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Dayton Valley Days’ founding member dies in Carson

Staff Reports

One of Dayton Valley Days founding members devoted her later life to the town, even when she was hospitalized, according to her friend Linda Clements.

Leona Monroe, 75, died Dec. 3, 2003, at the Mountain View Care Center in Carson City.

She moved to Dayton in 1988. Besides Dayton Valley Days, Monroe was one of the first Friends of the Dayton Library and started the Children’s Halloween Carnival there.

Monroe lived in Dayton for 15 years before a long illness forced her into the care center.

“She came out last year and worked the book sale from her wheelchair,” Clements said. “She crocheted blankets for the young mothers when she couldn’t come out anymore.”

Monroe was born Aug. 3, 1928 in Los Angeles. Her maternal grandmother had been born into slavery, but was soon freed. As a child, she and her 13-year-old sister walked across country to San Francisco, where they settled.

Monroe studied business at Los Angeles City College and later worked as a clerk-typist, keypunch operator, bookkeeper and accountant for organizations, including the U.S. government, IBM, Lockheed and the Kennedy Co.

At 22, she broke the color barrier in downtown Los Angeles department stores.

Talking her way into a job in the complaint (Customer Service) department at Eastern Columbia department store, she became the first black person hired as other than a janitor or elevator operator, according to Clements.

Monroe and her husband, Al, retired to Rose Peak Drive in Dayton. Monroe quickly became involved in the town when she met Trina Jacobsen at a meeting to organize a volunteer library.

Monroe organized bake and book sales to support the library and organized the Junior Friends of the Dayton Valley Library.

In 1999, she and her husband were made lifetime members of the Friends.

For many years, she organized all the cooking and barbecuing for Dayton Valley Days. Through her involvement with the Friends, she organized and directed the Halloween carnival.

Clements said Monroe was always a straight shooter when she talked about her death.

“There were no punches pulled, there was no coyness about it,” Clements said. “It’s never easy, but it is easier when you don’t have to dance around the issue.”

Monroe assigned Clements to find the least expensive cremation possible. When it became obvious she would last longer than the six months originally predicted, she had Clements go back and check again.

Monroe is survived by her husband, Albert of Dayton; son, Michael of Dayton; grandchildren Tasha, Aiyana and Mike of Pasadena; niece June Crane and her husband Rodney; cousins and many, many friends and colleagues.

A celebration of her life has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 10 in the Dayton Community Center. It will be a potluck, and everyone is invited. Reply to Linda Clements at 246-0505 or Catherine Ragan at 629-9625.