Stow-Munroe Falls declares Jan. 25 Leona Farris Day

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal
Laura Farris-Daugherty holds a plaque that honors her mother, Leona Farris. The Stow-Munroe Falls City School District gave one plaque to Farris, and its twin will hang at the entrance of Stow-Munroe Falls High School.

The Stow-Munroe Falls City School District declared Jan. 25, 2021 Leona W. Farris Day in honor of the matriarch of one of the first Black families to live in Stow.

A plaque displaying the proclamation will now hang at the entrance of the high school, and on Monday, Superintendent Tom Bratten and the board of education presented a duplicate plaque to Farris's daughter, Laura Farris-Daugherty.

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"I'm proud to accept this recognition for my mom," Farris-Daugherty said. "She is who I call on Facebook 'The Petite Wonder' because she's under 5 feet, but you would never know with her personality and her dynamics."

Leona Farris and her husband, physician Melvin Harris, moved to Stow in 1954, and their children were the first Black children to attend the Stow schools. 

"She always loved both formal education and informal education, which is why she made a point of introducing Stow to both herself and all of her children by being members and being involved in those communities," Farris-Daugherty said. 

Farris was involved with her husband’s work in the Summit County Medical Auxiliary, volunteered with the PTA, and in the 1960s, helped stop the local Girl Scout group’s use of minstrel shows for fundraising activities.

The Kent State University alum was involved in integrating the dormitories of Ohio State University, was involved in the NAACP and in 1969, became the first Black woman to be an assistant professor at the University of Akron.

The University of Akron also established a Leona W. Farris Scholarship in 1987 in her name, and she retired from there in 1988. 

Farris was also involved with the United Way, the Western Reserve Girl Scout Council, American Field Service and Alpha Kappa Alpha, in which she has been a member for 82 years.

"I'm pleased to say she's alive to be able to see these things happen," Farris-Daugherty said of her mother's recent accolades. "A lot of times these things happen when someone's no longer alive and only their families get to appreciate it."

The city of Stow also honored Farris, 103 and now of Copley, by renaming Silver Springs Lodge as Leona Farris Lodge

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.