On Monday morning October 14, 2019 at the age of 95, Ermin Lee (Hatcher)Frey, slipped away peacefully to her eternal rest. Although we will miss her dearly we know that: absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
Ermin Lee (Hatcher) Frey was born on February 26, 1924 in Dewitt, MO. She was the 3rd of 4 children born to Ellis and Cordelia Hatcher. In 1926, in a new model T-Ford, the family moved to Parsons, KS. This is where Ermin spent her early childhood. She graduated in 1942 from Parsons High school at the top of her class, but was made to march in the back of the line for the graduation procession. This made real to her the inferior status assigned to people of color, the humiliation of which provided her motivation to attend Wilberforce University where she graduated Cum Laude in 1946 with a major in Psychology. While at Wilberforce she pledged a lifetime commitment to Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
After matriculating from Wilberforce, Ermin’s 50 year career in education began in Parsons where she taught 5th/6th grade at Douglas elementary (where her early schooling began). During this time she met and married Bennie Frey, Sr. However, initially it was kept secret as Kansas did not allow female teachers to marry.
This was followed by her assignment at Topeka’s Monroe Elementary School, noted as the principal Black school in the Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education lawsuit initiated in 1952. Ermin’s letter from the Topeka Board regarding her status as a teacher in view of the pending case resides at the National Afro-American Museum in Wilberforce, Ohio. During this time their only child, Bennie Jr. was born.
In 1959 Bennie Sr. was transferred to Olmstead AFB and the family moved to Harrisburg, PA. Here Ermin taught at Glenwood Elementary, the only black school in Susquehanna Twp. Additionally, Ermin completed her Master’s in Education with a specialization in reading from Shippensburg State University, PA. She pursued graduate studies at multiple universities including the University of West Indies in Jamaica and a one year program in Psychiatric Aide Study under the auspices of the Menninger Foundation, Topeka, KS.
In 1966, the family moved to Wilberforce, Ohio following Bennie Sr’s transfer to Wright Patterson AFB. For 10 years Ermin held the positon of Chairman of Education Division at Wilberforce University. During this time she was honored to receive the Nicolas Salgo Outstanding Teacher Award. She returned to Elementary Education as principal of Tecumseh Elementary in Xenia, Ohio, becoming the first of two African American principals in the district. Ermin retired from the Xenia School District in 1985 but continued to teach early childhood education at Central State University for the next 13 years.
Ermin was a life time member of Links incorporated, Wilberforce Chapter. She was an active member of Holy Trinity AME where she enjoyed participating in worship and attending Sunday school. Ermin was actively involved in duplicate bridge and for several years she was the National Chairperson of the New Player Membership committee. She wrote a handbook for new players that was widely distributed. She also served as president of the Wilberforce Duplicate Bridge Club. Ermin traveled near and far for bridge tournaments and accumulated a wall of trophies, many of which were for first place.
Ermin loved her family. Of all the accolades she received over her lifetime, her greatest joy was that of being called “Mimi” by her three grandsons, Brent Jordan, Brian Justin and Bradley Joseph. She was so proud of them and always welcomed the opportunity to share their accomplishments with others.
After a 60 year marriage, Bennie Sr. preceded her in death in 2008. Ermin leaves to cherish her memory, her devoted son and daughter-in-law, Bennie Jr. and Gayle; grandsons: Brent and his wife Cheri; Brian and his wife Ashley and Bradley; a great granddaughter Taylor; loving niece and nephew Peggy and Clarence Wesley (Wichita, KS), Stanley and Beverly Hatcher(Beaumont, TX); God-daughter Kim and John Ogunkeye (Chicago, IL) and faithful friend Melissa Clawson(Denver, CO) of Cedarville University’s Adoptive Grandparent program as well as a host of lifelong friends and relatives from near and far. Service for Ermin L. Frey will be held on Monday October 21, 2019 at Holy Trinty A.M.E. Church 1230 Clifton Wilberforce Rd, Wilberforce, Ohio. Visitation will 10:30am until time of service which will be at 12 noon with Pastor Gayle Simmons officiating and Rev. Gary Chapman Eulogist. Interment will follow at Valley View Garden, Xenia, Ohio.
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