Horvena Alexander died surrounded by her children on December 23, 2023, in her home at the Collington-Kendal Life Plan Community in Mitchellville, Maryland. She was 101 years old.
Horvena Elizabeth Sudduth Alexander was born in Covington, Kentucky on June 27th, 1922, to Melvena Jones Sudduth, a housewife and Horace Sudduth, a Cincinnati African American entrepreneur who went on to build a real estate business, a savings and loan and the Manse Hotel in segregated Cincinnati. She attended historic Frederick Douglass elementary school and graduated from the college-prep Walnut Hills High School where she was honored as a Latin scholar.
In 1944, she graduated from the HBCU (historic black college, university) Fisk University in Nashville, Tn with a BS in social work. At Fisk, she became a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She returned to Cincinnati with the hope of attending Columbia University to pursue a graduate degree in social work. Instead, she was persuaded by her father to stay in Cincinnati and work in his businesses.
In 1947, she married Glenn Alexander who joined his father-in law in business. Horvena and Glenn worked together to sustain her father’s businesses and start their own real estate firm. They raised four children and resided in the Walnut Hills neighborhood and later in the North Avondale community of Cincinnati.
Horvena and Glenn were members of St. Andrews Episcopal Church. In 1953, she became a founding member of the Cincinnati Jack and Jill chapter, an organization dedicated to strengthening children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving and civic duty. She held dearly her “couples club” that she and Glenn helped organize and nurture over the more than four decades. She was also a member of Girl Friends, Inc., a historic organization of African American women.
She lived the bulk of her life in Cincinnati Ohio where she thrived in the comfort of a stable and supportive African American community. Her talents and qualities saw her through profound social and economic changes and were the foundation of the partnership with her husband Glenn in business and life. Later in life she pursued her career passion– social work.
During the late 1960’s and in to the 70’s, she worked as a counselor in the Neighborhood Youth Corps (NYC). During her time there, she enjoyed guiding young people in finding employment, staying the course at school, and finding their self-worth. She often spoke of the mutual satisfaction she experienced with her young mentees and colleagues.
After 48 years of marriage, Glenn passed away in 1995. Horvena continued her life exploring her interests, spirituality, and engagement with long-time and new friends. In the 1990’s, she joined the Unity Church.
In 2007, she moved to Maryland and resided in the continuum of care community at Collington – Kendal -where she lived for nearly 17 years with only a brief pause during the COVID pandemic when she lived with her daughters. At Collington, she worked on the Black History Month committee among other activities.
Horvena had that rare talent of attracting new friends of all ages while fostering ties to old ones. She enjoyed deep and probing conversations with her neighbors in Cincinnati; formed a very meaningful emotional and intellectual friendship with a budding writer and young resident of her apartment complex in Cincinnati and maintained a wide social network of friends and associates. Cincinnati friends and some of their children remained in contact after her move to Maryland. Many were a comfort to her throughout the last years of her life especially during the pandemic.
She made new friends when she moved to Collington. She was especially inspired by the love and care of Collington staff and encouraged those who were pursuing healthcare and other careers as they worked at Collington. And she was always available to give advice and encouragement to those who came to her with concerns.
She was never shy about expressing her opinions and views on life and the world!
Horvena is survived by her children, Darryl (spouse, David Shelton), Nancy (spouse Ollie Cotton), Glenn and Andrew; three grandchildren, Lauren Alexander Looney, Paul Shelton and Glenn Marshall Alexander; niece, Pat Duncan Williams, nephew, Craig Duncan, their children and grandchildren, and her husband’s niece, Jacquelyn Griffin Fleming.
In lieu of flowers, the family ask that you donate to any of these organizations or others dedicated to equity and justice: The Equal Justice Initiative https://eji.org/; Episcopal Retirement Services in Cincinnati https://www.episcopalretirement.com/; or Bailey’s Café https://baileyscafe.org/