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Dennis R. Jacobs (1937 - 2002)


Dennis Jacobs was born in 1937 in Detroit, Michigan. He was a graduate of Cass Technical High School and went on to attend the University of Detroit.  He graduated in the mid-1960s with a degree in mechanical/aeronautical engineering.


Dennis and his wife, Deloria, and daughter Diane, moved to Yellow Springs in 1966 where he was employed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an aerospace engineer. After five years at the base, he gained experience and test results to become a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Ohio.


Denniss’ desire to change careers inspired him to return to school to pursue a degree in Optometry. He graduated with a Doctor of Optometry degree from Ohio Stat University in 1975. He did graduate study in Ocular Therapeutics at Ferris State University in 1989. During his career he practiced optometry in offices throughout the state of Ohio.


Dennis’ varied careers were mainly a means to an end, for his true passion was flying. He began flying lessons in his teens and obtained his private pilot’s license in 1957 at the age of twenty. In fact, Deloria was his first passenger. Dennis became interested in homebuilt experimental aircraft in the 1960s. His first airplane was a Jurca Tempete which took twelve years to build. His second airplane was a delta wing, rear engine design called a Veri Viggen, which took sixteen years to build. His third plane, a Barracuda, was completed and ready to be painted when he passed. He held a commercial multiengine license with an instrument rating in airplane and helicopter. 


At forty he was accepted into helicopter training and was the only Afro-American and the oldest pilot canddate in his class at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Upon graduation, he returned to the Reserves where he flew Hueys, then transferred to the Ohio Army National Guard where he flew Cobras. At that time he was a forty-three year old captain. He retired from the Guard at age 60 with over 2000 hours of rotary wing time.


Dennis died on June 16, 2002 in a plane crash while flying the Veri Viggen (as a result of a partial power failure on take off) at an airshow in Urbana, Illinois at the age of 65.


Dennis can best be described as creative, inventive, and eclectic. He was a devoted and loving husband and father, as well as a loyal friend.


Source: Deloria Jacobs

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Alyce Earl - Jenkins


Alyce Earl-Jenkins was the first African American female to receive a direct appointment in 1974 to the rank of Lt. Commander in the United States Navy Reserve (USNR), without prior military service, as a member of the Navy’s newly established Campus Liaison Officer (CLO) Program to increase enlistment of African Americans in the U. S. Navy. While serving in the USN, Lt. CDR Jenkins she was assigned to US Navy Recruiting Command in Washington, DC, Region V Navy Recruiting Office (Columbus, OH) and Navy Reserve Office in Dayton. She was assigned to Wright State University. She resigned as full Commander in 1984. In addition to having served in Navy she worked many years as a rehabilitation counselor and educator.


Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1935 to Margaret LaVern Wright Earl and Boysie Orr, she was raised by her mother and stepfather, Arthur Fred Earl. She attended Lincoln Elementary School and graduated from A. H. Parker High School in Birmingham, Alabama in 1953 and then attended Alabama A&M College in Normal, Alabama where she majored in Mechanic Arts. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1957. Central State University (CSU) in Wilberforce recruited Alyce for the position of assistant director of printing and graphics in 1958 where she worked until 1966 when the Printing Department closed.


As a former client of The Alabama Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, Alyce applied for the Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation-Kent State University Internship Program in 1968 where she earned a Masters in Education degree in rehabilitation counseling. From 1968 to 1972 she was Director of Counseling at Wilberforce University where she obtained a small   Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Planning Grant $10,000 to develop a plan for an undergraduate program for at WU. She also fulfilled her dream of obtaining a 5-year $533.220 to develop an undergraduate program at Alabama A&M University (Huntsville) She established rehabilitation scholarships Alyce Earl-Jenkins Scholarship Alabama A&M University at Normal, AL and Wright State University Dayton, OH.


Alyce was recruited in 1972 by former Kent State University professor, Dr. Perry L. Hall to serve as coordinator of Wright State University’s undergraduate rehabilitation education program allowing him to plan and teach the graduate program, i.e., Rehabilitation Counseling: Severe Disabilities. In 1991 she submitted an application for a University Foundation Grant Project to develop Video Documentaries of Contributions African Americans Have Made to WSU’s Success. The project’s goal was to dispel the Dayton area community’s impressions the university has been negligent in hiring, nurturing and retaining African-American faculty/staff and students. Of the 22 video participants, Oris Carter Amos Cross and former Central Chapel AME Church member and Yellow Springs resident, Alphonso L. Smith are among those who participated project.  She also documented Yellow Springs’ resident Hellen McCray’s experience as A Freedom Rider that aired on DATV and Yellow Spring’s Channel 5.


In, 1993, Alyce accepted the five-year WSU Early Retirement faculty buy-out thereby retiring with 30 years of service. She then founded AEJ &Associates to work directly with private, state and federal rehabilitation agencies. She later returned to the university to serve as interim director of the Center for Teaching and Learning (1996-1998). And, appointed associate director of WSU’s African American Studies Program and coordinated its First Grade Initiative Program at Corinthian Baptist Church, Dayton, OH. She also served as coordinator of Youth Programs for the National Conference for Community Justice NCCJ 2001-2003.

Sources: Kevin McGruder, History Makers, “Alyce Jenkins,” Yellow Springs News Lib list

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Anna Hull Johnson


Anna Hull Johnson was born on December 8, 1927 to Vince Hull, Sr. and Bertha Cordell Hull in Yellow Springs. Her mother was Ohio mother of the year in 1956. She was the youngest of a family of nine. When she was growing up she lived on southern end of Yellow Springs off of  Xenia Avenue in a house that her father built on five acres of land they acquired in the early 1920´s.  Anna lived in Yellow Springs until she left for college. She thinks that growing up in Yellow Springs was very comfortable and interesting in many ways. She was baptized during her first year of life in the Central Chapel AME Church. Her godmother’s name was Anna Riddell, a neigbhor of the family, so Anna was named after her.


    Anna’s described her educational experience in Yellow Springs schools as good. She believes that they had very good teachers, and she remembers that the classes were very large and did not have indoor bathrooms. She remembers that Dayton Street looked like today just the houses changed. She describes her high school education as a real foundation for college. She explains that she learned about everything including music. At the time, girls did not have any formal or organized sports. They ran track and field but just for fun. They enjoyed watching the boys’ basketball team.


    Anna was in high school during WWII when she and several friends established the Victorettes. They were a vocal organization of young women singers. In a recent interview she noted that the Victorettes means a lot to her and that the group gave a sense of purpose to their lives and it was also beneficial for them. The Victorettes had approximately 15 members that were mostly high school students. Anna indicated that the group was characterized by their Victory song. The Victorettes raised funds for a committee of the Village in Yellow Springs.


