Honoring Linda Pearson Belton

Florida

Southeast / Florida 106 Views

The loss of Linda Pearson Belton, (widow of Zack Belton) due to Coronavirus, on August 10, 2020, is sorrowfully felt by family, friends, and love ones. She was the mother of three devoted children, Rodney, Roger, and Robin Wynn, and four most adored grandchildren who were the strings of her heart. Throughout her life Linda was a treasured gift to mankind. A poet and writer, Linda, retired as supervisor from Bell South, served as concierge at the Adams Mark and was a noted caterer and events planner. Linda lived a good and faithful life. All that she wanted to do she did…she made time to live and serve while she was alive.

  • Until death claimed her, Linda served as president of the Sydney Baines Parker chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians.
  • Linda was an active member of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church
  • Linda was a promotor and season ticket holder for the Ritz Chamber Players.
  • Linda also chartered and organized the Boylan-Haven Alumnae Association, serving as president for more than ten years.

Linda wrote a few of her remembrances of the school that called Jacksonville home for black girls across the country from 1885-1959.

Linda Pearson Belton

1954-1959 Day and Boarding Student

Boylan-Haven School for Girls had the most lasting effect on my life other than anything except my family and my faith.

My Aunt, Lorraine Alston Phelts, was a graduate of Boylan-Haven School. So, when I returned from two years of living in Newport, Rhode Island, and attending an integrated elementary school, the decision was made by my family that I would become a Boylan-Haven girl like Aunt Lorraine.

I had heard a little about the school and what an impact it had made on my aunt’s life but like most children at that age I didn’t see how going to Boylan-Haven would be any different than any other school. Well, I suppose I was a little curious about a school without those troublesome “boys”.

My first days at Boylan-Haven were challenging and very interesting. I had to get accustomed to going across town to a school surrounded by a big wall, classes with only girls and going to chapel every day. (A whole hour on Wednesdays). The older girls were a little intimidating at first but after settling in, I found most of them to be kind and helpful. They became our “Play Mothers” and sometimes we had more than one. The two that were most memorable were Melva Clayton and Carolyn Burdine (Parker).

Our classes were small compared to public school and that allowed teachers to give us more individual time. Everyone had to take Bible, and cooking and sewing. Just like public school, we had field trips but unlike public school, Methodist Missionaries were actually some of our teachers. What patience they had to have in order to deal with our inquisitiveness, stubbornness and often pubescent mischievous behavior.

After getting over my first year in the Prep Class (5th & 8th grades), I couldn’t imagine being in school anywhere else. I was hooked and in the 8th grade I became a boarding student. Who can forget going to Ebenezer Methodist Church every Sunday unless you were “seriously ill” or going to “Chapel” every Sunday evening? I think we all knew the Methodist Hymnal backwards and forward. It was a great way to help with the religious training that began as toddlers by most of our families.

Boylan-Haven offered us exposure to so many aspects of life and the world as it was in the 1950s. The curriculum, if you took advantage of it, afforded us an opportunity to have a cosmopolitan and well-rounded education. “Negro History” was also an integral part of our daily education along with music and art. There were lessons learned at Boylan-Haven that have remained with me throughout my life.

Boylan-Haven provided an atmosphere in which we were encouraged to be self-reliant, proud (but not haughty) and compassionate Black women. We were constantly told to reach beyond the current racial circumstances of those times and to strive for a better life for ourselves and our families.

Beyond the serious educational foundation, there was a great opportunity to get to know some very remarkable teachers like Mrs. Edith Carter, Miss Naomi McBurney, Miss Mary Alice Guyton, and Miss Nola Smee and staff like Miss Williams (what a character). Lasting friendships that to this day still exist were formed at Boylan-Haven.

I will forever be grateful to my grandmother and my aunts for deciding that Boylan-Haven was the best place for me to spend part of my childhood. My only regrets are that later in life I didn’t remember more of the lessons taught there and secondly, that I was not able to receive my High School diploma from Boylan-Haven

In 1959 due to low enrollment and the school’s buildings being in a state of disrepair, Boylan-Haven was merged with Mather Academy in Camden, South Carolina to form Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy.   Linda transferred to Stanton High School where she was an honor graduate from the “Unforgettable Class of 1961.

Funeral arrangements entrusted to Alphonso West Mortuary, 4409 Soutel Drive

Jacksonville, FL 32208 (904) 766-9671, alphonsowestmortuary@gmail.com

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