October 23, 2003




Mary Wright

Mary Wright died in Hospice of Dayton, Oct. 9. She was 95.

Born in a log home in Appalachia, near Bainbridge, Ohio, to Lote and Della Combs, June 30, 1908, she was educated in the Barrets Mill one room school.

In 1928 she married Paul Wright and moved to Dayton where she and Paul survived the Great Depression and raised two sons, teaching them hunting, fishing, gathering greens, wild fruit, berries and nuts, but above all love of and respect for nature.

Even in her 90’s she loved to hike the natural trails around Dayton where she could remind herself of the names of all the wildflowers and the songs of birds she remembered from childhood.

Glen Helen was one of her favorite places. Cedar Bog was another.

Her mind was a treasure trove of Ohio folklore. All her experiences were told in story form. Even in the hospital and in hospice she continued to tell stories and bits of wisdom she wanted to share with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was the most caring person many remember. She was always the giving neighbor, the “grandma” to any child, and the “Aunt Mary” to many, many people.

She was a most productive gardener. Her tomatoes and cabbages helped feed a whole neighborhood already known for Appalachian sharing. Her flowers were beautiful. “Diggin’ in the dirt” was her real occupation, but cooking was her art. Storytelling, however, was a gift. Marianne Whelchel, who teaches women’s oral history at Antioch once told Mary’s son, Harold, “Your mother is the most natural storyteller I have ever heard.”

Mary Wright is survived by her two sons and their wives, Harold and Jonatha Wright, of Yellow Springs, and Earl and Nancy Wright; four grandchildren, Rose Wright and Larina Caldwell, formerly of Yellow Springs, Tracy Price and Tyler Wright; and five great-grandchildren; three step-grandchildren and six step great-grandchildren; a sister and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was buried beside her husband of 65 years on Oct. 11, at Memorial Park Cemetery near her Northridge home.


George R. Reed

George Raymond Reed died recently at his home in Hyattsville, Md. He was 91.

Reed was the first blind African-American to be placed in the District of Columbia Randolph-Sheppard Program, which provided jobs for blind people managing concession stands in government buildings. Reed was a vendor from 1941 until 1981, managing stands at the old Freedman’s Hospital Annex, the National Archives, the Small Business Administration, and at the gift shop at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the nation’s capital.

Reed was a source of inspiration to his grandson, comedian Dave Chappelle, and inspired the creation of the fictional character Clayton Bixby, one of the best known sketches in the “Chappelle Show.” Blind from birth, Reed was sent to the Maryland School for the Blind, colored section, in 1917.

At eighteen, Reed became the first blind person to be “mainstreamed” in the public schools of the District of Columbia. He was graduated first in his class in 1933. In 1937, he was graduated summa cum laude from Howard University. Known nationally for his advocacy of fair treatment and job opportunities for the blind, Reed was an early member of the National Federation of the Blind.

As vice-president and later president of the D.C. Stand Operator’s Assocation, he took the lead in successfully suing the managers of the D.C. vending program for failure to administer the program in the best interest of the blind vendors. As a result of the case, a new managing corporation was named, with input from the vendors.

A lifelong resident of the greater Washington, D.C. area, Reed served under Marion Barry as a member of the Mayor’s Commission for the Handicapped.

Reed had been visiting the Xenia-Yellow Springs area since the early 1970s and recently came to the area to spend time with his great-grandchildren. He delighted in a fine meal, and had high praise for the baked breakfast treats at Morgan House, the cuisine at the home of Alyce Earl Jenkins, and Thanksgiving dinner with Joan and the late Bill Chappelle.

George Reed is survived by his wife of 46 years, Marian Kay Reed, his daughter, Dr. Yvonne Chappelle Seon, and a large extended family which includes grandchildren Felicia Jones, William S. Chappelle and Dave Chappelle, all of Yellow Springs, and eight great-grandchildren.


Glen Dale Gilreath

Glen Dale Gilreath of Clifton passed away Tuesday, Oct. 14, at his residence. He was 60.

He was born Oct. 12, 1943, in Jellico, Tenn., to Rube and Ocie (Cupp) Gilreath.

He retired from Navistar, was a member of Local 402 and attended Victory Temple.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one sister and two brothers.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Jeannetta; five daughters, Kathryn G. Prether, Clifton, Janie E. Castle and her husband Jason, Cedarville, Teresa Gilreath, Sterling Heights, Mich., Julie Current and her husband Jerry, Xenia, Joann Current and her husband Jason, Clifton; sisters Lila Mae Yost and husband John, Medway, Fern McNier and husband Richard, Florida; brother R.F. Gilreath and wife Joyce, Washington; grandchildren Nathan, Jacob, Jordan, Sarah, Joseph, Benjamin and Jonathan; and many nieces and nephews and other relatives.

Glen is also survived by many special friends, including his brother-in-law Jim Upton, Lon and Doreen Jenkins, Tom and Sharon Robinson and John Funk.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, Oct. 18, at Victory Temple, Fairborn. The family is being served by Burcham Funeral Home, Fairborn.


Bill J. White

Bill J. White of Xenia passed away Sunday afternoon, Oct. 12, at Liberty Nursing Center. He was 39.

Bill was born Jan. 11, 1964, in Dayton, the son of Jessie P. and Opal Marie Abbott White.

He is survived by his wife, Mary (Lewis) White, Xenia; his father, Jessie P. White, Dayton; his mother, Opal Marie Abbott White, Scienceville, Ky.; sisters and brother, Hazel Taylor, Scienceville, Ky.; Edith Taylor, Dayton, Theresa Carr, Dayton, Barbara Jackson, Somerset, Ky., and Jesse White, Dayton; numerous nieces and nephews and his foster father, David Lee, Yellow Springs.

Memorial services will be held at Toward Independence, 81 East Main Street, Xenia, on Wednesday, Oct. 29. Burial will be held at the convenience of the family. Neeld Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.