagrass, Georgia where his parents worked the land as farmers to support their family. A true believer in Christ, he once found himself in India, seeking God. Today, Caesar is an ordained minister determined to live according to God's word. He and his wife, June, are owners of "Line In The Sand" Thrift Store located at 1547 North Lake in Hopkins Village. The store, like his life is dedicated to helping people who find themselves on hard times.

In 1959 Caesar moved to Pasadena to live with his brother who had left the rural life and come to California. He attended John Muir High School and then began traveling, living in Fresno, California for a time. After India, he returned to the states, living in New York, before he returned again to his home base of Pasadena. Always a hard worker he started a handyman business in Pasadena. One client had him building recording studios and working with artists like Shaka Khan, Little Richard and Prince.

"Line In The Sand" is as much a part of his Christian calling as it is a business. At the store there are a variety of quality goods including clothing, toys and small appliances. It is a good place to browse and shop knowing that what you spend will be used wisely to help others. You may call Line in The Sand at 626-798-5146.


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