Dallas-Fort Worth Black Living Legends: Philanthropy

Comer Cottrell Jr., 1987

Comer Cottrell Jr. (1931 - 2014) founded the Pro-Line Corp. in 1970, and moved his business to Dallas in 1980. The Curly Kit, a home use Jheri curl product, made Pro-Line Corp. one of the most successful Black-owned companies in the United States. Cottrell was the first Black member elected to the Dallas Citizens Council, a group of business leaders who attempt to improve the business climate in the city. Cottrell was also a member of many civic and charity organizations, and sponsored countless fundraisers to support his community.

Grace Elizabeth Love, 1991

Grace Elizabeth Love (1915 - unknown) spent her life serving her community. Love earned her bachelor’s degree from Samuel Huston College and a Master of Education degree in Counseling from Southern Methodist University. Her service to her community is wide ranging. In 1986, she established the Alyce L. Bradley Cofield Endowment Memorial Scholarship Fund at Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, where she herself was a sorority member of the Alpha Mu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Love was also dedicated to providing Christmas gifts for needy families through the St. Paul United Methodist Church, and she contributed funds for the restoration of Bethlehem Cemetery in Hammond, TX. She has spent her life giving to others through her time, talents, and financial commitments, in order to help improve quality of life in this world.

Fannie C. Smith, 1992

Fannie C. Smith (1904 - 1998), a North Carolina native, earned her undergraduate degree from Livingston College in Salisbury, NC. She went on to become one of the first Black students admitted to the Southwest School of Social Work, where she earned a master’s degree. After working as a teacher for a short time in North Carolina, Smith moved to Dallas to pursue a career as a social worker for the State of Texas. She also worked as a medical social worker for Parkland Hospital for over 20 years. Smith’s generous spirit led her to continue to give of herself, and she was honored for her work with the American Cancer Society, the USO, and the YMCA. She also contributed to various scholarship funds, and participated as an active member of the NAACP and YWCA, and was a founding member of the Dallas Chapter of The Links, Inc.

Travis Lewis, 1993

Travis Lewis (1919 - 2013) was heavily active in civic affairs since her days attending Wiley College where she joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She became a realtor in DFW after college, joining various realtor organizations, including the Texas Association of Realtors and the Greater Dallas Board of Realtors. Lewis wanted to support the Black Dallas community, and offered support to the YWCA, Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Inc., United Negro College Fund, Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, Wiley College, the NAACP, and Black Dallas Remembered. Lewis is revered in the Dallas community as a philanthropist. The Ivy & Pearl Foundation of Dallas established the Travis T. Lewis Scholarship to help young women from Dallas schools afford the education they deserve.

Mabel Meshach White, 1994

Mabel Meshach White (1914 - 2007) was a businesswoman, passionate member of the church, and helped transform Black Dallas neighborhoods and encourage citizen activism. White began her career owning and operating businesses such as a barber and beauty shop and a grocery store. In 1956, White and her husband William established the William White Real Estate Company, helping Black community members become homeowners. White was always known for helping those less fortunate than herself, and established the first mobile medical unit to visit community centers throughout South Dallas, providing free health screenings for community members. White served as the President of Missionary Society for the Good Street Baptist Church, Vice President of the Good Street Federal Credit Union, and on the board of Good Haven Apartment Complex. White was a member of many civic and business organizations, including the National Council of Negro Women, the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, Dallas Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. White became the first Black Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society, and in 1997 was honored by Bank of America as a Legend in Business. White’s commitments and memberships to business and civic organizations are as numerous as the awards and recognitions she received throughout her life.

Althea Jones Hilliard, 1995

Althea Jones Hilliard (1914 - 2012) dedicated her life to helping her community through her philanthropic efforts and community engagement. After moving to Dallas in 1931, Hilliard began her career as a dental assistant. To connect with her faith and the community, she joined St. John Missionary Baptist Church, where she was an active member for over 40 years. During that time, Hilliard served as pianist and choir member, as well as serving as the Church School Financial Secretary. Hilliard supported the Bethlehem Foundation, and encouraged organizations to support it as well. She wanted to support the St. John Church students, and created the Branch-Roland Scholarship Fund in the 1980s, and awarded the scholarship for 23 years to support students going to college. Additionally, Hilliard volunteered around Dallas for organizations focused on youth groups and senior citizens, and was active in various Dental Associations during her career.

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