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 - Decotur, Dansby mmmmni as c By DAVE PETRINA ,...
Decotur, Dansby mmmmni as c By DAVE PETRINA , Herald & Review Staff Writer ' Decatur residents Monday eulogized a man who championed a drive against racial racial discrimination and served in the ' country's first all-black all-black all-black fighter squadron. 1 Ellsworth H. Dansby Jr., 74, was remembered for his accomplishments as a community leader, and member of the Decatur Board of Education and Decatur Human Relations Commission. Dansby had been in ill health several years because of a heart condition but had been out to dinner Saturday. "He was in high humor Saturday night when we went out with members of a club that has been meeting about 30 years," said John Cheeks, his brother-in-law. brother-in-law. brother-in-law. brother-in-law. brother-in-law. "He was talking about fishing and we played cards later." Dansby suffered a heart attack early Sunday morning at home. He had fought racial discrimination most of his life. His major battle was as a Decatur Board of Education member from 1968 to 1971 during the height of a communitywide controversy on cross-busing cross-busing cross-busing cross-busing for racial integration, a concept he supported. However, in a 1981 interview, he said there was compliance with the letter of the law in Decatur but not in the spirit of the law prohibiting discrimination. 5, 1919 4, St Mi Decatur Died: June ary's Hospital- Hospital- Education: Graduate of Decatur High School, attended Mifliktn University and Roosevelt College, College, Chicago. Military: Enlisted 1941 in the U.S. . Army Air Corps and became the unit's first black master sergeant in the 99th Fighter Squadron, the country's first all-black all-black all-black fighting unit. The squadron fought in nine major Ellsworth Dansby In 1941 .battles in bourn Atrk -cafond -cafond Sicity. Dansby came from a middle class background. "He was an unusual kind of person because because he didn't have to stick his neck out. He could have been a laid-back laid-back laid-back person but that wasn't good enough. He came down on the side of the underprivileged and have-nots," have-nots," have-nots," said Horace Livingston Jr., publisher of The Voice. Born: Oct. 5 -. -. i.m ...inn. m i i i i .. i , 1 " " lllllll LI ismpion of Hobbies: A licensed pilot, designed and restored vintage aircraft; former president of local Experimental Aircraft Association. Occupation: Technician at Dansby Dental Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, contract administrator at Marvel-Schebler-Tillotson Marvel-Schebler-Tillotson Marvel-Schebler-Tillotson Marvel-Schebler-Tillotson Marvel-Schebler-Tillotson Division of Borg-Wamer Borg-Wamer Borg-Wamer Corp. ; state director for . Project Equality of Illinois and Indiana. Religion: Deacon and elder of First Presbyterian Church, former state chairman chairman of synod of Illinois Commission on Religion and Race. Notable: He and his wife, the former Eunice Heideman, whom he married in 1949, participated in marriage counseling counseling 'classes and worked with the National Council of Churches in explaining interracial interracial marriages. "He was very prominent in the CCI study (Community Committee on Integration Integration appointed by the school board,)" said Livingston, who grew up with Dansby. "He was a very fine citizen and a fine contributor to the school board," said T. W. "Ted" Schroeder, president of the board during Dansby's term. "We had some rough times in those civ si note days, but it worked out in a more peaceable peaceable and satisfactory way than it has in many communities," he said of the busing busing issue. "I just visited with him a couple of weeks ago at a concert at Kirkland Fine Arts Center. I'm grieved that he has passed away." William F. Oliver, city council member, member, recalled supporting Dansby's campaigns campaigns for city council and school board. "He is a role model for this community community who will be sorely missed. It is a shame those of a younger age never got to know him. He was a unique individual who always bragged about his home town," said Oliver. Dansby had a lifelong interest in aviation. aviation. He launched himself from a hillside on a frame of bedsheets as a boy and then piloted an airplane for the first time in 1927 at age 12. He rebuilt airplanes and then joined World War II in the country's first all-black all-black all-black combat unit the 99th Fighter Squadron. Cheeks was at the same Tuskegee (Ala.) Air Base as the 99th Squadron and recalled how one air crew praised the -ii -ii it. t-v t-v t-v i ,r il k e ' SKiu or tne uansoy crews miaoum mnca. "Thev said whenever they flew a mis- mis- sion, they always found the 99th on the way back to stop for a tuneup because they were the only guys who knew how to do it," said Cheeks. Lake Land offers

Clipped from Herald and Review06 Jun 1989, Tue[Third Edition]Page 3

Herald and Review (Decatur, Illinois)06 Jun 1989, Tue[Third Edition]Page 3
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