Anna’s high school graduating class was of 18 students. After graduating high school she  attended Wilberforce College for two years and then she transferred to Howard University.  She explains that when she got to Howard University she had a cultural and race shock because she did not have the same education that people had in the cities. Howard was a great experience for her. She majored in Psychology.   


When she graduated from Psychology she started working and married Alfred Johnson.  Her husband’s parents were both from Virginia and had their own family business. She remembers that they had a hotel and restaurant near Union Station in Washington, D.C. After some time, she realized that to get better employment opportunities she would have to go back to school and get her master´s degree in social work.


When Anna graduated [from where?] with her master’s degree she started working in the social work field with a good salary. She went into the Clinical Social Work field and worked for the  Hospital of the city in Washington DC. She was there in the decade of the 1950´s. She worked a lot frequently with the doctors and she was responsible for writing the background profile of patients. Washington was segregated. She participated in the 1963 March on Washington. Anna noted that during the time there was a building in feeling between the races and after it felt like that was slowly breaking down.  African Americans could go to any hotel or other places they wanted to go. Even though, she indicated that desegregation was slow. White people started migrating to the suburban areas and with them, some African Americans left the city also. She believes that we need to support African American people in the process of integration.


After saving money Anna and her husband purchased a house in the Northwest area of Washington. She started began working in the public school system. She had two children, Allan and Alyssa Johnson. Both of her children currently live in Washington.  The family property in Yellow Springs is still under her family name.


Anna returned to Yellow Springs in 2015 for her Bryan High School reunion she says that it is always good. She and her classmates still come back together and pick up where they left off. 


Kensy Zelaya



“Anna Hull Johnson” WYSO Civil Rights Project Interview, 2015


James A. “Jazz” Johnson (1881 - 1945)


James A. “Jazz” Johnson was born in 1881. He had to have both or his legs amputated because of a childhood accident and had wooden legs. He established a shoe repair shop on Xenia Avenue in Yellow Springs in 1912. The shop was known for a wooden boot in front of it bearing the words “Try me on Jas. Johnson.”  The message is credited as the source of Johnson’s nickname “Jazz.” 


He was very popular and known for his hearty laugh.  He died of a heart attack in August of 1945. In a Yellow Springs News profile in the issue containing Johnson’s obituary, Ernest Morgan observed that Johnson’s habitual presence at a Yellow Springs restaurant, where Antioch student engaged him in friendly conversation, led the business owner to post a sign noting “We Cater to the Caucasians Race”  in the window, formally acknowledging racial segregation policies that Morgan noted were soon observed by other eating places in the Village. James A. “Jazz” Johnson was survived by two brothers, Frank, of Dayton, Clifford of Xenia, and one nephew.   


Source: Adapted from Yellow Springs News obituary, and Ernest Morgan profile, August 30, 1945


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James Henry Lawson (1859 - April 1925)


James H. Lawson was born in 1959 in Kentucky. While it is uncertain as to when he came to Yellow Springs, we do know that in January of 1883 he married Tinna (Lucinda) Newsom of Spring Valley, Ohio and raised their family in Yellow Springs.   They had four children: James Jr., Elmer, Albert, and Jennie.  James Jr. would die in 1905 at the age of 22 from lung problems.


In 1906 he entered into a contract with the Village of Yellow Springs to light the street lamps.  Per the terms of the contract he was to be paid an annual amount of $8.50 per post.  This contract also required him to provide the fuel and mantel and clean and repair each post as needed.  The contract also mandated that each post be painted annually and he had to supply the paint.  James maintained this contract with the village until 1910 when Village Council decided to abandon these lights as construction was beginning on the new electric street light system.


Owing to his honesty and dependability, and in no small part likely due to the relationships he established making his rounds lighting and extinguishing the street lights, James was elected Marshall in 1913 by a very wide margin.  He would later be re-elected and served in this capacity until 1920.


One of the more interesting and widely reported arrests he made occurred in 1919.  Dr. Laura May had arrived in town and her business partner had circulated flyers advertising her availability to see patients.  Acting on a complaint filed by the State Board of Medical Examiners, Marshall Lawson placed the doctor and her associate under arrest for practicing medicine without a certificate.


James H. Lawson also performed other work for the village such as working on the streets and clearing land at the cemetery. It was not uncommon for council minutes to record multiple disbursements for he and other elected officials.  For example the council minutes of March 16, 1915 show a disbursement of $25 as his Marshall salary from the Safety Fund.  But also shows a payout of $29 from the Health Fund for work that included the killing of ten dogs (possibly rabies?).  

His work for the village and commitment to the village created a legacy that his children and grandchildren would continue.


Elmer Lawson would head up the street maintenance and later serve on the village council that wrote the charter under which the village currently operates.


Albert Lawson would return from France after World War I and work for the Yellow Springs School System.


Albert’s son James Elliott Lawson would serve on village council and as mayor for nearly 10 years. Albert’s son Nathanial Lawson would work for the Yellow Springs School System after retirement from Morris Bean. Albert’s son Reginald would serve on the fire department. Albert’s daughter Phyllis would co-chair the movement to get the Women’s Park, work for the Senior Citizens, and be one of the founding members of the Yellow Springs Historical Society.


Sources: Kevin Jackson, Village of Yellow Springs Roll #2 Council Minutes Vol. 5-8 1900-1937, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio; The Xenia Evening Gazette April 3, 1919 p.8


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James Elliot Lawson (1923 - April 1982)


James Elliott Lawson was born on March 31, 1923 to Albert and Ruth Elliott Lawson in a home at the corner of Dayton and High Streets in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He attended the Dayton Street Elementary School (Union School) and graduated from Bryan High School in 1942. His first job at age 14 was stock boy at P.W. Weiss grocery store. He worked up to deliveryman and later became delivery driver.


Following graduation from high school, James worked a few months before being drafted into World War II. He served three years, primarily in the North Africa theater before being honorably discharged. Returning to Yellow Springs he became an apprentice with Venerable Hunter, a mason contractor, building homes for African American veterans in Yellow Springs for which there was a great need, not just in Yellow Springs but in the entire Miami Valley area. With this skill James joined the management team of Porter and Hooper construction company in yellow Springs, first building a home for his family.


For three decades following the war, James was a distinguished leader in the Yellow Springs community, both as a private citizen and as a public official working to overcome racial discrimination and to improve the quality of local government. 

He was elected to serve on the Yellow Springs Village Council in 1957 and served in that capacity until 1964, after which he served as Mayor of Yellow Springs until 1975.


