Leona W Farris born in Cleveland, OH August 11, 1917 to Lucy Taylor Wright and John B Wright. She passed away peacefully in her home of natural causes February 27, 2022.
Graduate of Cleveland Public Schools; B.S. in Home Economics (Education) at The Ohio State University (OSU) in 1940 and M.A. Kent State University (KSU) in 1970. She taught foods at Kennard Jr. High in Cleveland, OH 1940-44. She was hired as the first Black female at the rank of Assistant Professor in 1969 at University of Akron (UA). She taught Child Development, Family Management and Consumer Education. She actively sought organizations that would provide training opportunities for her students. Among them were the Model Cities Program and Headstart. She was proud of the fact that, during her tenure, the number of such agencies increased to 95. She built a name for herself among the families helped, independent of being a doctor’s wife. She retired as faculty emeritus in May1988. In 1939, She joined the sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) and celebrated 82 years in 2021 as a Diamond Soror. She was very proud of her soror, Vice President Kamala Harris.
She spent many years volunteering starting in 1955. When she was still attending OSU, her mother said to Leona, “You need to reach out and take care of other people.” Her volunteer involvement included Western Reserve Girl Scout Council 25 years, United Community Council and Summit County United Way, OSU Alumni Association, Akron Urban League, Ohio State Extension Service in Summit County, United Disability Service, OASIS Advisory Council, Heather Knoll Quality Care Advisory Council and Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council.
At UA she was a Life Fellow in the Institute for LifeSpan Development and Gerontology, Sigma Phi Omega (Gerontological Honor Society), Advisory Committee for the Center for Family Studies and the Exhibit Committee for the Dr. Shirla R. McClain Gallery of Akron’s Black History and Culture. She’s a Life Member and Golden Heritage Member of NAACP. She enjoyed her flowers and vegetable garden.
The most influential person in her life was her mother. She encouraged Leona to go to college and become a teacher. She learned from her mother:’ Eat right, exercise and do something for someone else.” She summed up her philosophy of life, as “life is a journey, not a destination. The main purpose of life is emotional and spiritual growth.” In 2021 the way she lived her life was recognized by Stow, OH with the Leona Farris Lodge dedication of the renaming of the Silver Springs Lodge in her honor.
She met Melvin Ernest Farris, M.D., at Ohio State while they were both attending college. They married on June 16, 1943. at the Cleveland Antioch Baptist Church. They were married for 58 years. They had four children, plus one foster child. Dr. Judith Kizzie, Betty Wilson, Melvin E. Farris, Jr. Laura Farris-Daugherty and foster son Gregory Walker.
Preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Elaine and Ida; husband, Dr. Melvin E Farris, Sr.; oldest daughter, Dr. Judith E. Kizzie.
Survivors include, children, Betty Wilson, Laura Farris-Daugherty and Melvin Farris Jr. (Laurie); son-in-law, Carlton (Gina) Kizzie Jr.; grandchildren, Beth Kizzie (fiancée Sonya Samuels), Carl Kizzie III, Albert Wilson Jr. (Jane), Melvin Farris III, Ian Farris (Alissa Petrosoniak), Dominick Farris, Deborah Giron, Steve Giron, Kevin Giron, Denise Daugherty Summer (John), Daniel Daugherty and great-grandchildren, Nala Wilson, Kiara Wilson, Sierra Shannee and James Sumner.
Laura Farris-Daugherty wants to thank the following doctors for their excellent care and respect: Dr. Shelby J. Cash, Dr. J. Sears, Dr. Kenneth Mooney, Dr. Susana M. Bowling. A very special thanks to her personal care team Jenny, Reva, Lois, Polly who loved and cared for Mom as if she were their own mother/grandmother. You all made her last years very special. A special thank you to her AKA family for always being there. Michelle Ledford and ALL the staff especially the chef at Copley Place independent living.
Friends may call on Friday, March 4, 2022, from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm at Sommerville Funeral Services, 1695 Diagonal Rd. Akron, Oh 44320. Friends may also call on Saturday, March 5, 2022, from 11:00 am until 12:00 noon at City of Joy Life Enrichment Center, 610 W. Exchange St. Akron, OH 44302. Ivy Beyond the Wall ceremony at 11:30 am. Funeral service will immediately follow. Mask required. Funeral service will be live streamed at sommervillefuneralservice.com<http://sommervillefuneralservice.com/> Private burial. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Leona Farris Scholarship Fund. Checks made payable to City of Stow – Leona Farris Scholarship Fund, 3760 Darrow Road, Stow, OH 44224.