- Faith & Family
Ray Brinson, president, Bethune-Cookman University and local chapter presidents provided the City of Daytona with its 44th Annual National Alumni Convention. It was a record-breaking group of alumni that came ready to enhance the dream of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder. On the agenda were plenary sessions, Miss Alumni rehearsals, Luau, corporate recognitions, President’s Luncheon, speakers including Lt. Col. Hiram Mann, an original Tuskegee Airman, a cook out and a black tie gala. The gala featured Edward “Creamy” Hayes and his band of Collegians. Promenading around the floor were Ray Brinson and wife; Dr. Larry Handfield and wife; Wayne Davis, local president; Audley Coakley, trustee; Charlie Davis and wife; William Clark and Dr. Cynthia Clark; and Rev. T. Eilene Martin and Minister Gregory Robinson.
Highlights of the convention, according to past National President John Williams, were centered around Wayne Davis, local president, who escorted Chita Davis in the Miss Alumnae Contest who was Miss Gold last yea; Audley Coakley, escorted Gina Sanders from Tampa, FL The Miami Chapter won the award for having the largest group (15); Williams escorted Robin Moncur, last year’s winner in passing the crown on; from Williams’ encouragement, five members paid their lifetime pledges: Dr. Larry Handfield; Donoven Wells, BCU band director; James Poitier, associate band director; Peadro Orey; and Glen Walker. The high point of the convention was the Black and White Gala in honor of Dr. Larry Handfield, trustee chairperson; and Dr. Edison Jackson, interim president of the university. Others honored included: Elestine Allen, Rev. Nathaniel Jackson, Robert “Bob” Edwards and Fannie Humes.
Other alumni in attendance included: Torian Cox, Johnnie Douglas, Lakeva Evans, Johnny McCrea, Esq., Christella Matthews, Willie Jackson, Cinnomon Rolle, Pamela Garrett, Carolene Nosgood, Beatrice Dennison, Shakingdra Johnson,John Williams, Wilhelmenia Blue, Eugene Elliot, Birdie Underwood, Atty. Robin Lovett and husband, Haquikah Peterson, Andra Diggs, Florence Zema, Jan Harrison, Lady Gladeez McCoy, Syrenthia Parker, Catherine Green, Sara Hallen, Coxy Brown, Vivian Cox, Gina Sanders, Herb Corbin, Dr. Willie Wright and family.
The legacy of Prescola Beneby continues to spread as she moves about the state of Florida spreading her evangelical work from the Church of God of Prophecy. She still grieves over the loss of her son, Laymon Beneby, who had reached the apex of his musical life while writing a gospel play for James Moss, president, Bahamian-American Federation, which was a big hit. Her friends surprised her recently on her 87th birthday party at her palatial home. They included her son-in-law, Obie II; daughter, Althea Duran; Winifred Beacham, Mabel Wilson, Mary Cunningham, Estella Cox, Dorothy Hanna, Evalina Beckham and Cordelia, daughter. Beacham and Mabel placed a huge cake on the table as everyone sang the song Bahamian style and reflected on the good ole days doing God’s work. Evangelist Beneby shed a few tears when the stories included her struggle with her handicap. She closed the celebration by thanking her friends for making it the best day in her life including getting married.
Frank Pinkney and the Men at the Tree of Knowledge, are still on cloud nine from the special luncheon provided for them from the African American Committee of Dade Heritage and Lemon City Cemetery for their committed service over the past 20 years. Leander “Trixie” Phillips came on the scene to brag about his athletic career as a member of Dorsey High’s football team, where William Lee, captain, Stanley Finley, and Phillips made all-state quarterback, guard and fullback, respectfully. Phillips then took over the debate and added the popularity of Dorsey High ’53-’54 school year when the team captured two city championships and finished second in district competition. Lee also received a trophy for outstanding player of that year. Phillips substantiated his data by pulling out his Miami Times and called out members such as Harold Scott, co-captain, Willis Bain, Jimmy Brown, Johnson Lamar, Charles Lassiter, Joseph Stevens, Jack Holt, Augustus Reed, Leo Albury, Alexander Bethune, Andrew Lee, Fred Davis, Matthew Gilbert, Sequire Cowart, Sam Love, John Sams and James Heastie. He concluded by reading Dorsey High had won seven-of-eight games in ’53.
Clara Wiggins Smith’s death has shocked communities in Miami Gardens, Opa-locka and Miami-Dade County. Her illness lasted for several years while her popularity grew among church members, classmates and neighbors because of her kindness. She first worshipped at Ebenezer UMC. Her Christian attitude also brought Rev. Dr. Jimmie Brown, one of her former pastors, to pay tribute to her, along with Karen Ford and Rev. John White II from Emmanuel Temple. Members included: Kenya Miller, Lelia Ford, David Smith, Syrenthia Parker, Pamela Hines as well as Melissa H. Smith, Sam Lowe and Felicia S. Jenkins from Mt. Herman AME.
David Smith reciprocated the love of his life as tributes were given by Betty Bullard and Carrie Sneed. She will also be missed by mother, Eunice Wiggins, Timothy and Rosa Smith, Jack and Dot Smith, Anthony P. Smith, Sonja Smith and Aiken Smith, Bertha M. Brooks, Julia Whyte, Willie Brooks, Jr. Alfred and Sarah Brooks, 16 great grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and friends.
By Dr. Richard Strachan