James was active in the founding of the Negro Veterans Association and of the Miami Township Civic Association. He also worked with the Yellow Springs Committee for Racial Equality in the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1960s James was the author of the Village of Yellow Springs Fair Practice Ordinance which created the Village Human Relations Commission, and as a member of Village Council successfully effected its adoption as a law. The ordinance was one of the first of its kind in the United States and attracted many municipalities large and small, including Chicago, that considered adoption of a similar law.


In 1964 James was a leader in the planning and staging of the Community March of Reconciliation following a civil rights demonstration in Yellow Springs protesting the refusal of a local barber to serve black customers. The march along with the work of the Human Relations Commission was credited with restoring racial harmony to Yellow Springs following the conflict, which included police confrontation with civil rights demonstrators. The protest prompted the resignation of then mayor, Leo Hughes, who was the brother-in-law of Lewis Gegner, the barber. The resignation of Hughes paved the way for Councilman Lawson to become mayor of Yellow Springs until his retirement in 1975.


Following his retirement, James and his family moved to Eugene, Oregon where he accepted a position with Lane Community College as Cooperative Work Experience (CWE) coordinator. In this position he served as a vital link between Lane Community College and Lane County.


James died at age 59 in December 1982 of a heart attack in his home in Eugene. Survivors include his wife Eugenia Hughes Lawson, his son Philip, daughter Tanya Lawson, brother Nathaniel Lawson, and sister Phyllis Jackson.


The Northwest Career Educators and Employees Association established a James E. Lawson Outstanding Service Award in 1983 in honor of James. The award reads “The Northwest Placement Association was fortunate to have the benefit of his brilliant mind, boundless energy, innovative creativity and endless giving of himself to others.”


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Frances E. Lewis


Frances Atchinson Lewis was born on a farm in Fayette County, Ohio to Donzella and T.R. Atchison. Her family moved to Highland County, Ohio after her birth and that is where she grew up. She attended school in Leesburg, Ohio and graduated from Leesburg High School, in 1949. Her early life was that of a farm girl, which might account for her work ethic and problem solving abilities. Her father retired from farming by the time that she had graduated from high school and the family moved to Washington Court House, Ohio.


After graduation, Frances was employed at the new Fayette Memorial Hospital, which had opened in 1950. She attended Nurses College in Chicago which was beneficial to her becoming a Surgical Technician at the Hospital. She held that position until she married Joseph Lewis in 1956.


Following their marriage, Frances and Joseph moved to Dayton, Ohio where Joseph was employed at Dayton Air Force Depot. Frances was soon employed by good Samaritan Hospital, until their first child Lorraine was born. Following the births of Joseph, II and then Dianne the family moved to Yellow Springs, in 1963.  The family settled into their new home, school and church with many new friends. Frances began to volunteer as a reading mother at the Yellow Springs Elementary School and with the Girl Scouts as a Leader. The Reading Mother position eventually gave way to a full time position as a Teacher’s Aid/Library Aid within the Yellow Springs School System. She retired in 1995. In addition to the above activities, Frances worked as a Precinct Judge or Presiding Judge during special elections, primary elections, and general elections for three decades. She has been an active member at Central Chapel A.M.E. Church where she taught Sunday School and was the President of the Stewardess Board for many years.


There came a day in 1974 when her attention to detail, nurse’s training, and perseverance came to excellent use. Two young girls were walking west, on Fairfield Pike. As they crossed the creek which runs north across Fairfield Pike. One girl ran in front of an automobile and was struck and run over. Her condition was critical when Frances, who had been summoned by her children to assist the inured child, arrived on the scene.  Frances immediately began administering CPR. The child was conscious by the time that  the emergency crew arrived. They got her to the hospital where she underwent surgery successfully. The day was July 19, 1974.  Several months later the Lewises heard a knock on their front door and the child, Sari Samuel, with her mother Yoshiko, and father, Ed Samuel presented Frances with a silver tray, inscribed with the following:




Frances has been a lifesaver and life giver throughout her distinguished life.


Sources:  Joseph E. Lewis, Yellow Springs News, July 1974

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Joe Lewis 

Joe Lewis was born in 1930 in Sabina, Ohio, Lewis, where his family at different points lived on farms they rented, in town in their own home, and then on a small farm they owned on the edge of Sabina.  They raised chickens during the World War II years which were popular during the era of meat rationing.  Lewis attended public schools in Sabina, played and played the cornet in the band.  He represented the school at Wilmington College in competitions for Chemistry, Biology, and American History.


After graduating from high school in 1949, Lewis worked in a tool factory to raise money to go to college. The following year the Korean War started. A classmate, Rod Tillis who had recently received his pilot’s license, gave him an airplane ride which led him to become interested in flying (Lewis had been reading about the new radar systems being developed).  Even though he had already enrolled at Ohio State to attend in the fall of 1950, they both decided to enlist in the Air Force which had been established in 1947.  He scored well on the science and math tests and was placed in a career field of electronics and radar. The Korean War was underway and Joe was trained as a radar technician in Mississippi. He worked on radar and was sent to school in Mississippi to get training on the Doppler radar system. He experienced racial segregation off base on buses and in theaters. One day as his assignment was ending he decided that he would ride in the front of a bus, and took a seat behind the bus driver.  When his stop came, the driver informed him that he was not supposed to ride up front. He replied “as long as I’m in uniform on and pay twenty-five cents, I’ll sit any damn where I want to ride.”  He noted that the driver was upset, but because he was getting off, nothing was done.   Lewis was assigned to an air rescue squadron based in Japan, and maintaining radar on planes in Korea where picking up downed airmen with planes with nonworking radar. He would fly to Korea, fix the radar, and return to base in Japan.  


After a four-year tour, he left the service and returned to the states, where he worked as a civilian for the Air Force, initially at Dayton Air Force Depot, which was aligned with Wright Patterson Air Force base.  He worked on radar, radio and test equipment at this major air force depot. He had an opportunity to obtain training on the new Doppler radar system. Before entering the service Lewis met Frances Atchinson who had attended school at nearby Leesburg, Ohio and afterward lived with her parents in Washington Courthouse where she worked as a surgical technician at Payne Memorial Hospital.  They corresponded while he was in the service, and when he returned they continued their courtship and were married in 1956 and lived in Dayton for seven years. where their three children, Lorraine, Joe, and [need your youngest daughter’s name] __________ were born.


