Virginia Haywood-Smith
1927 - 2020
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(News story) Virginia Haywood-Smith, an educator and, in the community, an advocate for equity of instruction and rigorous curricula who also was a leader in forging Toledo's sister-city tie in Tanzania, died Monday in Heartland at ProMedica, Sylvania. She was 92.

She'd been in declining health, her family said.

She retired in 1991 as a speech and hearing therapist in the Toledo schools.

Her death was noted on the Tanga, Tanzania, page of the Toledo Sister Cities International website, as was her role as founder of the Toledo-Tanga committee. In 2001 the city became Toledo's seventh sister city and its first in Africa.

"Even though we mourn her loss, we celebrate a life well lived; her resilience, strength and leadership that put us on this unique journey..." the committee said in a statement.

Her daughter, Leslie, said: "She loved that relationship. She was a Pan-Africanist."

Mrs. Haywood-Smith, a graduate of historically black Spelman College in Atlanta, became active in the black power movement of the 1960s. She was a member of Braden United Methodist Church and was inspired by the Rev. Albert Reed, the late pastor. During Pastor Reed's 20-year tenure, Braden was known as the spot where civil rights activity in Toledo often began or ended up.

She traveled the nation with her postage-stamp collection celebrating life and achievements of African-Americans and was a founding member of the Toledo Black History Club.

She was on the national board of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. She also served on the board of the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio.

"She tried to spread black history, so people would understand black history," said her son, Art Haywood, who is a state senator in Pennsylvania.

Her daughter said: "She was results oriented and purposeful. She wasn't frivolous."

Yet in her pursuits, "she was enjoying herself," her daughter said. "Very much so."

Mrs. Haywood-Smith had been a leader of Toledoans for United for Social Action. She was a former president of the Toledo Alliance of Black School Educators. In 1997 she ran as an independent candidate for Toledo Board of Education.

"She was instrumental in doing things for the community," said Sandra Page, a friend since 1959, when they taught second grade in adjoining rooms at Gunckel School. "It was her interest in the wider community. What one might remember about her is if she started with a job, she stayed with it until it was done."

As a school board candidate Mrs. Haywood-Smith cited the need for "meaningful parental involvement," she said then. She proposed a new position, a director of parent activities, to restore trust between parents and teachers, and the adoption of a phonics-based curriculum. She decried the predominance of inexperienced teachers in central Toledo schools.

She was not elected, still she encouraged her son as he sought public office in the Philadelphia area.

Virginia Carol Moreland was born Dec. 30, 1927, in Columbus to Anna and Mort Moreland and grew up in Springfield, Ohio, where she went to high school. Her family had moved to Ohio from Georgia about four years before her birth.

She was a 1950 graduate of Spelman College. In Toledo, teaching in a building led by Emory Leverette, the legendary Gunckel School principal, she "wanted to be able to measure up, for Mr. Leverette," her son said. "She believed in the children, that they could excel, and never thought poverty was a reason or race was a reason that children could not excel."

She received a master's degree from Bowling Green State University. Afterward she worked with students throughout the Toledo district as a speech and hearing therapist.

Mrs. Haywood-Smith, with her daughter and her granddaughter Ellen operated a company offering tutoring to low-income students.

Her marriage to Arthur Haywood ended in divorce. She later married Leon Smith. He preceded her in death.

Surviving are her daughter, Leslie Henriquez; son, Arthur Haywood III, and four grandchildren.

Funeral services were Saturday. Arrangements are by House of Day Funeral Service.

The family suggests tributes to the Toledo-Tanga Sister City Committee via

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Nov. 22, 2020.
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Memories & Condolences
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5 entries
November 24, 2020
I am so very proud of the remarkable life and legacy of my dear friend and colleague. May our Lord and Savior bless and comfort her family and friends during this difficult time of loss.
Modestyne Coleman Norment
November 24, 2020
Mrs. V H. Smith was an awesome yet gracious soul, extremely dignified! She was loved and will be missed.

Holy Quran 2:154
154 And speak not of those who are slain in Allh’s way as dead. Nay, (they are) alive, but you perceive not.
Bro. Edwin (Sky)
November 23, 2020
Mrs. Haywood was my beloved speech teacher at Ella P. Rest in Peace, dear teacher - I remain grateful. TM
Tracey Mabrey
November 22, 2020
I was a student of Mrs. Haywood in the second grade at Gunckel. I enjoyed her as a person not just a teacher. She pushed you to do your best. My prayers go out to the entire family. Rest in Heaven!

Catherine (Perry) Battle
Catherine (Perry) Battle
November 22, 2020
She was a strong, wonderful person. I only knew her for a few months when I student taught under her supervision in the early 1970's. She taught me many things, about teaching and about life. She never separated the two. Life and teaching were woven together for her. My sympathy to her loving family.
Carol Kabakoff, Oxford, OH
Carol Kabakoff
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