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Dedrick James "Teddy" Withers

Birth
Death 17 May 1996 (aged 44)
Burial Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA
Memorial ID 39576148 · View Source
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Former state representative Dedrick James 'Teddy' Withers, who played a key role in the 1991 African-American People's Convention that led to the election of Mayor W. W. Herenton, died of AIDS Friday in Pembroke Pines, Fla. He was 44. Withers had been a familiar name in Memphis politics since his election to the state House at age 22 in 1974. After losing a bid for re-election in 1984, he made several bids for elected office and remained active as a political strategist. Withers's father, noted photographer Ernest C. Withers, said his son contracted the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion in a Chicago hospital in 1985. U.S. Rep. Harold Ford of Memphis said Withers 's ability to coordinate the various political factions involved in the People's Convention was typical of his political acumen. He called Withers 'one of the greatest' at navigating difficult political terrain. "Teddy Withers came on the political scene like nobody else," Ford said. "He reminded me of myself when he defeated Tommy Powell, who was a powerful figure in the legislature." Withers was re-elected four times before his trips to Africa to form trade partnerships became a political liability. Those trips took Withers away from the legislature for part of the 1983-84 session, and became the key issue in his defeat in District 85 by Larry Turner. Withers tried for a comeback in 1986 against Turner. He then ran for city mayor in 1987, and for the state Senate against incumbent Ed Davis in 1990. Behind the scenes, Withers was a political strategist for candidates. In his effort to advance trade between Africa and Tennessee, he founded World Trade Center Memphis, an international trade group, in early 1993. He was ousted from the presidency six months later because of frequent absences from the center's office, often on overseas trips. Over the years, Withers was involved with the NAACP, Operation PUSH and the National Business League. Ford and others said politics was Withers's forte. Political activist Del Gill, who worked with Withers on the People's Convention, described him as a "political Joshua, a guy who could rally the troops." Withers was co-chairman and convener for the People's Convention, where about 2,000 black residents gathered and selected Herenton the consensus candidate for mayor. People's Convention organizers will hold a memorial service for Withers at 6:30 p.m. May 24 at Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. The funeral will be at noon May 25 at Gospel Temple Baptist Church. R.S. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home has charge. He is survived by his parents, Ernest C. and Dorothy Withers , both of Memphis; a sister, Rosalind Sawyer of Pembroke Pines, and four brothers, Perry, Dyral and Andrew Jerome Withers, all of Memphis, and Clarence Earl Withers of Los Angeles, and fiancee Shiree Jenkins of Green Acres, Fla. (Published in The Commercial Appeal 5/18/1996)


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  • Created by: Carole McCaig
  • Added: 18 Jul 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 39576148
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dedrick James "Teddy" Withers (5 Feb 1952–17 May 1996), Find A Grave Memorial no. 39576148, citing New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Carole McCaig (contributor 46785778) .