The Depot was eventually phased out and Lewis’s job was moved to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio. Interested in avoiding a long daily commute from Dayton to Fairborn, and interested in living in the small time environment in which both had grown up, in 1963 the Lewises decided to move to Yellow Springs, twelve miles from Wright Patterson.  As electronic technician jobs at Wright Patterson opened up he became a specialist on electronic components as part of supplying the needs on the base and across the country and sometimes outside the country. As the process was mechanized and computerized, the technicians would developing coding sheets related to the parts, as well as replace parts, and these items were input into the first generation of IBM computers for use throughout the Air Force system.  He was trained for computer programming and system analysis writing computer programming code, and became proficient in the area of supply and maintenance.  He retired from Wright Patterson in 1986, and worked for a government contractors for approximately eight additional years.


When the Lewises moved to Yellow Springs they transferred their church membership from Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Dayton to Central Chapel AME Church in Yellow Springs. Joe Lewis eventually became Treasurer of the church, and a Trustee. Under the pastorate of Rev. Harold Brown, the church began fundraising to build a new church. The new building was completed in 1972. The church grew and in the 1990s under pastor Rev. John Freeman an Education and Family Life edition was added, when Lewis was had returned to the Trustee Board.


He was appointed to a seat on the Village Council in 1991 to complete the term of a Council member whose new job would have been a conflict with council duties. Lewis was then elected to the council and remained until 1999, eventually served as President, and as Vice President. During his tenure the bike path was built in Yellow Springs, Council played a role in ameliorating chemical waste found near the Vernay factory on Dayton Street, and the pending sale of the Whitehall Farm led to a plan to preserve the land as farm land through the Tecumseh Land Trust


Kevin McGruder


Sources: WYSO Civil Rights Oral History Project, Interview of Joe Lewis by Kevin McGruder, February 22, 2017; Central Chapel AME Church 130th Anniversary Program, May, 1996;

Central Chapel AME Church 140th Anniversary Program, 2006


Neal V. Loving (1916 – 1998)


Neal Loving was born in Detroit, MI and developed a fascination with airplanes and the possibilities with flight before he became a teenager.  This passion for aviation would be the driving force in a lifetime of aeronautical experiments, employment, and international recognition.


One of the classes he took at Cass Technical High School was aircraft mechanics.  This increased his desire to build airplanes himself and by 1941 he was co-owner of Wayne Aircraft Company.  When the United States entered World War II Neal helped form an all-black Civil Air Patrol Squadron.  This group trained on assembly of his Wayne S-1 gliders along with pre-flight inspections and other Civil Air Patrol related activities.  During one such flight in 1944 Neal Loving crashed and although he survived, it was not without significant loss and challenges.  This crash cost him both legs below the knee.  During his substantial stay in the hospital his mother died and his fiancée broke off their engagement.


From this apparent devastating set of circumstances Neal pushed himself and in 1946 he became the co-owner of Wayne School of Aeronautics until 1956.  In this period he designed, built and raced a midget racer model WR-1.  This plane came to be recognized internationally as an outstanding plane in its class and has been on display at the Experimental Aircraft Association Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin since 1964.


During this period he also enrolled in Wayne State University and graduated in 1961 with an engineering degree and the distinction of, at age 45, being the oldest full time student to graduate.  While a student he built the WR-2 which was a car towable plane. 


After graduation Neal Loving was recruited to Wright Patterson Air Force Base’s Flight Dynamics Laboratory where his first assignment was work on a problem encountered by U2 spy planes.  This work garnered him international recognition as an expert in High Altitude Clear Air Turbulence.


While on a pre-employment visit to the base and visiting an acquaintance in Yellow Springs, he and his wife Clare saw a new house for sale at 660 Wright St.   This would be their home and the place where their two children Paul and Michelle would grow up.


While working at Wright Patterson Neal designed and built the WR-3 roadable aircraft and much of the time the completed aircraft could be seen in the carport on his house on Wright St.  Another unique sight would be to see the plane being towed through town on his way to the Springfield, Ohio airport for one of his many flights. He continued to fly until age 76 but even before then when he wasn’t flying he was talking about aviation and his life at clubs, museums, schools, and anywhere he could share his passion.


During his lifetime Neal Loving received more than 40 awards, he was active with more than 15 aviation professional and technical organizations, and wrote numerous technical publications.  He was the first African American and double amputee to qualify as a racing pilot with the National Aeronautic Association and the Professional Racing Pilots Association.  


In 1994, his autobiography, “Loving’s Love: A Black American’s Experience in Aviation” was published.


Sources: Kevin Jackson, MS282, Neal V. Loving Collection, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, Adapted from Yellow Springs News, obituary December 15, 1997

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Mary Catherine Mason

Mary was born in Springfield, Ohio and her parents were Samuel Neal and Rachel Buford. She lived in Springfield for many years until 1960, when she moved to Yellow Springs. When she was in Springfield, she worked at St. Bernard Catholic Church then worked in Wittenberg University as a supervisor. In 1964 her husband and she opened Gabby’s Pit BBQ. She had a long battle with Alzheimer´s disease. Mary Mason passed away when she was 92 years old in Austin, Texas on January 2018.

Rev. Dr. Wesley S. Matthews 

Rev. Dr. Wesley S. Matthews was born January 28, 1912 in Cartersville, GA, a son of the Rev. R.T, and Anna Smith Matthews. He was a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, Atlanta, GA, where he received the Atlanta Journal Herald’s “Distinguished Cup” for being the best all-around student in Atlanta in 1935. At Wilberforce University he became a popular campus figure and his associates of those days still referred to him by his nickname, “Tampa.”


Upon graduation from Wilberforce University, the direction of his eventual career took shape with his work at the Linden Community Center in Dayton, where he began forming the ideas about the importance of recreational programs for seniors. In 1934, he married Wilberforce student Ruth M. (Pat) Fields, of Oberlin. He returned to Wilberforce to study at Payne Theological Seminary, from which the African Methodist Episcopal Church sent him to Central Chapel A.M.E. Church in Yellow Springs in 1941, where he created a community playground in a vacant lot next to the church, established an enrichment program for boys in the parsonage, set up a series of volunteer-run recreational classes and led a sit-in to integrate Yellow Springs’ only motion picture theatre. What was eventually known as the High Street Community Center was noted as an interracial program designed around the specific needs of the neighborhood; and Central Chapel was integrated peacefully, with several whites accepted.


After a stint in Cincinnati he was assigned to Quinn Chapel in Chillicothe where he organized the Carver Community Center and in 1945 was voted the Jaycees’ “Man of the Year” for outstanding civic service. Assignment to Trinity A.M.E. Church in Springfield brought him back in contact with Yellow Springs, where he became part-time director for the newly organized Yellow Springs Center and continued in the directorship for the next fifteen year.


