Civil rights activist dies at 78

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fletcher remembered for community work


To say the Rev. Dr. Henry C. Fletcher lived life to the fullest is an understatement, say those who knew him. And the community who knew him now mourns his death.

Dr. Fletcher passed away Saturday, at the age of 78. The Ironton native spent more than 50 years in the ministry, devoted many years to campaigning for civil rights and even had a run as a professional boxer.

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Wilma Fox, 82, of Ironton, was a neighbor of Fletcher, and knew him for most of his life.

“I knew him when he was just a young fellow,” Fox said.

“I remember when he was a young boxer, with the Golden Gloves,” Fox said. She remembers when he went to New York, fighting in Madison Square Garden. “He was very athletic, a health person. He took care of himself.”

Fox participated in a march led by Fletcher during the time of Martin Luther King.

“He led that here in Ironton,” Fox said. “We marched in sympathy with them.”

Fletcher, along with Fox, also appeared in a documentary made by Ohio University about the Civil Rights Movement.

“There were certain things here in Ironton people just didn’t pay attention to,” Fox said. She said after viewing the documentary, people told her they had no idea there was such discrimination going on in Ironton during that time.

“We couldn’t go to the counter at the 5- and 10-cent store and eat,” Fox said. “When we went across the river, we went to the train station, and the restrooms were white-only and black-only, and the drinking fountains were the same thing.”

Fletcher worked with the Community Action Organization as well.

“He was just a fine fellow,” Fox said. “Everyone who knew him just fell in love with him.”

Hugh Scott, 65, of Ironton, was well acquainted with Fletcher’s work in the ministry. As Scott’s pastor at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Fletcher and his father-in-law baptized Scott when he was about 11 years old.

“I know that he was a man of great moral value and a great family man,” Scott said.

He said Fletcher always tried to help others through the Gospel, as well as hands-on, visiting and helping people however he could.

Fletcher’s legacy with his work with the Civil Rights Movement left an impression with Scott.

“He was a great activist with the Civil Rights Movement in the sixties,” Scott said. “His qualities were bar none.

“He was a man on a mission to work for others, and now he is able to have a resting time for his hard work.