Florence Slater Johnson
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Pleasant Valley - Mrs. Florence Slater Johnson died peacefully in her Pleasant Valley home on May 18, 2014. She was the first daughter of Richard Peter Slater and Essie Edwards Slater, born September 17, 1923, in Milledgeville, GA. She married Scott Johnson of Albany, GA in 1946; they had one daughter. She moved to Poughkeepsie in 1963.
Florence attended Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama and often reminisced about seeing and listening to Dr. George Washington Carver. She received a B.A. from Albany (GA) State College and completed graduate studies at Columbia University and Syracuse University.
Mrs. Johnson worked briefly with the U.S. Ordinance Department in Cleveland, OH before returning to Milledgeville to assist her father in Slater's Funeral Home; founded by her grandfather, Alonzo Slater, it was one of the first black owned businesses in the state of Georgia. She enrolled in an apprenticeship program and received her license as a Funeral Director. For several years, she worked with her father and brother and after her father's death, with her mother until the business was sold.
Slater's Funeral Home remains an historic landmark and on-going business.
She began her teaching career in Sparta, GA. It was When she moved to New York City and began working as a counselor for abandoned and neglected children at the Children's Center that Mrs. Johnson found her vocational calling - to "reach those who appeared to be unreachable and help them become self-supporting or partially self supporting members of society." For 25 years she worked at Wassaic Developmental Center where she distinguished herself by developing community education programs that enabled clients to find unprecedented acceptance in the community at large. At a time when funding for the developmentally disabled was scarce, she initiated fund raising activities to provide additional services for her students. Mrs. Johnson was named Teacher of the Year in 1972 by the New York State Association of Retarded Children and received the Dr. Arthur W. Pense Memorial Scholarship Award. Upon her retirement, she received a New York State Senate "certificate for outstanding community service."
A love of people and commitment to help the less fortunate, kept Florence involved in her community throughout her life. Her activities at Smith Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church included the Senior Choir, the Lay Council, the Stewardess Board, President of the Interior Committee and Treasurer of the Deaconess Board led to her being named "Member of the Year" in 1982. Mrs. Johnson put these convictions into action at the Ulster Migrant Action Committee where she initiated a Basic Education and Homemaking Program for migrant workers and their children. Among the other organizations that have recognized her contributions with special commendations are the Northern Dutchess N.A.A.C.P. and the Iota Pi Zeta Chapter of ZOB, Inc.
Florence was proud to be a life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a public service organization, and was active in the Mid-Hudson Valley Alumnae Chapter, where she served on many committees (often in leadership roles). Mrs. Johnson is remembered for her generosity, often providing personally the means for young women to participate in the annual Cotillion and fulfill other personal dreams. Among the Deltas she found lifelong friends.
Nothing was more important to Mrs. Johnson than her family. She is survived by her daughter, Petronia Paley, an award-winning actress and director; her sister, Mamie Rubye Slater Harmon of Evanston, IL; a sisters-in-law Bertha H. Slater of Milledgeville, GA and Mattie Kelsey, a devoted friend of Pleasant Valley.
Mrs. Johnson is mourned by devoted nieces and nephews, Andrea Hammell, Richard Hammell (Paulette), Angela Hammell Walker (Roland), Major Hammell, Jr. (Carol), Herberta Yvonne Thornton (Oscar), Michael Jones, Margaret S. Inge, G.P. Inge IV, Andrea Inge, Jennifer Slater, Alonzo Slater, James Buchanan, their children and grandchildren who will never forget the many kindnesses of their Aunt Florence, who made everyone feel special. She is predeceased by six of her seven siblings, Richard P. Slater, Harriette Slater Jones, Margaret Slater Inge, Alonzo Slater, Petronia Slater Tucker and Frank Slater.
Her passing leaves a hole in the hearts of her extended family and friends that can never be filled. Mrs. Johnson was a loving and devoted daughter, sister, mother, teacher, neighbor and friend who will be missed by all those whose lives she touched.
Mrs. Johnson will lay in repose 10-11 a.m. Wednesday, May 28, at Beulah Baptist Church, 92 Catharine Street, Poughkeepsie. Services 11 a.m. at the church. Entombment at Community Mausoleum Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, Poughkeepsie. Rev. Dr. H. Dwight Bolton officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the scholarship fund of Mid-Hudson Valley Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PO Box 969, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601.
Professional Services entrusted to Rhodes Funeral Homes 43 Fairview Avenue Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. "Committed To Being The Very Best". Call us anytime at 452-2894 or 452-6143
Rhodes Funeral Home
43 Fairview Avenue Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Published in the Poughkeepsie Journal from May 24 to May 26, 2014