In 1962 Rev. Matthews moved his family from Springfield, Ohio to Yellow Springs. The home at 220 Pleasant Street was initially purchased by Eleanor Switzer, a white friend and colleague of his wife Pat Matthews at the Yellow Springs News, who in turn sold the home to Rev. Matthews, thereby integrating Pleasant Street. During this time, the center was recognized at a national level as a model for small communities in programs of services for seniors. Simultaneously, he was part-time pastor for St. Paul’s A.M.E. Church in Urbana, where he organized Champaign County’s first Head Start program and the Prophets of St. Paul’s A.M.E. Church choral group. Eventually, he shifted his attention to helping to organize and subsequently to direct the Greene County Commission on Aging. Poor health forced his retirement as director of the Commission in June of 1977. Upon retiring, he became a member of Central Chapel A.M.E. Church.


Rev. Matthews died on May 30, 1979. He was survived by his widow, Patricia, four daughters, Domina Matthews, Kriza Jennings, Westina Matthews, and Barbara Matthews, and a son, Wesley Matthews, II

Westina Matthews Shatteen, Domina Matthews Page

Thomas Newsome (1930 - 1977)


Thomas Newsome was born on May 14, 1930 to Leroy and Dora Newsome. He joined the Yellow Springs police department in 1960 . He died of a heart attack in December 1977. Yellow Springs Village Council passed a resolution officially expressing its “profound sorrow” over Mr. Newsome’s death, and citing his loyal and distinguished service to the community. and was survived by his parents, his widow Lorena, four sons, Brent, Bryan, Brad, and Barrett, a daughter Belinda, and a brother Randall, of Yellow Springs. 


Sources: Adapted from Yellow Springs News, obituary December 15, 1997

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Ambrose Nutt (1920 - 2002)


Ambrose Benjamin Nutt was born in 1920 in Wisconsin, the son of Ambrose Benjamin Nutt and Willette Owens Nutt and raised in Detroit.. At the age of 15, he was the first Black student admitted to the engineering program at the University of Michigan. A LaVerne Noyes Scholar at Michigan, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering. He also received a master’s of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Ohio State University. During World War II he was a member of the Air Force pilot training program at Tuskegee, and subsequently was a reserve research and development officer in the Air Force retiring with the rank of major.


His civilian engineering career spanned 40 years in aerospace research and development in the Air Force Research Laboratories at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, where he started as a junior engineer. Along the way, he became section chief and branch chief widening his areas of responsibilities. He actively participated with the minority development committee’s outreach program at the base. He retired in 1981 as director of the Vehicle Equipment Division of the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory.  He was a member of the technical team that pioneered the development of crew ejection seats for the Air Force. In addition, he worked with NASA in developing an escape capsule.


He wrote 15 technical reports and papers on crew, escape, and crash safety, 14 papers and articles on research and development management and two books on research and development management. His professional associations included the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where he was an associate fellow the National Society of Professional Engineers; Scientific Research Society of America; I.E.E.E. Professional Group on Engineering Management; and the National Association of Minority Engineering Program Administrators.  He was a member and officer of many civic organizations in Yellow Springs where he lived for 40 years, including eight years of service on the school board.


He received the Literary Award in 1971 from the Armed Forces Management Association and was awarded the Air Force Awards for meritorious civilian service in 1977, and for exceptional civilian service in 1981. From 1981 to 1988 he was the director of the Dual Degree Engineering and Computer Science Program at Wilberforce University. He was a technical consultant to the Tractell Corporation in Dayton, assisting in the development of computerized methods of gathering data to back up programs of minority hiring. He worked with the Small Business Administration as well as the Air Force in developing these outreach methods.


He settled into full retirement after suffering a stroke in 1994. He and his wife, V. Elaine Nutt moved to California in 1998. He died on August 7, 2002, and was survived by his widow, and his two daughters, Sandra Maria Nutt and Jacqueline Alma Teepen, who grew up in Yellow Springs but were living in California, and a sister, who lived in Detroit.


Sources:   Adapted from Yellow Springs News, obituary

Prabook, “Ambrose Benjamin Nutt”


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Dawn Page 

Dawn Page was born on July 22, 1963 at Fort Benning´s Martin Army Hospital in Columbus, Georgia. Her parents were Ervin and Datie Page. Born in to a military family they traveled every two years following Dawn´s father to his new assignment. Dawn had two younger brothers, Martin and Kenneth and a sister, Carol. The Page family moved to Yellow Springs in the summer of 1974 where Dawn attended Yellow Springs public schools. After attending Mills Lawn Elementary School, she then attended Arthur E. Morgan Middle School and she graduated from Yellow Springs High school in 1982. Dawn was an excellent student and runner. She set track records in the quarter mile from middle school through high school, and she also played the clarinet. Dawn enjoyed singing with a school, college and church choirs. At Central Chapel A.M.E. church, Dawn and her siblings joined the youth choirs. After finishing high school, Dawn received partial scholarships and she attended Central State University in Wilberforce and pursue her plan to become a Special Education teacher.

In 1986, during Dawn’s final year of college, the tuberous sclerosis, with her since birth, caused a brain tumor that required her to go through surgery. The tumor and surgery affected Dawn´s short- term memory, medically derailing her dream of helping children with challenges. Dawn passed away on July 29, 2018. She overcame incredible adversity, where her dreams were derailed by tragedy, and yet she became an inspiration, facing all life’s travails with a faithful grace.

Adapted  from Yellow Springs News obituary, August 9, 2018  

Donald Woodford Perry 

Donald Woodford Perry was born on September 7, 1933 in Yellow Springs, Ohio in a house at the corner of Center College Street and High Street across from the Lace Apartments. He was the first born of Kingsley and Elizabeth Perry. Later Donald became big brother to one brother and two sisters.When Donald entered first grade his parents were concerned that he would not do well because he was so quiet and did not talk much. One day his mother decided to make a visit to the school to find out how he was doing in his studies. When she entered his classroom, much to her surprise she could see papers posted around the room marked with As and Bs and many of the papers belonged to her son Donald.

 After Donald graduated from Bryan High School in 1952, he tried to join the Air Force but was classified 4F after it was discovered he had nephritis, a chronic kidney disease. He began working at PK Lumber and started saving money to go to college.


Donald worked for the lumber company for five years, driving a truck. During that time he founded the Little League program in Yellow Springs and continued working with kids coaching on the playground and helped out in other recreation programs.He had a very serious nephritis attack in 1957, which ended his career with the lumber company and postponed his plans for college and a degree in elementary education. Bills for medication, hospitals, and doctors ate up all that he had saved for his education.It was at this time that Donald switched jobs and began his six-year career as the night custodian at Mills Lawn Elementary School in Yellow Springs. He began saving money for college again. By 1959, he had enough put aside to enter Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. He studied by day and worked at night and graduated in 1963. The day after his graduation he got a job with the Columbus Public Schools.


