Vermel M. Whalen
By Kathy Wray Coleman , Editor of Cleveland Urban News.Com and The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com) and (www.clevelandurbannews.com)
CLEVELAND, Ohio- Republican Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder (R-69) and Democrats Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and former Cleveland mayor Jane Campbell were among the dignitaries that attended the funeral on Saturday of retired state Rep. Vermel M. Whalen, who served in the Ohio House of Representatives for 12 years and was a respected and influential politician in Cleveland Ward 1 on the city's majority Black east side.
Her funeral was at Williams Temple Church of God and Christ in Cleveland, 6812 Woodland Ave. and the Rev. George L. Stewart did the eulogy.
Batchelder described Whalen as a strong and dedicated state legislator and Fudge and Jackson highlighted her efforts in bringing economic resources to the Lee-Harvard community in Ward 1, to Cleveland, and elsewhere in greater Cleveland and Ohio.
Campbell, who lost a bid for a second term as mayor of the largely Black major metropolitan city against Jackson in 2005 following a contentious election and now works in Washington, D.C., told Cleveland Urban News.Com at the cemetery services that Whalen, who succumbed to cancer at her Lee-Harvard home on March 13 at 84 years old, was a friend, was loyal, and was wise and committed to her constituents.
"She was my friend when I was winning and when I was losing," said Campbell, who added that she will not run against Jackson this year for mayor. "She was loyal, and respected, and she rarely spoke but when she did people listened."
Other elected officials and community advocates that were among the 26 speakers include state Rep. John Barnes Jr. (D-12), who officiated, Cleveland Councilmen Terrell Pruitt and Jeff Johnson, former Ward 1 Councilmen John Barnes Sr. and Joe Jones, and Elaine Gohlstin, executive director of the Harvard Community Services Center in Cleveland. Also there were state Rep. Bill Patmon (D-10), state Sens. Shirley Smith (D-21) and Nina Turner (D-25),Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Lance Mason, Cleveland Municipal Court Judges Angela Stokes and Emannuella Groves, Lady D Drill Team Leader Dionne Buchanan, Ward 1 Precinct Committeewoman Jean Pinkney and Joan Washington, who was among a large group of longtime Ward 1 residents.
Jones, Councilman Johnson and Judge Mason all said that Whalen was a mother figure to them and Gohlstin said that Whalen loved Ward 1.
Former Cuyahoga County judge Bridget McCafferty paid her respects too but did not speak.
A former Cleveland Clinic nurse, labor and consumer advocate, youth supporter and community adviser who belonged to various community organizations including the Cleveland Chapter NAACP and The Black Women's Political Action Committee, Whalen sponsored bills as a legislator to help consumers and helped Cleveland Municipal Housing Court deputy bailiffs organize the only deputy bailiff's union in Northeast, Oh.
She served in the Ohio State Legislature from 1986-1998 and represented parts of Cleveland , Maple Hts and Garfield Hts in what is now state legislative district 12, which Barnes Jr. now represents. She was active in the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, and The United Black Fund of Cleveland, among other community organizations.
Survivors include her daughter Yolanda Bayless of Cleveland, a great niece Juanita Brent, and a host of other relatives, associates, community affiliates and friends.
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