|Birth: ||May 17, 1927|
|Death: ||Jan. 20, 2005|
In Loving Memory of
Betty M. Flonnoy (Morrow)
May 17, 1927 – January 20, 2005
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Thomas G. Smith Funeral Home
14601 St. Clair Avenue
Betty was born May 17, 1927, to the proud parents of John Sr. and Ruby Jenkins, (both preceding her in death). She was the second oldest of five children, Cecelia, (deceased) Lois, Dorothy and John Jr. (deceased).
She attended Cleveland Public Schools where she excelled academically and was very active in various extra curricular activities, among her favorites being Student Council, The Latin and Math Club. She graduated with honors from Central High School in 1945, and was awarded a one year academic scholarship to Fenn College. One of her favorite pastimes was writing. She enjoyed composing poems and writing short stories, a pastime she carried throughout her life. She also enjoyed, every year, spending a week at the cabins at Pymatuning State Park with her family. So much so, that this soon became a neighborhood event. Each year cabins were rented according to the number of youngsters that were going and this venture turned into sort of an inner city camp experience. A venture that she was able to carry through not only with her children, but her grandchildren and her great grandchildren as well. This indeed was her favorite place.
One of the highlights of her early life was to be chosen as a participant in the Encampment for Citizenship Program, as the representative from Ohio. The program founded by Eleanor Black, and supported by Eleanor Roosevelt, mission was to explore and enhance the cultural diversities among teenagers from allover the country. The participants were chosen nationwide based on their academicals record and recommendations from teachers and sent to New York for the conference. The teenage participants also got a chance to meet and talk with Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. At a time when race relations were the unwritten law of the land, it was an extreme honor for her to be a part of such a unique experience.
She was united in Holy Matrimony to Willie Flonnoy in 1947, (who has preceded her in death). Even though they eventually divorced, Betty continued a loving life long relationship with the entire family.
Betty blazed a trail of various careers in her early life. She did a live weekly radio broadcast show from Dearing's Restaurant, entitled "Your Special Girl." She was the first African American female bank teller in a major N.E. Ohio bank; Job Counselor at a government sponsored jobs program, among a few. She directed the initial Camp Counselor Training Program sponsored by the Federation for Community Planning. However it became apparent that her heart was in community and political service. She embarked on a spirited journey that took her in and around city, state and federal bureaucracy.
Mrs. Flonnoy, a single parent of 5 children, saw the need in the early sixty's for recreational activities not only for her children, but neighborhood children as well. As her children grew up, her house quickly became the gathering place for neighborhood youngsters. This led to her forming the non profit organization - Glenville A.C.s. As the Glenville A.C's grew, a need arose for a place other than hers to manage this constantly expanding vision, thus Our Community Center was born. She was also now able to provide a worksite for area youth to work in the summer, food to families at holiday time, toys and Xmas trees during Christmas. She could provide a site for free lunches to the neighborhood youth, free home delivered lunches to Seniors and a variety of other endeavors that she would further embark on.
Through consistent community soliciting and support, she was able to take neighborhood children to area plays, Blossom Music Center, various sports events, annual circus trips, etc. One of her philosophies was that children, young adults needed to be exposed to life outside of their community. Her staff quickly became mainly her children and neighborhood youths that grew up with the Glenville A.C.'s. Later her grandchildren were endoctrined into the fold of "The Center". She always sought whatever program she could incorporate into "The Center" that would help foster her vision of providing a needed service to the community. All for little or no cost to the families it would serve.
Her commitment to her community also led her to become a diligent campaign worker. She even ran for political office herself, but that was not in the "Masters" plan. She managed and worked on behalf of many a city, county, state and national political campaigns; among such was the campaign for the first African American mayor of a major city - Carl B. Stokes.
During the Hough riots, Mrs. Flonnoy was one of the community leaders that were called upon by Mayor Carl Stokes to try to help soothe and quiet neighborhood tensions. These dedicated peopled walked the streets of Hough in an effort to help bring neighborhood peace. Later a commission was formed by the Mayor Stokes and Mrs. Flonnoy became one of the 5 Representatives of the Poor. A title befitting everything she stood for then and throughout her entire life.
Mrs. Flonnoy's dedication to the betterment of her community was unceasing. Many a time personal finances was all that was available to support the operation and maintenance of Our Community Center. But Our Community Center had to be open, especially during the summer months and at least 2 days in December. Mrs. Flonnoy had to make certain that she had a work site for the children in the summer and a place to distribute toys, food, Xmas trees and whatever else could be mustered up, at Christmas time for the community.
Endless hours were spent at Our Community Center, especially during a crisis, whether it be school or community related, during the racial tensions in the Collinwood area, she worked hand in hand with other community activist to help ease the tensions at Collinwood High School and the surrounding area. Because of the demand for a solution; an organization was formed through the City of community leaders from the predominately African American South Collinwood area and community leaders from the predominately Caucasian North Collinwood area. One of the results of this effort was funding to community organizations, thus Our Community Center began its first official fiscal year and continued on until November, 1999, when she suffered a stroke and "The Center" was officially permanently closed.
Mrs. Flonnoy was honored on March 26, 2003, by the Sixth District Police Community Relations Committee with a Scholarship in her name to be given to a worthy student at Collinwood High School, each year.
Her dedication and commitment to her community extended from young to old. Her continuous determination to fight for the betterment of all was unceasing. She was never too tired to answer a call, never afraid to fight for a worthy cause, never hesitant to take a stand for righteous whether publicly favorable or unfavorable, but most of all never too busy to help a person in need of assistance. She truly marched to a different drummer, a person ahead of her time, a person who always did things in her own way, unconventionally to many, but 9 times out of 10 she got the desired result. Her legacy truly lies in the hearts of her community. She truly set a standard, and blazed a trail for many to follow.
On Thursday, January 20, 2005, The Lord called her home. She leaves to cherish her loving memory: five devoted children Cecelia, Marilyn(Michael), Kenneth Barnes-Bey, Yvonne(Khalil), and Lee(Cynthia) 2 sisters, Lois Cortner, Dorothy Porter, 4 sister-n-laws, Mary Davis, Emma Boyd, Carole Williams and Eloise Jenkins, Brenda Johnson, 15 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, numerous number of nieces and nephews and host of other family and friends.
Lovingly Submitted by the Family
Created by: MadameB
Record added: May 30, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14449064