His work was widely recognized. Donald was selected as the Jaycees Man of the Year in 1963.


His health worsened while teaching in Columbus and he began dialysis treatment, spending weekdays in the classroom and weekends in the hospital connected to a dialysis machine. When Donald decided to undergo a kidney transplant operation, the first ever attempted at University Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Patricia Perry, his sister was the donor. In August 1967 the Don Perry Summer’s End Sports Carnival was formed to raise funds for the operation.


Donald went into University Hospital on September 1, 1967 with Patricia. Five days later, the day before Donald’s 34th birthday, they operated, transferring one of Patricia’s kidneys to her brother.


Donald was confident that he would be back teaching as a substitute in the Yellow Springs schools by the next spring. “All the tests so far,” he said, “indicate my body will accept my sister’s kidney.” A new treatment at the hospital had helped him to recover some of his previous strength.. Before entering the hospital he was almost immobile and was depressed as a result. The operation was successful. All of his family wished him happy birthday and were thankful their prayers had been answered. Donald’s weak heart had skipped a beat and stopped. Donald Woodford Perry died on his 34th birthday.


The Dayton Daily News ran a feature on Donald and Patricia. In that article, Police Chief James McKee said of Donald: “He gave his time to help young people when he didn’t have any time to give and many of us will miss the smiles and the help and the friendship he provided for the kids of Yellow Springs. A Dayton Daily News editorial noted that “Don Perry was a school teacher, confidant and counselor to scores, maybe hundreds of kids.” It said his story was heroic and he will be remembered. Three years after Donald’s death, 1n 1970, the minor league, a baseball program for 6-9 year olds was renamed the Perry League in honor of Donald Perry. Robert Baldwin established a scholarship at Central State University in Donald Perry’s name to help students who are majoring in education.


Geniveve Perry Bellinger

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Kingsley Eugene Perry Jr.

Kingsley Eugene Perry, Jr. was born April 22, 1936, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He was the second son of Kingsley and Elizabeth Perry. Kingsley, Jr is in the third generation of the Levi Perry family.


In the spring of 1942 Grandma Perry died, the family moved from Stafford Street to Route One Dayton Road to live with Grandpa Perry.


Kingsley, Jr. entered Yellow Springs Public Schools in 1942. He left school at the age of 16 to work for his cousin Bill Harris who was an electrician and the owner of an appliance store in downtown Yellow Springs. Kingsley soon learned that he wanted to be an electrician. He went back to school got his high school diploma, and went on from there to become a certified electrician.


When Bill Harris closed his appliance store, Kingsley was hired by the Kettering Foundation and worked there for many years. After the Kettering Foundation closed, Kingsley was hired by Antioch College, and retired from there.


Kingsley, Jr. has lived in Yellow Springs, all his life. He married and raised his family there. He is a property owner, and a great volunteer. He has wired many of the Yellow Springs Home, Inc. homes for low-income families. He loves to visit the residents of the Friends Care nursing home and he has served on the board of the Yellow Springs Community Federal Credit Union.


For more than fifty years he has been a master volleyball player. He and his team have won the bronze, the silver, and the gold over the years many times. At the age of 81, he still plays volleyball three times a week.


Geniveve Perry

Marie Adams Perry Payton

Marie Adams was born July 30, 1929 in Louisville, Kentucky. She was the daughter of LeRoy ¨Papa¨ Adams and Mary Schooler Adams. She attended John Bryan High School and graduated in 1946. She married David M. Perry, Sr. on Jan. 5, 1947 in Covington, Ky., then moved to Cleveland, Ohio. To this union a son, David M. Perry, Jr. was born. A year later, they moved back to Yellow Springs. She married Charles Payton in 1957. They had two sons, Craig and Crista Payton. The Payton family moved to Milwaukee in 1966.


In YellowSprings, she worked as a secretary of Wright Patterson AFB and West Gate Labs. Marie received her teaching degree from Alverno College and taught elementary school. Marie was a member of St. Marks A.M.E. Church in Milwaukee where she sang in the choir. Marie and her daughter Crista traveled to many places in Europe and the United States. Marie was a member of the Victorettes and attended to their annual meetings. Marie Adams Perry Payton passed away when she was 88 years old on May 5, 2018.


 Adapted from Yellow Springs News obituary, May 17, 2018

Patricia LeAnn Perry (1940)


Patricia LeAnn Perry was born January 1, 1940 in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was born in a house on Stafford Street. Helen Stephens, a midwife delivered Patricia at 1:48 a.m. Patricia was the fourth child and second daughter of Kingsley and Elizabeth Perry and she is in the third generation of the Levi Perry family.


For Kingsley and Elizabeth Perry 1940 must have been a very good year. Their fourth child was born, they purchased a new car, a new refrigerator, and a new Philco floor model radio. 


In 1942 Grandma Perry died, the family moved from Stafford to Route One Dayton Road to live with Grandpa Levi Perry on his farm. 


Patricia entered first grade in1946, became a Brownie Scout in 1949 and went on to become a senior Scout. She graduated from Bryan High School in 1958, and then moved to New York City where she lived for a number of years. In 1965 she enrolled in Miami Jacob College.


In the spring of 1967 Patricia learned that her older brother Donald Perry would have to undergo a kidney transplant and needed a matching donor. She felt sure she would be a match, and she was. The surgery went well. The day after surgery, which was Donald Perry’s birthday, his heart skipped a beat and stopped. Donald Perry died on his 34th birthday.


Patricia began working at Yellow Springs Instrument Company in 1968 in cost accounting and then moved to data processing. She retired in 2005.


Patricia served the community well as a volunteer on the Glen Helen Board, the Glen Helen Nature Shop,  on the Yellow Springs Tree Committee feeding and watering young trees that were planted, sat on the board of the Yellow Springs Credit Union, painted interior of Yellow Springs Home, Inc. homes for low income families, and served at her church.


Patricia’s much-loved hobby is photographing nature. Some of her pictures have been sold at the Glen Helen Nature Shop.


Source: Geniveve Perry

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David Perry


David Perry was born in Cleveland in 1947 to David Perry, Sr. and Marie Adams Perry. Shortly afterward his birth the family moved back to Yellow Springs, Ohio. The whole Perry family is from Yellow Springs, Ohio. During David’s early years he attended Mills Lawn School and for his junior high years, he attended the John Bryan School. When the Yellow Springs High School building was finished he moved there and completed his last two years there. David was a member of the Yellow Springs High School band in which he played the trumpet and the cornet. He also played basketball and track and field. His school days were great and in a 2016 interview he did not remember having any trouble. In his high school years, everyone got along despite the ¨subtle racism¨ in the surrounding areas. He experienced racism in Fairborn and some areas in Xenia. He describes that he and his friends did not feel welcome in these areas and they had to leave before dark. In Yellow Springs he said that there were some places that he didn’t feel comfortable like Dick & Toms Drugstore. He didn’t feel any problem going to the theater even though in the past the theatre had special seats for black people. His parent's house was located at the end of Green St. Most of his family lived in that same place. His grandmother and uncles had houses there. Three of four houses are still there. During the Civil Rights era, The segregation policies of Gegner’s Barbershop made it the target of local Civil Right protests. David had a desire to get involved in the activities concerning the Civil Rights movement but he could not do much because he was really young and it was better for his friends and him to stay out of trouble.


After David graduated from Yellow Springs High school he went to Langston University in Oklahoma. He attended Langston because his stepfather, Charles Payton was in a fraternity with the president of Langston University. David attended Langston University for three years. and described the change of going to college as going to a whole different world. He felt nervous but at the same time, he had a feeling of belonging because it was an all black school. He decided on a major that would prepare him to become an electronic technician. During his college years, he visited Yellow Springs every summer. After graduating from college he went to Detroit where his father lived with his stepmother. There, he joined the Coast Guard and stayed there for four years. He married Sharon Glenn, who he grew up with, in 1968. They lived in California for 20 years where he enjoyed the diversity of ethnic groups in Los Angeles.


The 1992 Selma, Calfifornia earthquake was a very harsh experience for the Perrys. They had planned to move back to Yellow Springs when it was time for their retirement, but David Perry describes this 8.1 earthquake as physically and mentally shocking. After all the chaos they lived through in Selma, they repaired their house and sold everything and moved to Ohio. When David got to Yellow Springs he started working in Centerville in a warehouse. He said that he was depressed at that time because he was not working in his field. His brother-in-law suggested painting houses. He and his brother-in-law had a painting business for eight years.  He then worked in a few other jobs in the Yellow Springs area before retiring.

David Perry believes that there are a lot of challenges to overcome in Yellow Springs. He thinks that racism is still in Yellow Springs but people try to hide it. Despite everything, he loves Yellow Springs and feels safe here. He has two half sisters and one deceased half brother. One sister lives in Wisconsin and the other one lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Marie Adams Perry Payton



Marie Adams was born July 30, 1929 in Louisville, Kentucky. She was the daughter of LeRoy ¨Papa¨ Adams and Mary Schooler Adams. She attended John Bryan High School and graduated in 1946. She married Charles Payton in 1957. They had two sons, Craig and Crista Payton. The Payton family moved to Milwaukee in 1966.

In YellowSprings, she worked as a secretary of Wright Patterson AFB and West Gate Labs. Marie received her teaching degree from Alverno College and taught elementary school. Marie was a member of St. Marks A.M.E. Church in Milwaukee where she sang in the choir. Marie and her daughter Crista traveled to many places in Europe and the United States. Marie was a member of the Victorettes and attended to their annual meetings. Marie Adams Perry Payton passed away when she was 88 years old on May 5, 2018.


Rev. Richard Phillips. (1911 - 1977)


Richard W. Phillips was born in 1911 in Jamestown, Ohio to Richard and Maude Hickman Phillips. In Yellow Springs he served as associate pastor of Central Chapel AME Church, and was pastor of First Baptist Church in Yellow Springs, and Zion Baptist Church in Clifton. 


He worked at Wright Patterson Air Force Base for 29 years, and also worked as a building contractor, constructing several homs on Wright Street. After retirement he relocated to Florida where he became pastor of the First Baptist Church of St. Augustine where he served at the time of his death in May of 1977.  


He was survived by his widow, Gladys Baker Phillips, a daughter Joyce King of Cincinnati, a son Myron Phillips of Yellow springs, two brothers, Medford Phillips of Dayton and Hughes Phillips of Jamestown; two sisters Della DeVeaux and Cleo Washington of Yellow Springs, grandchildren Dr. Holly Lynn Philips, and Colby Young of Cincinnati and many nieces and nephews. 


Sources: Adapted from Yellow Springs News, obituary, May 25, 1977; BYS Encyclopedia Editorial Committee

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Adams, Lewis

Alexander, Mary J.(1937-2014)

Alexander, William E.(1934-2014)

Anderson, Walter F. (1915-2003)


Ball, Jane (1929-2011)

Benning, Andrew Spencer (1926-2010)

Benning, Deborah (1947-2009)

Benning, Ernestine Martin (1928-2016)

Benning, Ralph

Blake, Doris Frances

Blackwell, Barrett Eugene

Blackwell-Hagans, Anna Clara

Brown, DeVeaux Leonora (1933-2018)

Brown, Myrtle Marie

Brown, Susie A. (1894-1984)


Chappelle, William 

Childs, Norman 

Christian, John Bernard 

Conway Colony

Cordell,  Herman (1889-1963)

Cunningham Story

Curl, Joseph (1873-1943)


Davis, John S. & Julia A.


Felder, James

Felder, Betty Thomas

Fleming, John 

Ford, Paul Lawrence 


Gaunt, Wheeling

Greene, Therese Evelyn Marie Thomas

Gudgel Family 

Guwynn, Eliza and Dunmore


Hamilton, Elizabeth

Hamilton Sr., James E. 

Hamilton Jr., James Edward 

Hamilton, Martha J. 

Hamilton, Minnie Anna Mae 

Hamilton, Raymond A. 

Hamilton, R. Leo

The Olga & Bob Harris Journey in YS 

Hatcher, Charles & Elizabeth

Hatcher, Charles Oxley

Hawkins, William S. (1913-1980)

Holt, Cynthia Ann (1935-2011) 

Hornaday, John (1861-1944)

Howard, Ruth "Pat" Matthews 

Hunter, Joseph (1860-1936)

Jacobs, Dennis R. (1937-2002)

Jenkins, Alyce Earl

Johnson, Anna Hull 

Johnson, James A. Jazz (1881-1945)


Lawson, James Henry (1859-1925)

Lawson, James Elliott

Lewis, Frances

Lewis, Joe

Loving, Neal (1916-1998)


Mason, Mary Catherine 

Matthews, Rev. Dr. Wesley S.


Newsome, Thomas (1930-1977)

Nutt, Ambrose (1920-2002)

Page, Dawn
Perry, Donald Woodford
Perry Jr., Kingsley Eugene
Perry Payton, Marie Adams

Perry, Patricia LeAnn

Perry, David

Phillips, Rev. Richard (1911-1977)


Rice, Edward A.

Robinson, Joseph Douglas

Robinson, Lee

Riddock, Louise

Roberts, Harvey & Berina

Ross, Thelma & William 


Schooler, William M (1873-1953)

Simpson, Alston

Simpson, Mary Gail

Simpson, William Bratton

Smith, Frances Beal

Smith, Shelbert L.

Sparks, Helen White

Spyglass, James Elmer (1877-1957)

Stagner, William James (1898-1994)

Stewart, Wesley (1901-1988)

Smith, Daniel D. 


Terrell, Mary Church (1863-1954)


Wallace, Charles (1895-1966)

Walker, Robert Anthony

Williams, Jefferson (1851-1933)

Willett, Vernetta

Wright, Sterling

Joseph Douglas Robinson 

Growing up in Springfield, Ohio, Joseph Douglas Robinson was a multi-sport stand out at Catholic Central High School and a baseball star in the United States Air Force, “earning a couple of trophies for being the most valuable player in the Third Air Force, and a batch of press clippings heralding him as a “second base dynamo.” Always a sports enthusiast, while stationed at Burtonwood Air Force Base in England, Robinson was introduced to football, better known internationally as soccer, in the early 1950s.


Following his stint in the Air Force, Robinson settled in Yellow Springs in 1962 with his wife, Joyce, and their six children. Active in village life, Joe was appointed Sports and Recreation Director of the Yellow Springs Jaycees in 1964. He felt that a community sports program was needed in town—an organized team sport, geared to the spirit of sandlot fun. His vision was that “the sport should be played to build character rather than just to win. It has to teach (young People) that when you get knocked down, you get up again and go on, just as you do in life.” He believe the sport should be affordable, accessible and include a lot of participation. He decided on soccer.


The first Saturday of soccer sign ups yielded two players. The next week, 25 boys signed up to play. Coaches from Wright State University taught local volunteers about the game and a diverse group of adults refereed, timed, kept score and coached teams- now numbering about 75 boys. Joe bought eight soccer balls, NFL jerseys for players to wear- the teams were the Webb Associates Vikings, the Village Barber Shop Rams, the IGA Packers, and the Village Ford Colts- and built homemade goals. In September 1964, the Yellow Springs Soccer League was born.


Robinson ran the program, which became a model for such programs in other communities in the area, until 1977. He retired from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1986 and graduated from Wittenberg University in 1999. In the course of completing his bachelor’s degree at age 69 (after beginning with night classes in 1956), he discovered his passion for painting watercolors, and his works were exhibited and collected locally, especially his portraits of the village of Yellow Springs. A village resident for over 50 years, Joe died in July of 2012, at the age of 81.


Yellow Springs Soccer League incorporated in 2006 as Yellow Springs Soccer, Incorporated, and 50 plus years later continues to serve approximately 100-250 village youth, ages 6-14, on co-ed teams. It is one of the oldest recreational soccer leagues in the Miami Valley. “We wanted the kids to have an outlet and hopefully build some character and experience, some diversity along the way, that’s why I made sure there was a racial mix on each team. The league has remained free of registration fees and continues to stress respect, responsibility, character building and fun, as Joe envisioned.


Joyce Robinson

Sources: Tom Archdeacon, “Village Set to Celebrate Youth Soccer Patriarch, The Dayton Daily News, November 5, 2009; Lauren Heaton, “YSSI Honors Founder Joe Robinson, Yellow Springs News, November 5, 2009; Lynn Railsback, “Joe Robinson’s Love for Sports Pumps Life Into Yellow Springs,” The Skywrighter, January 17, 1969

Lee Robinson


Lee Robinson was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio in 1946[?]. He moved to Yellow Springs when he was in high school because his mother had been there before and she believed that it was a good idea for Lee and his brother to finish their high school years in Yellow Springs. His father was an electrical engineer at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. They lived in at 210 Dawson Street but sold that house and build a new one in Omar Circle.  Lee started ninth grade when he moved to Yellow Springs he realized how far behind he was and that his level of English was below average. He received tutoring during the evenings so he could improve his skills.  During his high school years, Lee participated in track and field and also played basketball. While he was in high school he worked mostly in the dining room at Antioch College. His Yellow Springs High School graduating class had 45 students. After graduating he went to Central State University from 1961 through 1965 and majored in History. In a 2015 interview he noted that Central State was very conservative, the total opposite of Antioch College. Central State Administrators focused on respecting elders and they could never disrespect the school under any circumstances.


During the 1960’s the black community was made up of people that were born in Yellow Springs and those that were coming in from other states. Many blacks from other places were coming because Yellow Springs offered them good employment and overall, a better lifestyle. The biggest employer at the time was Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The black community had access to good jobs and some of their children would attend black colleges. Lee observed that the parents preferred not to be involved in political issues because the repercussions could be negative for them. They were afraid of losing their jobs because it was very hard to get them. Central State University did not want their students getting involved in any demonstrations. Lee was present during the Gegner Barbershop anti-segregation demonstration in 1964 but he did not participate in it. He saw from the distance people taking sides in favor or against the

demonstration.  When the police started arresting people, many backed off.  The demonstration on Xenia Avenue created a sense of division among people. Their parents always encouraged their education and told them that education was the most important thing to be focused on. Lee remembered that they advised that the problems of the South would be addressed by the people in the South and that they shouldn’t get involved in it. Lee believes that the division revealed by the Gegner’s demonstration still exist today. The type of emotions and feelings in that day are the ones that people carry for life. Lee remembered that Charles Wesley, the president of Wilberforce promoted the idea of promoting a good image for the school. The image was very important for Wilberforce and Central State because the image could affect the school. They had to be very careful because the funding of their schools was involved. A bad action from students would result in a cut of their funding. Black students did not have the opportunity to speak freely because it could have a negative impact. . Lee noted that that the Gagner demonstrations were the result of attempts to test the Ohio Accommodation Law that outlawed discrimination based on race.


After graduating from Central State, Lee was hired by Bernay’s Laboratories in Yellow Springs. He started doing inspections and later moved up to become a dimension inspector. Bernay Laboratories was a precision rubber manufacturer. They became a supplier in the automotive industry with their Yellow Springs plant located on Dayton Street at East Enon Road. As the company grew it became unionized. Lee worked at Vernay until he retired in the 1990s.


Kensy Zelaya


Source: “Lee Robinson Interview” The WYSO Civil Rights Oral History Project, 2015

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